We all experience moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. Even the most confident and happy people have moments where they think “I’m such a failure.”
It’s a part of being human. However, if you find yourself having these kinds of negative thoughts frequently or letting these feelings get in the way of living a healthy and happy life, it may be time to do something about it.
Luckily, there are many ways to beef up your sense of self-worth! It probably won’t be easy, but rest assured that it can be done.
Building self-esteem can be a difficult, although very rewarding, journey for adults, but it’s much easier to plant this characteristic at a young age and tend to it as the child grows. If you are a parent, child therapist, teacher, or any other valued adult in the life of a child, I hope you can use these tools to seize the moment and begin cultivating a healthy sense of self-esteem in the children in your life.
We’ll provide several methods and activities for building self-esteem, starting with worksheets for young children and ending with worksheets for adults.
This article contains:
- Self-Esteem Worksheets for Kids in Primary School
- 7 Self-Esteem Activities for Teens in Middle or High School
- Exercises for Building Self-Esteem for College Students and Adults
- Tips for Overcoming Low Self-Esteem and Low Self-Worth
- Ten Days to Self-Esteem Improvement: An Action Plan
- A Take Home Message
Self-Esteem Worksheets for Kids in Primary School
Primary or elementary school is such a fantastic time to start helping your child develop self-esteem, if you haven’t already begun. Children’s minds are generally so much more flexible and open than adult minds, making it the perfect opportunity to begin planting the seeds of a healthy self-esteem.
The worksheet and activities listed below are some of the ways you can help a child develop the self-esteem that will act as a buffer from some of life’s most difficult obstacles and challenges.
About Me: Self-Esteem Sentence Completion
This is an activity that both children and adults can engage in, although this worksheet is specifically geared towards children. We will go over a similar worksheet for adults later in this piece.
The “About Me” worksheet is intended to help children identify their own positive traits and characteristics, and recognize their accomplishments.
It’s a simple worksheet with six sentence prompts and space for your child to fill in the blank.
The six sentence prompts are:
- I was really happy when…
- Something that my friends like about me is…
- I’m proud of…
- My family was happy when I…
- In school, I’m good at…
- Something that makes me unique is…
These sentences are constructed with clear and uncomplicated language that most primary school students should understand, but it may help to go over this worksheet with your child. Encourage your child to take their time and think about each sentence.
Completing this activity can help children build the foundations of an authentic and healthy self-esteem that they can carry with them for the rest of their life.
Types of Beauty Worksheet
This worksheet was created specifically for young girls to help them learn about what makes a person beautiful. This worksheet should be completed with a parent or trusted adult to help walk them through the distinction between inner beauty and outer beauty.
The worksheet includes the following instructions:
“Beauty comes in all different types. There are many ways to be beautiful, both on the inside or on the outside. When something about you is appealing to others, whether it’s your looks, or your smarts, or your personality, or your kindness, that’s a beautiful thing. List some ways that you are beautiful, either on the inside or the outside.”
Also included is the prompt “Things that make me beautiful” and space to write five things.
It’s okay to write something external, like “my hair” or “my eyes,” but make sure your child writes at least one or two inner traits or qualities in addition to the external qualities.
It’s never too early to start combating the extreme focus on external beauty for girls, and this worksheet is a great start. Of course, it can also be used with boys to help them learn the same lesson.
Toot Your Horn Worksheet
This worksheet can be an excellent way for young children to explore what makes them good or likeable people, and help them to build a foundation of healthy self-esteem.
The instructions are to print it out and complete the statements, without worrying too much if you can’t complete them all, and keeping them handy for the next time you experience feelings of low self-esteem.
The worksheet lists 20 sentence completion prompts that children should fill in with something positive about themselves, something that “toots their own horn.”
These prompts are as follows:
- I like myself because…
- I’m an expert at…
- I feel good about…
- My friends would tell you I have a great…
- My favorite place is…
- I’m loved by…
- People say I am a good…
- I’ve been told I have pretty…
- I consider myself a good…
- What I enjoy most is…
- The person I admire the most is…
- I have a natural talent for…
- Goals for my future are…
- I know I will reach my goals because I am…
- People compliment me about…
- I feel good when I…
- I’ve been successful at…
- I laugh when I think about…
- The traits I admire myself for are…
- I feel peaceful when…
Completing this worksheet will give your child an opportunity to list all of the good things about themselves without fear of being overly proud or self-absorbed. It’s good to be both realistic AND positive about yourself, and this is a good way to begin that tradition of positive realism.
