NSLAP WELLNESS TIP: Raising your self-esteem

The following contains, in part, an article excerpt from Homewood Human Solutions™, your health and wellness provider.

A healthy amount of self-esteem gives us the resilience to bounce back from adversity and the confidence to take charge of our lives without fearing rejection or criticism. We like ourselves. On the other hand, poor self-esteem can seriously damage our relationships, career and quality of life. But the good news is that with a little effort we can raise our self-esteem and grow to love ourselves.

Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves and how we perceive our value to the world and to others. Without a healthy amount of self-esteem we lack confidence, have a negative view of life and have trouble making decisions and communicating our needs effectively. This can lead to a lack of satisfying relationships and reluctance to pursue professional and personal goals.

Signs of low self-esteem
Everyone is different, but people can exhibit some or all of these characteristics:  

  • anxiety, depression and shyness;
  • feeling unloved and unlovable;
  • fear of being ridiculed;
  • negative thoughts about yourself, your abilities and life in general;
  • pessimism about your capacity to be successful;
  • difficulty accepting compliments and easily hurt by criticism;
  • perfectionist attitude;
  • mistrusting others — even those close to you;
  • frustration and impatience with yourself;
  • a lack of confidence in your decision-making abilities;
  • negatively comparing yourself to others;
  • tendency to blame yourself for negative events and not taking credit for positive ones;
  • an inability to overcome past negative emotional experiences; and
  • poor coping behaviours such as compulsive use of alcohol, nicotine, food or drugs.

Raising your self-esteem 

Here are some simple strategies to raise your feelings of self-worth:

  • Pursue your passions. Whether you love to play an instrument, sing, sew or dance – be sure to make time for it. Doing something that gives you joy not only lifts your spirits but also bestows a sense of accomplishment and pride as your skill improves. 
  • Exercise. Exercise makes you feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with receptors in your brain and trigger feelings of wellbeing and a positive and energizing outlook on life.
  • Volunteer. When we help other others, we feel valued. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people and lessen any feelings of isolation.
  • Take care of a pet. Pets offer unconditional love and give us attention and affection. They depend on us and taking care of their needs takes the focus away from your own problems.
  • Take pride in your appearance. When you look good, you feel good. You also project confidence – even if you don’t feel that way inside. Try to act as if you have confidence and eventually your inside will match your outside.
  • Heal past wounds. Past issues and traumas can keep you trapped in a mindset of negativity and self doubt. Seek the support of a professional counsellor to help you come to terms with what’s happened in your life.
  • Write down your accomplishments. Think back on your life and all you’ve accomplished. List everything you‘ve done that fills you with pride.
  • Practice affirmations. Keep an affirmation journal in which you write positive, loving statements about yourself. For example, “I am a wonderful parent,” “I am a caring friend,” “I am really good at my job.” Repeat those affirmations every day when you wake up and before you go to sleep.
  • Spend time with friends. Good friends accept us as we are, love us for who we are, and provide companionship and support. They make us feel valued and special.
  • Create boundaries. Know what your personal boundaries are and how you will react when people cross them. Don’t allow others to take advantage of you or manipulate you. Begin to demand more for and of yourself in various areas of your life.

And finally, be willing to ask for help. Seeking support is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of courage and a willingness to make positive changes. Heal the past, tackle the present and face the future with confidence.

For more information and support in raising your self-esteem, along with resources and counselling to improve your health and wellness, visit the NSLAP website at www.nslap.ca. Please note that LAP is your “company” name when you register. When you call the LAP number at 1 866 299 1299, your call will be answered any time, day or night, 365 days per year.