Self-esteem, also known as self-worth or self-respect, is the opinion people have of themselves. In psychology, your self-esteem is used to describe your sense of self-worth or personal value. Low self-esteem and pessimism can make it difficult to accept responsibility and constructive criticism, which can hinder you from opportunities and also prevent you from taking on new challenges; consequently, blocking you from having fulfilling experiences in life. It can also ruin important relationships.

Low self-esteem, which affects our emotions, our thoughts, and behavior, as well as displays how we perceive and connect to ourselves and others, can occur for many reasons, including disapproval from people you value, putting your self-worth in circumstances that are out of your control, which when they don’t go the way you want causes you to feel like a failure, and some mental disorders, such as borderline personality disorder and depression.

When it comes to poor self-esteem, here are 41 useful ways you can do to help overcome it.

Assessing circumstances

1. Acknowledge your needs

We all have faults; however, if you don’t recognize and acknowledge where you need change, it can keep you stuck in a rut of poor self-esteem, which will only get worse the more you try to run from it. Instead, choose to become aware of and acknowledge where you need change and then put forth the effort to improve it. You can even enlist a good friend or relative for support.

You should also become aware when you are too critical of yourself, and then remind yourself that these are not facts, which will help you avoid negative emotions that can lead to negative self-talk.

2. Recognize your thoughts

Many people mistake these thoughts, behaviors, and feelings with personality characteristics. However, negative thoughts are not the same as actual characteristics. These types of thoughts, feelings, physical signs, and behaviors are like “symptoms” of low self-esteem.

Recognizing the symptoms will help you know what thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to target for improvement in self-esteem.

3. Listen your inner monologue

When many of the following thoughts occur, it’s like you’re hearing a voice inside your head. These thoughts are often automatic, almost like a reflex.

  • I’m too weak/not skilled enough/not smart enough.
  • I hope they don’t think I’m a jerk.
  • I’m too fat/thin/old/young/etc.
  • Everything is my fault.

4. Monitor your behavior

If you find that one or more of these behavioral statements apply to you, your self-esteem may be having a greater impact on the way that you live than you realize.

  • I don’t go out/I don’t like people to see me, or me them.
  • I have trouble making decisions.
  • I don’t feel comfortable expressing my opinions or speaking up for myself.
  • I don’t think I’m capable of handling a new job, even if it is a promotion.
  • I get upset very easily.
  • I argue with the people in my life a lot.

5. Identify negative thoughts

Whether you realize it or not, your own thoughts in your head are trapping you inside the cycle of low self-esteem. To feel better, it’s productive to identify when these types of thoughts are happening, and find ways to overcome them. There are some typical negative self-statements you can become familiar with, so if you come across some of them, you can target them for elimination.

6. Make commitment

With all this negative input, it’s no wonder self-esteem suffers. If you recognize your own unproductive thought patterns, you can combat them. It takes time and patience, because changing old habits takes a lot of work. Taking it in small steps is very helpful.

  • It’s easier to do little bits of progress, and it’s easier to get in the habit of treating yourself well by thinking positively.

7. Organize tasks

People with low self-esteem often over-commit and then feel bitter when they struggle to cope. Try to take on only one task at a time and be realistic about your workload. From a work project to coffee dates, even small things can build up if you take on too much, so carefully manage your diary and don’t be afraid to say no if you have too much on.

Get Organized

8. Make adjustment

Now it’s time to counter your negative opinions and experiences with positive ones, which will help you realize that the negative statements are opinions that keep you down, and that you should stop believing in these negative opinions you have formed of yourself.

9. Make a positive action plan

You can put what you know into action with “What I Will Do Now.” For this column, be generous with your ideas on what you are going to do from now on.

For example, “I will do everything I can to make sure I succeed. I will go back to school for my masters degree. I will research where I can write and get my articles published, and I will not give up until I get paid work. I will seek out a writing job. I will enter contests. I will not give up until I win one.”

10. Look for improvement

It is important to address ways that you would like to improve without overly focusing on ideas of strength or weakness. Believing we are weak or deficient in some way is another self-esteem trap. It’s unfortunate that this self-defeating idea is supported throughout our society.

Stop thinking of yourself in terms of weaknesses and instead think about areas you would like to improve, and only because changing them will make you happy.

Making goals for change is not about fixing something that’s broken. It’s about doing things that will help you work more efficiently in your life, and help you have healthy relationships, which in turn helps your self-esteem and happiness.

Changing outlook of life

11. Live in moment

When you are focused on the moment, you can choose your actions consciously and wisely, unaffected by the hurts of your past and unconcerned by worries or hopes about the future.  

12. Look after your health

A healthy diet and daily exercise regime will not only make you feel physically more able, but also leads to the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormones, which will in turn help you learn to love yourself.