Your child may need your help in completing this worksheet, but try to let them come up with their own ideas about the traits and characteristics they like in themselves.
Recipe for Making Friends
This is a great worksheet for helping children to learn about what makes them good friends, and what they should look for in a friend.
Completing this worksheet will likely take some guidance from an adult, but it can be a very positive way to start thinking about what kind of person they want to be.
It’s a simple activity with only one short set of instructions:
“List the character traits (friendly, good listener, cooperative, etc.) required to make friends. Beside each trait, explain what it looks like and why it’s important.”
Next, it provides space for your child to write down five traits and explain why they are important in a friend.
The minimal nature of this worksheet allows your child to put their imagination to good use. They might need some help from you, but they should be able to come up with several traits that they find important in a friend.
This activity is great for any age, but this template is meant specifically for young children. To see a version for adults, scroll down to the section on worksheets for adults.
Keeping a self-esteem journal is a great way for your child to begin thinking about the good things that they do and experience, setting them up for a positive outlook on life.
This worksheet lists three sentence completion prompts for each day of the week, starting with Monday.
For Monday, your child is prompted to respond to or fill in these sentences:
1) Something I did well today…
2) Today I had fun when…
3) I felt proud when…
On Tuesday, the prompts include:
1) Today I accomplished…
2) I had a positive experience with…
3) Something I did for someone…
Wednesday’s prompts are:
1) I felt good about myself when…
2) I was proud of someone else…
3) Today was interesting because…
On Thursday, your child is prompted with:
1) I felt proud when…
2) A positive thing I witnessed…
3) Today I accomplished…
Friday’s prompts include:
1) Something I did well today…
2) I had a positive experience with (a person, place, or thing)…
3) I was proud of someone when…
On Saturday, the prompts are:
1) Today I had fun when…
2) Something I did for someone…
3) I felt good about myself when…
And finally, Sunday’s prompts are:
1) A positive thing I witnessed…
2) Today was interesting because…
3) I felt proud when…
Completing these prompts every night for a week should help your child feel more optimistic and begin focusing on the good things that happen instead of the bad.
7 Self-Esteem Activities for Teens in Middle or High School
While it’s best to start self-esteem building young, there is still tons of room for growth and development in this area for middle and high schoolers. The activities and worksheets below can help your teenager or adolescent start or continue building a healthy sense of self-esteem.
Affirmations are a popular way to help combat low self-esteem in both adults and adolescents. This worksheet from Paul Ogunkoya at www.self-esteem-school.com will guide adolescents through the development of affirmations.
First, the worksheet provides instructions on how to create effective affirmations:
- Affirmations start with the words “I am…”
- Affirmations are positive. Never use the word not in an affirmation.
For example, instead of writing “I am not afraid of public speaking” you could write “I am confidently delivering a presentation.”
- Affirmations are short.
- Affirmations are specific.
For example, instead of writing “I am driving a new car” you would write “I am driving a new black Range Rover.”
- Affirmations are in the present tense including a word that ends in “ing.”
- Affirmations have a “feeling” word in them.
Examples include “confidently,” “successfully,” or “gracefully.”
- Affirmations are about yourself.
Affirmations should be about your own behavior, never someone else’s.
Once you have read and understood the guidelines, the worksheet provides space for you to write down some affirmations of your own. It’s okay to refer back to the guidelines as much as you need.
When you have a set of affirmations ready to put to use, you can move on to the instructions for using them:
- Use positive self-talk.
- Set big goals and stay mindful of your goals (write them down and place them somewhere you can see them every day).
- Say and visualize your affirmations every day.
- Take time to see yourself accomplishing the goals you’ve set.
- Think about how good it will feel once you have accomplished your goals – feel that feeling you would feel when the goal is accomplished.
Next, the worksheet provides an example goal, affirmations, and ways to follow the instructions to meet your goals.
Finally, the worksheet ends with a schedule to keep. You should do all these steps three times a day:
1) When you wake up
2) At lunch
3) Before you go to bed
Visualizing and planning for success in meeting your goals makes it exponentially more likely that you will achieve them. Give your child guidance and support when coming up with affirmations if needed, but let them take ownership of this activity and see the amazing results of their commitment.
