Dictionary.com defines self esteem as “a realistic respect for or a favorable impression of oneself.” Sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, not so much.
Many of us live with a self-esteem that does not serve us. We don’t believe that we are all that. That we are beautiful or kind or smart or thoughtful or successful or worthy. Instead, many of us believe that we will never amount to much in this world and we question whether we will ever succeed at anything, be it at love, at work or at getting healthy.
Tragically, our self-esteem gets destroyed by a lifetime of experiences, negative experiences that gradually eat away at the healthy self-esteem we are born with.
Fortunately, there are ways to rebuild your self-esteem. Rebuild it stronger than ever so that you are not afraid to take on the world and make your world what you want it to be.
#1 – Get out of that relationship that doesn’t serve you.
Are you in a relationship with someone who makes you feel bad about yourself in any way? Does your partner make you feel less than for not making your bed or for how you dress? Do they go out and do things with their friends and leave you alone, lonely? Do they refuse to talk about your feelings when you need them most?
If you are with someone who makes you feel bad about yourself GET OUT.
I have a client who is at a turning point in her life and she needs some time by herself to figure things out. She still loves her man and she has tried to explain to him what she has been thinking. Not only does he not get it and not support her but he also told her that she is “out of her mind.”
And how did she react? She believed him. Because her self-esteem told her that he was right and that the way he was treating her was what she deserved.
I begged to disagree and worked with her as she distanced herself from the relationship. She set out doing her work, building her self-esteem, and eventually she was able to see clearly what she really deserved in a relationship – someone who respected and cherished her.
Not the man who told her she was “out of her mind.”
So ditch any partner who doesn’t make you feel 100%. There are plenty of people out there who can and will help you feel great!
#2 – Accomplish something BIG.
There is no better way to build a steely self-esteem than setting a goal and reaching it.
Now is the time to think of something that you have always wanted to accomplish and make it happen.
My client who was trying to find her place in the world had always longed to have a health and wellness program at her farm. She had grand ideas but had a hard time getting started on making the program happen. Working together with me, we created a step-by-step plan for her to have a Wellness Weekend at her farm. She reached out to a friend whose expertise complemented hers and together they worked to create a weekend retreat for 10 women, one where they learned about health and wellness and self care.
How did my client feel after accomplishing her goal? Like a million bucks. Not only did she inspire 10 women to live healthier lives but by taking the actions necessary to make her dreams come to fruition she knew that she could take on the world and conquer it.
Kind of like a superhero, right? Unvanquishable!
#3 – Get your swagger on.
I have a friend who always says that he loves it when I get my “swagger on.” I, like everyone else, have periods of time when I don’t feel so good about myself and I have learned that the best way to get through those times quickly is to make doing what makes me feel good a priority.
I always try to eat well, get enough sleep, walk and do yoga every day. By doing so my body feels strong and healthy and my mind relatively clear. For me, the next step to making myself feel good is to encase that strong body in a tight pair of jeans, put on some cowboys boots and take myself out onto the streets of New York City. Getting my swagger on.
What gets your swagger on? Is it having your hair done every month? Power walking in the afternoon while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack? Reading every book on the NYT bestseller list?
Whatever it takes to make you feel like you can step out of your front door and walk down the street with a bit of swagger.
Your self-esteem is built on swagger.
#4 – Give of yourself to others.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can help build an iron clad self-esteem more than doing something for someone else. Truly, nothing.
When I was going through my divorce my self-esteem was at it’s lowest. On the advice of a friend I started volunteering weekly at the local food bank. Four hours a week of helping other people get food to eat, for themselves and their families, made me feel so good. And not because I felt lucky because I wasn’t in their position but because I knew that I had made a substantial, positive difference in their lives. It made my heart sing.
Many of us don’t have time to volunteer but we can make a difference in other ways. Hold the door open for someone, buy that homeless person sitting outside the grocery store a sandwich, reach out to a friend you know is going through a hard time, give up your seat on the subway.
There is nothing like being on the receiving end of a smile of gratitude to wake up your self-esteem. And once it’s awake it will be hungry for more.
So try it. Reach out and make a difference in someone’s life today
#5 – Spend time with those who love you.
You know those people who have known you forever and who love you completely and totally, no matter how many times you have screwed up and disappointed them. Yes, those people. Those people are the people who you want to spend time with.
My client who was trying to find herself and whose boyfriend wasn’t being supportive was really struggling to find the strength to do what she needed to do. She was prepared to settle back into the life she had. It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough. Right?
Lucky for her, one of her oldest friends was in town and a dinner was arranged for the two of them and a third member of their mommy posse. It was exactly what she needed.
Her friends did not hesitate to remind her of how awesome she was. They pointed to specific examples of where she had succeeded in the past, how loved and supported she was by others, how important she was to the world. By loving and supporting her so completely they gave steel to her self-esteem, allowing it to remind her that there was nothing that she couldn’t do because she had done it before.
Your posse is your self-esteem’s best friend!
When we are born we are gifted with the belief that we can do anything. Without it we might never learn to walk or talk or read or sing or love. Unfortunately, life experience can gradually rip our self-esteem to shreds.
Luckily, YOU can rebuild it. Rebuild it so that it’s bigger and stronger than it ever was before. Spend time only with those who love you, take care of yourself and others and make something BIG happen. Your self-esteem will be iron clad in no time.
You can do it! We both know you can!
Need more help rebuilding your self-esteem? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me help.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.