13. Accept yourself

When we approach our lives non-judgmentally, we simply accept ourselves, our experiences, our failures and successes and other people just as they are, neither good nor bad, without pride or shame.

14. Stay well-groomed

It might sound strange, but brushing your teeth, taking a shower, styling your hair, wearing clothing that is comfortable, giving yourself a manicure, and taking care of your body in general boosts your self-esteem.

If you physically feel good and make efforts to maintain your appearance, knowing you smell great in your favorite perfume or cologne, or that your hair is soft and touchable, or your eyes look extra green because you’re wearing your favorite green shirt can give you a boost for the day.

Stay Well Groomed

15. Know that nobody’s perfect

Always strive to be the best version of yourself, but it’s also important to accept that perfection is an unrealistic goal.

Adopt healthy hobbies

16. Write in journal

Now that you know some reasons why loss of self-esteem occur and the basic negative thoughts that are responsible for perpetuating low self-esteem, you can begin the process to change your beliefs about yourself. This process might be easier to do on the computer, so you can change the organization around so it makes sense to you without having to start your journal over again. A spreadsheet format is a good way to keep your thoughts organized and allows you plenty of room to experiment.

Many of our thoughts and feelings are locked in our subconscious mind and writing can help to bring them into our awareness. Writing about the way we feel and think can help to separate negative ideas about ourselves from the truth of who we really are.

17. Practice meditation

Meditation just means letting go of the racing thoughts in your mind and accepting that those thoughts, feelings and beliefs are transient, rather than parts of yourself. Take a few moments every day to simply be still, focus on your breathing and watch your worries drift away like clouds.

18. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness encourages us to become active and assertive in creating our own lives. Awareness of your thoughts and choosing your responses to them enables you to take action and participate in your own life.

19. Be proactive

If there is some truth in it, learn from what’s being said, rather than beating yourself up about it. Constructive criticism can be exactly that, provided you take the comments on board and make changes for the better.

20. Face you fears

Draw up what’s known as a fear pyramid, placing your biggest fear at the top and your smallest fears at the bottom. The idea is to work your way up the pyramid, taking on each fear and boosting your belief in your abilities as you go.

21. Celebrate small stuff

You got up on time this morning. Tick. You poached your eggs to perfection. Winning. Celebrating the small victories is a great way to build confidence and start feeling better about yourself.

Celebrate small stuff

22. Do what makes you happy

If you spend time doing the things you enjoy, you’re more likely to think positively. Try to schedule in a little you-time every day. Whether that’s time spent reading, cooking or just conking out on the couch for a bit, if it makes you happy, make time for it.

Bringing back positivity

23. Avoid comparison

Psychotherapists warn that comparisons only lead to a negative self-image, which can lead to poor self-esteem, stress, and anxiety that in turn can ruin your work, relationships, and physical and mental health.

24. Stop overthinking

Stop thinking others are better than you. While it’s fine to think highly of your peers or even your favorite celebrities, it’s irrational to translate this as meaning they are ‘better’ than you. Admire others’ traits, but not at the expense of your own. There is room for everyone to shine.

25. Develop awareness

When we’re aware, we can recognize how we are responding and reacting to our own fears, creating a moment between our emotions and our actions. We can then choose to respond in a healthier way.

26. Non-judgmental approach

When we approach our lives non-judgmentally, we simply accept ourselves, our experiences, our failures and successes and other people just as they are, neither good nor bad, without pride or shame.

27. Show involvement

When you have a beginner’s mind, you look at things as if you are seeing them for the first time, with openness, eagerness and freedom from expectation. You can see things in a new light, rather than automatically responding with the same old patterns of behaviour.

28. Build self-compassion

You deserve love as much as anyone else. Self-compassionsimply means providing yourself with the love, safety and acceptance you need. Non-attachment, or letting go, is the goal of mindfulness. When you let go of what you think you should do or who you should be, you can trust yourself and choose what’s right for you.

29. Repeat positive affirmations

Just as negative affirmations, such as you’re stupid, can be believed, they can also be unbelieved. Therefore, psychologists suggest that you repeat positive affirmations that you want to believe about yourself daily to help get you back on the right track to a time before you had low self-esteem. In fact, research shows that positive affirmations can even help lessen symptoms of depression and more.

Repeat positive affirmations

30. Learn to say ‘No’

Often we say yes because of the fear of authority, the fear of hurting someone’s feelings, or worries that we will let someone down. But every time you say a yes that you don’t mean, you’ll end up doing a half-hearted job. And then you are unhappy that you said what you didn’t want to say, and you are unhappy that you did such a lousy job of what you said you would do.