Self Confidence Worksheet
This worksheet can be completed by adolescents and teenagers who wish to work on building or improving their sense of self-esteem and self-confidence.
It begins with these instructions:
- Print and complete the statements.
- Keep your completed worksheets handy. The next time you’re feeling low self-esteem and need a boost, read your worksheet and be reminded of your personal power, and use it to transform situations in which you feel less confident.
The worksheet is divided into three parts.
Part One involves thinking of a situation in which you felt confident and experienced a sense of self-worth, and answering the following questions:
- What is the situation?
- What do you say to yourself about the situation (self-talk)? How do you feel physically?
- What sensations and feelings do you have in your body?
- What do you do as a result of this?
Part Two involves thinking of a recent situation in which you felt lacking in self-confidence and wish to change if you could, and answering the same four questions listed above.
In Part Three, you are instructed to look at your answers to Part Two and use that information to answer these questions:
- What positive statement could I say to myself to be reminded of my power?
- What could I do that would help me feel differently? (For example, create a visualization in which I remember how I felt in Part One).
- What could I do differently, next time I am in this situation? What actions would empower me?
Completing this worksheet will help your teen or adolescent to explore their feelings in two very different situations, analyze their responses to these situations, and come up with an action plan to address their next low self-esteem episode.
This exercise will help them take control of their development and give them a sense of ownership in their own well-being, a trait that will serve them well in the future.
List Your Wins in Life
This worksheet is a great way for your child to reflect on all the good things that he or she has accomplished already, and visualize their next big wins.
The instructions are to write down three things you have succeeded at for each phase of your life up to this point. When you find yourself feeling down because you haven’t achieved what you wanted, you can refer back to this worksheet and remember all your achievements thus far and let your past success inspire you to future success.
The successes are divided into four categories:
- The first phase of my life
- The second phase of my life
- Recent successes
- Success I want to achieve in the next 5 years
For each section, you should write down the age range you are assigning to each category (e.g., 0 – 10 years, 11 – 16 years, etc.) and list three accomplishments from each period.
Even if you think you are a failure who hasn’t achieved much, this worksheet will help you to see that there are many things you have already succeeded at. At the least, you have succeeded in surviving to your current age – that’s a win!
Coat of Arms / Family Crest
This activity is especially great for teens and adolescents who are crafty and creative, although people of all ages and talents can take part.
The coat of arms / family crest is an artistic prompt for your child to draw, paint, or otherwise represent the things about themselves that are important to them. There is an option to use a theme for this activity or for each prompt, like “family,” but it’s okay to engage in this activity with no specific theme in mind as well.
This is a simple worksheet with only the “crest” divided into four quadrants and a banner underneath. In each quadrant, your child can represent the values and traits that they hold dear, and summarize them in the banner below.
For example, if your child is dealing with self-esteem issues, they can summarize the coat of arms in the banner below as “What Makes Me Great” and focus on filling their coat of arms with reasons why they are a good friend, a good child, a good student, and a good person in general.
This activity is a very basic technique that you can build on or add to as you wish. The point of this activity is simply to help your child identify their goals and list at least three ways in which they can work towards each goal.
Striving towards and achieving one’s goals is an important and valuable way to build self-esteem. You build the most solid foundation of self-esteem and self-confidence on the building blocks of positive experience and success. The more children recognize their ability to meet the goals they set for themselves, the more likely they are to feel confident and worthy.
This worksheet is a very simple space to write down three goals and three things your child can do to reach each goal.
For a more detailed goal planning exercise, you can try this worksheet. It allows your teenager or adolescent to focus on one goal area in particular, and dive a little deeper in their planning for each milestone.
It begins with the section titled “Setting Goals” with the following prompts:
1) Something I want to accomplish in the next week:
2) In the next month:
3) In the next year:
4)In five years:
The second section is titled “Obstacles and Strategies,” and includes the following prompts:
1) Obstacles to reaching my goals:
2) Things I will need to do to achieve my goals:
3) What I can begin doing tomorrow to work toward my goals:
This worksheet is a great way to help your teen or adolescent plan for a goal that is larger or more challenging than some of their more immediate goals.
