All About Self-Esteem (and how to have more of it!): Part 1

Imagine this: your friend compliments you about your new outfit. You felt so good, and flattered! However, you found that feeling starting to disappear when you realized you were unsure how to respond.

A few replies swirl around in your head….

Did you know, the type of response you give to your friend is related to your self-esteem? Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself – your qualities and characteristics.

A person’s self-esteem is described as “high” or “low” and can be a range in between. There is no “right or wrong” amount of self-esteem. However, higher levels tend to improve mental health, and lower levels can lead to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Using the above example, someone with high self-esteem would likely say “thank you so much” after receiving a compliment from their friend. People with high self-esteem often feel good about themselves. They have a positive outlook, feel happy, understand their strengths, and don’t rely on the approval of others to feel good.

However, someone with low self-esteem may shrug off the compliment and focus on what they think are the negatives instead of the positives. They might answer with something like, “oh, I hate how these jeans look on me!” People with low self-esteem may not have confidence. They may focus on negative qualities about themselves, feel they are not good enough, and often rely on the approval of others as a way to feel good about themselves.

Self-esteem is always with us. It’s that little voice in the back of our head, sometimes giving us “good thoughts” about ourselves and sometimes “bad thoughts” about ourselves. This is why self-esteem is an important part of our overall health and well-being.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Are you experiencing any of these? Do you…..

• Have an inner voice of self-talk that is negative?
• Find it difficult to accept or respond to compliments from other people?
• Find it difficult to accept or respond to constructive criticism or feedback?
• Have unhealthy coping methods such as overeating, drinking, or smoking?
• Avoid social gatherings or situations?
• Avoid challenges or difficult situations?
• Focus on what is unwanted more than what is wanted?
• Hesitate to try new things?
• Have a low level of confidence
• Find you are super sensitive?
• Focus intensely on personal problems?

Tips to Increase Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem influences so many things, such as how we act, who we spend time with, whether we will try new things, and how hard we may try at work or in school.

Try these tips to boost your self-esteem and help you feel better about yourself:

Focus on Effort and Accomplishment: Make a list of all the things you are good at. Give yourself credit for your strengths and talents.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: It’s easy to do. However, it’s a fast way to lower your self-esteem. Be proud of what makes you the unique person you are.

Do What You Love: Are you most happy reading a book, going to the gym, or shopping? Make time for these activities.

Detox from Social Media or Internet: Are you comparing yourself to online perfection? Take a break from those unrealistic and often fake images of people. Be mindful of the type of content you are looking at and if it impacts how you feel about yourself.

Hang Out with Positive People: Are your friends putting you down? Do you feel bad about yourself when you are with them? They are not likely your friends, and it could be time to get some new ones. Look for people who appreciate you and boost you when you need it.

Take Care of Your Body: Get active, exercise, eat well, and get lots of sleep!

Remember, being positive about yourself isn’t about bragging; it’s about liking “you” even though you know you’re not perfect!

Written by Sophie, a post-graduate student from University of Guelph-Humber.

With references from Kumar’s “10 tips of self-esteem to boost yourself easily” and Olivine’s “What is self esteem? A personal perception of self-concept, which can vary from positive to negative”.

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