Break out of that habit. Instead, just say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t have to be rude about it; just be firm and decisive. Developing the ability to speak your mind in a kind but firm manner, and to really deliver on your promises, will go a long way in building lasting self-esteem.

31. Own yourself and actions

Again, at some point or the other in your life, intentionally or accidentally, you will let others down. When that happens, quit making excuses and accept them as a consequence of your choices. Quit the regret and focus on repair.

Always be prepared to say “I’m sorry” followed by “How can I fix it?” and make sure you put in genuine effort to fix things in a way that is acceptable to everyone involved. It takes a lot of effort, but a healthy self-esteem is rooted in knowing that you always do the right thing.

32. Help others

No amount of fortune, fame, success, beauty, intelligence, or strength can give you the same sense of personal gratification or a sense of purpose as a genuine “thank you” from someone you help.

When you stop being so wrapped up in your own worries, sorrows, and melodrama and start being a part of the bigger picture, with a role to play in this universe, your sense of self-worth and self-esteem gets a whole new definition. Give freely. Help whenever you can. You will get more than what you thought you ever needed.

Making yourself momentous

33. Set boundaries

Feeling resentful and used stems from accepting things from friends and family that you personally feel is unacceptable. Develop healthy boundaries by placing limits on what you will and won’t do and your resentment will ease.

34. Surround yourself with right people

Low self-esteem usually begins early in life at the hands of disapproving authority figures. For instance, if you were constantly told that you don’t measure up or you were criticized for everything you did, it can prevent you from growing into a confident adult with a positive self-image. Therefore, to help build your confidence, try surrounding yourself with positive, healthy people who acknowledge and reinforce your positive attributes as well as your contributions and who genuinely support you.

35. Stand up for yourself

You can certainly say no, and you can stand up for your rights without having to yell, and without having to give in. If you’re having trouble getting your point across, Psychology Tools recommends using a “broken record” approach, where you maintain politeness and a pleasant tone.

Stand up for yourself

36. Give yourself challenge

Chances are your negative sense of who you are is either outdated or simply untrue, and has been passed to you from others such as your parents, ex-partners or colleagues. Try telling yourself that you are a good person and you are worthy of love and respect just like everyone else. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your own script, it’s your life.

37. Let it go

One way to remain calm is to not let your feelings simmer away until you explode. Instead, express how you’re feeling at the time. Verbalizing your problems can help you process your emotions before they have a chance to flare up.

38. Move on

Either do something or don’t. Stop second-guessing your choices. For instance, if you want to make some tea, first learn how to make tea. Next gather all the ingredients you need. And then make tea.

Don’t worry about whether it will come out right. Don’t worry if anyone will like it. Don’t worry about whether you are worthy of making tea. Don’t worry about coffee drinkers. Don’t worry if you will ever get to make tea again. Don’t worry about what you will do after you make tea. Just make tea. And when you are done, move on.

Constantly worrying about your choice as you make the tea will not do any good to you, the tea, or anyone else around you. Immerse yourself in what you do.

39. Give back

Donating, volunteering, and helping others that are less fortunate, not only helps take the focus off your own issues, but it also makes you feel good knowing you are helping others. In fact, studies show that doing more things in your life that you can be proud of increases your self-worth, which helps you feel better about yourself.

In the end, people with a positive self-appreciation are open to improvement and more meaningful experiences, meaning they don’t rely on external reinforcements, such as status or income, for self-worth, which enables them to experience more happiness and delight in life. Therefore, be mindful of who you allow into your life as well as the circumstances you allow to dictate your self-worth. You should also be mindful to take care of yourself, including exercise and eating right, to help keep your both your body and your mind healthy.


40. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective at improving self-esteem. CBT addresses automatic negative thoughts. These thoughts are the thoughts that happen almost like a reflex when confronted with life situations. When undergoing CBT therapy, the therapist, who will most likely be a counselor or psychologist, works in partnership with the client to change those automatic beliefs. The counselor might suggest testing the client’s hypothesis, the client will fail no matter how hard the client studies.

The counselor might help the client with time management and stress skills and track studying progress until the student takes the test.

41. Psychodynamic therapy

With psychodynamic therapy, treatment plans are tailored to each person and their individual needs. In a psychodynamic session, the client is allowed to explore any and all issues arising for that day. The clinician helps the client look for behavior, thought, and emotional patterns related to that issue. Childhood issues and events are often explored to help the client understand how the past affects them and ties in with their present.


If you have low self-esteem, it affects every area of your life. It detracts from your enjoyment and happiness. Overcoming low self-esteem can be accomplished if a person is willing to work at it. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a lot of work and patience, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Hence, seek for help from a psychologist and worthy people.

Moving forward with Psychotherapy

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Stay well.