Flipping Your Mistakes, Failures, & Obstacles
Another great worksheet from Paul Ogunkoya at www.self-esteem-school.com, this activity will help your teenager or adolescent learn to accept their failures and use them to learn and improve their chances of future success. We all fail sometimes, and it’s important for children and teens to learn early on that failure happens to everybody and does not mean the one who failed IS a failure.
The instructions on this worksheet direct your teen to list the mistakes, obstacles, and failures that have had the most impact on them. Instead of stopping at the admittedly discouraging list of all the bad things that have happened, the worksheet provides just as much space to write down how your child plans to “flip it.”
Next is the table in which they will write these failures and mistakes down. In the left column, the heading is “Mistakes, Failures, Obstacles.” In the right column, the heading is “How I Will Flip It.”
An example is provided to help your teen think about how to go about completing this worksheet.
In the left column is the example “I allowed myself to get into too much debt.”
In the right column is the plan to flip it: “I will be more disciplined with my spending and pay off all of my debts using a consolidation plan.”
This worksheet encourages the development of an extremely valuable skill: recognizing that failing is a part of life, and that failures can lead to even greater success. Sometimes we have to fail in order to learn the lessons that propel us to greatness. Learning to fail gracefully and maintaining a sense of worth even in the face of failure is extremely important in keeping a healthy sense of self-esteem.
Your teen may need help with the first mistake and plan to flip it, but they should catch on quick.
The worksheet ends with a reminder: “The purpose of ‘Flipping It’ is to empower yourself and make you see that there is a way out, so rather than just accepting a bad situation as your ‘fate’ empower yourself and FLIP IT.”
You can download the printable version of the PDF here.
Exercises for Building Self-Esteem for College Students and Adults
Again, while building self-esteem is a practice best started young, it’s never too late to begin investing in your own self-worth. These worksheets and exercises from www.theranest.com are intended to help adults build up their self-worth.
Sentence Completion Worksheet
This worksheet from leads the reader through a sentence completion exercise for adults. This exercise is exactly what it sounds like: it includes prompts with blank space at the end for you to complete the sentence in the way that feels right to you.
Completing this exercise can help you explore your thoughts and feelings, open up, and share them with others.
The instructions at the top of this worksheet inform the reader that this exercise will help them to become more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, making it easier to work through their self-esteem issues.
Next, it instructs the reader to set aside five minutes a few times a week to complete the worksheet. After two weeks of completing this worksheet, you can review your responses to get an idea of your general outlook on life and see how things have changed since you began. The intended result is for your answers to become more positive over time.
After the instructions, the sentence prompts are listed, including:
- My best friend is…
- Sometimes I wish I could…
- The thing I fear most is…
- Today I would like to…
- I’d really enjoy…
- I feel my future is…
- I gain strength from…
- I would never…
- I was really happy when…
- I love when…
- I struggle when…
- I believe that…
- I get angry when…
- Today I fear that…
- Today is going to be…
- I hope that…
- I thrive when…
- Today I would like to…
- I secretly enjoy…
- I don’t like to admit…
- Today I believed that…
Answering these questions can give you helpful insight into yourself, into what makes you happy and what you struggle with.
As a therapist, you can introduce this exercise to your client by filling out a few sample prompts together. This can communicate important messages to your client and help them feel more comfortable with the exercise.
For example, you can finish the prompt “Right now, I’m happy that…” with “my favorite hockey team won last night.” This can be a good way to defuse tension and start off with an easy and relatively harmless example.
Self-Esteem Journal Template
For those of you who have read about or kept a gratitude journal, this exercise will feel familiar. Not only can journaling help you to find more things in your life to be grateful for, it can also give you the opportunity to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings, leading to discovery and understanding of the self.
The worksheet begins with a short paragraph on the potential benefits of journaling, including improved self-esteem and well-being. The reader is encouraged to use this template to reflect on the meaningful moments of their day, and review the changes in their emotions and general outlook over time.
Next, there are five tables set up with space to write the date and prompts to respond to.
The first table includes the following prompts:
- 10 things that brought me peace today were:
- I felt empowered when:
- I had fun when:
The prompts in the second table are as follows:
- My loved ones are proud of me because:
- 5 things that went well today were:
- I feel happiest when:
The third table includes:
- My best quality is:
- 3 things that make me unique are:
- The best part of today was:
In the fourth table, the prompts read:
- I’m looking forward to:
- 10 people or things I am grateful for are:
- I feel strongest when:
The final table lists these three prompts:
- I feel best about myself when:
- My greatest accomplishment today was:
- The 3 things I love most about my life are:
You have probably noticed that each of these prompts is intended to provoke positive responses. The positive focus of this exercise is what sets it apart from ordinary journaling or writing in a diary. Even when you have a rough day, these prompts can help you find the good things in your life and remind you that no matter how rough the day was, you survived it.
If you are a therapist providing this worksheet to your client(s), encourage them to think critically about what their answers reveal. This exercise can be just a quick and short-term mood boost, or, with commitment and effort, it can facilitate positive growth and development.
To see this worksheet for yourself, click here.
Gratitude Worksheet & Journal Template
If you are not familiar with the gratitude journal technique, this worksheet is an excellent way to give it a try.
Research has linked gratitude to a multitude of positive outcomes, like increasing well-being, improving our relationships, making us more optimistic, and even helping us to find meaning in our work.
Gratitude journaling is one of the best ways to inject more gratitude into your daily life, and it can be done in just a few minutes a day.
The gratitude journal worksheet opens with some tips to help you journal effectively, including recording at least five things you are grateful for each day, aiming for one new thing to be grateful for each day, and reading through old entries to see how far you have come since you began.
The template is simple, with space for the date, five entries below the prompt “Today, I am grateful for…” and space to respond to “Something I need to express gratitude for…” In this last column, you should think of something that you have not yet expressed your gratitude for, such as a teacher who profoundly affected your development that you never thanked or something you may have taken for granted, like good general health.
There are many ways to set up and complete a gratitude journal, but this is a great way to begin.
Negative Self Talk Worksheet
This exercise is a great way to address negative automatic thoughts and self-talk, common problems that people with low self-esteem or mental health issues face. It’s not surprising that talking down to yourself will lead to and exacerbate self-esteem problems, but the good news is that it is not an unsolvable problem.
Challenging negative self-talk is a core technique in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of therapy that has proven effective in a wide range of conditions, diagnoses, and problems. CBT helps clients discover some of their most deeply held, often unconscious, beliefs, allowing them to evaluate these beliefs and challenge those that are not useful.
This thought-stopping worksheet opens with an explanation of negative self-talk and how you can identify and confront it.
Next, the negative thought table is presented. It includes six columns intended to help you understand where your negative thoughts are coming from and help you challenge each one.
Trigger – in this column, you write down what prompted your negative thought. Maybe you noticed a typo in a paper or report you wrote, or caught a glimpse of your reflection when you weren’t looking your best. Whatever it was, think back to the moment the negative thought first popped into your head, and write down whatever immediately preceded it.
Negative Thought – in this column, you are prompted to write down the negative thought. This might be difficult to do, but remember that we are about to challenge it.
Associated Emotion – for this column you think about the emotion(s) that arise when saying the negative thought out loud. Whether it’s anger, sadness, guilt, disgust, or another emotion entirely, write down whatever feelings are provoked by voicing the negative thought.
Evidence That Does Not Support the Thought – this is where you must think hard about the negative thought and decide how well it truly applies to you. Much of our negative self-talk is guilty of a cognitive distortion like exaggeration, all-or-nothing thinking, or focusing only on the negative. You will likely find that, even if there is a sliver of truth behind the negative thought, the thought is a truth taken to an extreme.
For example, you may have gotten some disappointing feedback from your boss on a report you handed in, but if you’re thinking “I’m a failure at everything,” you have fallen prey to taking a single incident and overgeneralizing. Instead of giving in to the thought, write down all of the evidence that does not support the thought, like “I graduated from college. I have turned in several reports that my boss had no problems with.”
Alternative Thought – this is a very important part of the exercise, in which you reflect on the thought and come up with a replacement thought. This thought should be more in line with the truth, but with a positive message. For example, you could write “I made a mistake, but I will not make it again going forward.”
Associated Emotion (Part II) – once you have come up with an alternative thought, say it out loud and write down how it makes you feel. The alternative thought should make you feel more positively than the original negative thought, even if the alternative thought acknowledges that you made a mistake or that your current situation is not ideal.
This tried-and-true technique will help you or your client to recognize negative thoughts and challenge them on the spot, leading to greater self-esteem and peace with the self.
If one of your clients is having trouble coming up with positive responses to their negative thoughts, encourage them to consider what they would say to a dear friend or loved one who was struggling with these thoughts. Sometimes it’s easier to be kind to others than to ourselves, but that is something that can be remedied with time and practice.
Identifying and Challenging Core Beliefs
Similar to challenging negative thoughts, it can be an extremely effective therapeutic technique to discover, identify, and challenge your core beliefs. We often carry negative or false unconscious or semiconscious beliefs, never stopping to recognize the values and norms that we apply on a daily basis.
This exercise will help you or your client explore and define your most deeply held beliefs, the beliefs that guide your thoughts and behavior every day.
The worksheet begins with an explanation of what core beliefs are:
“Core beliefs can be defined as the very essence of how people see themselves, others, the world, and the future.”
Next, it explains how core beliefs can influence one’s thinking and emotions through an example interaction.
“Interaction: Jesse has a performance review coming up. She is deciding whether or not she deserves the promotion she wants.”
In this situation, Jesse must choose between three shirts to wear to work, each representing a different core belief:
Red shirt – “I am deserving”
Internal thought associated: “I am a hard worker with a strong work ethic. I deserve this promotion.”
Jesse’s reaction: Jesse feels confident as she enters her performance review, and subsequently gets a promotion.
Green Shirt – “I’m not sure I am deserving.”
Internal thought associated: “I work hard, but someone else will probably get the promotion over me.”
Jesse’s reaction: Jesse doesn’t feel great heading into the performance review. She gets a good review but does not get the promotion.
Blue Shirt – “I’m not deserving.”
Internal thought associated: “There’s no way I’m getting a promotion. My coworkers are smarter than me.
Jesse’s reaction: Jesse does not get the promotion.
These examples show that the thoughts we carry with us, everywhere we go, can have a profound impact on our feelings, our behavior, and the associated outcomes.
Finally, the worksheet presents an opportunity to apply what you have learned from these examples to your own life. You are prompted to identify three negative core beliefs, and three reasons that each belief is not true.
It can be difficult to identify the first core belief, especially if you have several very deeply held negative beliefs that you have never even considered challenging before; however, once you get the ball rolling with the first belief, it should get easier as you go.
Assertive Communication Worksheet
Low self-esteem and poor or underdeveloped communication skills often go hand in hand. It can be difficult to share feelings when others if you don’t feel your feelings have value, an all-too-common symptom of low self-esteem.
Learning to communicate assertively will not only help you form better relationships and find new opportunities, it can also facilitate a shift in the way you think about yourself.
To those with low self-esteem, the word “assertive” may make them hesitant. Being assertive might sound overly aggressive, pushy, or just way too out of character for some people to try.
The worksheet addresses this right away with an explanation about how three common communication styles differ:
- Passive Communication
Defined by being too nice or weak, overly compliant, avoiding eye contact, speaking softly, putting one’s self down, being emotionally dishonest, and allowing others to trample you in conversation.
- Assertive Communication
Defined by being firm but polite, compromising, maintaining warm and friendly eye contact and a conversational tone, building up others and one’s self, being appropriately honest, and standing up for one’s self.
- Aggressive Communication
Defined by speaking in a mean, harsh, or sarcastic manner, taking instead of compromising, maintaining glaring eye contact and speaking in loud or threatening tones, putting others down, being inappropriately honest, and bullying or trampling others.
When compared in this way, it is clear that being an assertive communicator is nothing like being an aggressive communicator. Assertive communication is simply expressing yourself “in an open, honest, and direct way.” (TheraNest.com)
The worksheet provides space and instructions to record three instances where you have communicated assertively and list the emotions you felt afterwards. If you can’t think of an instance where you have communicated assertively, don’t worry! You can make that a goal for yourself in the next week.
You can download the printable version of the PDF here.
Tips for Overcoming Low Self-Esteem and Low Self-Worth
Apart from these worksheets and activities, there are tons of tips out there on building self-esteem and self-worth.
Dr. John M. Grohol offers these six tips in a post on psychcentral.com:
- Take a self-esteem inventory to give yourself a baseline.
It can be as simple as writing down 10 of your strengths and 10 of your weaknesses. This will help you to begin developing an honest and realistic conception of your self.
- Set realistic expectations.
It’s important to set small, reachable goals that are within your power. For example, setting an extremely high expectation or an expectation that someone else will change their behavior is virtually guaranteed to make you feel like a failure, through no fault of your own.
- Stop being a perfectionist and acknowledge both your accomplishments and mistakes.
Nobody is perfect, and trying to be will only lead to disappointment. Acknowledging your accomplishments and recognizing your mistakes is the way to keep a positive outlook while learning and growing from your mistakes.
- Explore yourself.
The importance of knowing yourself and being at peace with who you are cannot be overstated. This can take some trial and error, and you will constantly learn new things about yourself, but it is a journey that should be undertaken with purpose and zeal.
- Be willing to adjust your self-image.
We all change as we age and grow, and we must keep up with our ever-changing selves if we want to set and achieve meaningful goals.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
Comparing ourselves to others is a trap that is extremely easy to fall into, especially today with social media and the ability to project a polished, perfected appearance. The only person you should compare yourself to is you (Grohol, 2011).
Henrik Edberg at www.positivityblog.com offers a similar set of tips to improving your self-esteem:
- Say “stop” to your inner critic.
- Use healthier motivation habits.
- Take a 2-minute self-appreciation break.
- Write down 3 things in the evening that you can appreciate about yourself.
- Do the right thing.
- Replace the perfectionism.
- Handle mistakes and failures in a more positive way.
- Be kinder towards other people.
- Try something new.
- Stop falling into the comparison trap.
- Spend more time with supportive people (and less time with destructive people).
- Remember the “whys” of high self-esteem (Edberg, 2017).
To read these tips in more detail, you can visit Edberg’s blog post on improving self-esteem here.
Ten Days to Self-Esteem Improvement: An Action Plan
While it can take time to build up a solid sense of self-esteem, you are able to kick start the process if you want a quick boost.
For a guide on quick ways to put the process in motion, check out the book Ten Days to Self-Esteem by renowned psychiatrist and author Dr. David Burns. While self-help books are often hit-or-miss, Dr. Burns has an impressive record of success with his patients and his readers. At the very least, it can’t hurt to give it a shot!
This book will guide the reader through identifying the causes of low self-esteem and activities and exercises to start improving self-esteem. It’s written in plain English, not psychiatric jargon, and enjoys an impressive four star rating on Amazon.
If you don’t have the patience to wait for the book to arrive, there are some things you can do now to jump start your self-esteem journey:
- Think hard about the root cause(s) of your insecurities. The first step to defeating a formidable foe is to learn about them, and this situation is no different. Identifying the events that led to a low sense of self-worth can provide invaluable information for challenging these negative beliefs.
- Use the Negative Self-Talk and Identifying and Challenging Core Beliefs worksheets (available in the adult worksheets section) to help you identify these thoughts and begin to replace them with alternative thoughts.
- Be kind to yourself. If you find yourself being excessively negative to yourself, stop and consider how you would feel if someone said these things about a close friend or family member. Extend that kindness and compassion to yourself.
- Make a plan. Set achievable and realistic short-term goals for yourself to complete in the next week or so. That sense of achievement, however small the achievement, can be an excellent boost to your motivation and commitment to improve.
- Celebrate your success. When you meet a goal, successfully challenge a negative thought, or catch yourself extending kindness towards yourself, mark the achievement with a celebration! Taking the time to revel in your success and enjoy the moment can give you the inspiration you need to continue your journey to self-improvement.
A Take Home Message
I hope this piece helped you find useful ways to begin or continue working on your self-esteem, but if you only leave with one lesson learned, I hope it is this:
You can improve. You can get better. You can reach your goals.
It may not feel like it at the moment, but know that no matter how down you might be feeling, there is always room for growth and improvement.
Thanks for reading!
If you have used any of these techniques or have another way to boost your self-esteem, please share your experience with us in the comments section.
- Edberg, H. (2017). How to improve your self-esteem: 12 powerful tips. The Positivity Blog. Retrieved from http://www.positivityblog.com/improve-self-esteem/
- Grohol, J. (2011). 6 tips to improve your self-esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/10/30/6-tips-to-improve-your-self-esteem/