7 Practical Steps To Boost Self-Esteem And Self Confidence
Is low self-esteem holding you back? These 7 steps to improve self-esteem and self-worth will show you how to boost self-esteem and start building confidence to reach for your dreams.
What Is Self-Esteem?
Psychotherapist and writer, Nathaniel Branden, wrote a number of books on self-esteem psychology, including A Woman's Self-Esteem.
Nathaniel Branden’s definition of self-esteem - meaning the belief that we are competent enough to cope with life's challenges and that we deserve happiness - also states that self-esteem is about having confidence in our ability to think for ourselves.
But self-esteem is not just an abstract idea, nor can we improve self-esteem by memorising affirmations or understanding concepts. Rather, to boost self-esteem and self-confidence we need to take the necessary actions to break away from self-sabotaging patterns that harm us. When we live in alignment with our core truths, we can create more satisfying lives.
In his book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Branden suggests six practices that form the foundation of our self-esteem:
- Living consciously
- Living purposefully
- Personal integrity
His book, A Woman's Self-Esteem, is based on the stories of women who have struggled with self-esteem issues and is a guide for helping women understand how they can change their own lives by taking positive action.
7 Practical Steps To Boost Your Self-Esteem And Self Confidence
At the core of our selves, there exists an inner child or inner being - that some people like to call our conscience or Higher Self or Higher Power (or a multitude of other names).
This is the source of our guidance - it knows what we want and guides our actions towards our deepest desires every second of every day.
Every time you think a thought or take an action that is in alignment with what your inner being thinks, it boosts your self-esteem and self-confidence, and you feel good.
But every time you think a thought or take an action that is not in alignment with what your inner being thinks, it lowers your self-esteem and self-confidence, and you feel bad.
Your emotions are your guide to how aligned you are with what your inner being thinks. So how can you listen to your inner being in such a way that you consistently boost your self-esteem?
1. Get in alignment with yourself
Spend some time by yourself every day and get quiet. Whether you choose to meditate, focus on your breathing, play meditation music, or just sit still for a while, try to quiet your mind for just a few minutes a day to still your mental chatter.
“Silence is essential for deep transformation. It allows the practice of conscious breathing to become deep and effective. Like still water that reflects things as they are, the calming silence helps us to see things more clearly, and therefore, to be in deeper contact with ourselves and those around us.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
With practice you will be able to increase the time you spend in silent contemplation or meditation and get in touch with your inner being.
This will help you be more in tune with what your inner being really feels, so you can act in accordance with your core values and desires.
2. Stop caring about what other people think
Most of us, and women especially, are taught to care too much about what other people think. Our lack of self-acceptance often stems from trying to look thinner, fairer, prettier, younger - just so that other people will love us.
But other people will only accept you if you accept yourself completely, with all your flaws and imperfections.
“The day you stop caring what other people think of you is the day your life begins.” ~ Aaron Eckhart
If you want to help others in your life, you cannot help them from a position of weakness. You have to help yourself first - and the best way to do that is to stop caring about what other people think.
You can only help other people in your life by your example - by being a role model for self-acceptance, high self-esteem and self-confidence.
3. Live in alignment with your values
If you want to live consciously, as Branden puts it, you need to live in alignment with your values. It doesn’t matter what other people say or do. It doesn’t matter what they expect from you.
The only thing that matters is that you live in alignment with your own cherished values and maintain your personal integrity, even if it means having to disappoint those closest to you.
For example, your parents may want you to get married and have kids, but that if that is not what you want for yourself, it would be better for your own self-esteem and mental health to choose yourself and your own desires over their expectations.
As another example, your parents may want you to get a steady job, but you may decide that freedom is your most cherished value and that you want to become a digital nomad or travel blogger.
Even if it doesn’t seem to be the most practical choice, choosing to align with your own values will make you happier and boost your self-esteem, rather than if you decided to give in to your parent’s expectations.
“If you’re not selfish enough to come into alignment with who you really are, you have nothing to give anyone anyway.” ~ Esther Hicks
Living in integrity means realizing that the only opinion that matters is your own. If you want to act in alignment with your inner being, you need to listen to your heart and do what it tells you to do – even when the rest of the world is saying otherwise.
4. Focus on doing things that build your self-confidence
For many of us, our lack of confidence comes from having to do things that we’re not good at or don’t have the skills to do well. Contrary to what people say, you do not have to be good at everything. Intelligence and talent come in many forms.
While everyone has the capacity to learn new skills, remember that what you focus on becomes bigger in your life. So, if you focus on your weaknesses and try to “overcome” them, you’ll always lack confidence.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein
The first step to building confidence in yourself and your abilities is to focus your thoughts and efforts on the things you’re good at. Excelling in even one thing can help in building self-confidence and self-esteem.
You can boost confidence in yourself by choosing a profession or career that allows you to focus on your strengths and excel at the skills you need to reach the top of your profession.
For example, you may want to be an actor, but your parents want you to study medicine - a common desire among Indian parents who want the most lucrative profession for their kids.
If you agree to do what your parents want, because you lacked the courage to stand your ground, you’ll spend many miserable years in the wrong profession - years that you could have spent honing your skills as an actor.
If you choose not to speak up or stand your ground, only you can take responsibility for your lack of self-confidence by trying to be successful in a profession that you don’t enjoy.
This brings me to the next step to boost self-esteem – assertiveness.
5. Learn how to be assertive and stand up for your beliefs
Self-assertiveness is another pillar of self-esteem that Nathaniel Branden recommends. Being assertive means presenting your viewpoint and saying what you feel in a clear, concise manner. It is a skill that every woman should have.
There are many occasions when women don’t speak up for themselves, as when facing domestic abuse, sexual harassment, bullying at work, or when our parents, in-laws, or husbands are trying to force us to do something we don’t agree with.
Most women are brought up to be non-confrontational, “nice girls” and told that we should not argue or talk back to elders. But it's never too late to learn the rules of assertiveness and how to use it at work or at home.
To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough. ~ Edith Eva Eger
Learning how to be assertive and to say no, when you need it, will help you stand up for your beliefs, set boundaries, and express your thoughts in a healthy manner while being sensitive to the feelings of others.
6. Take responsibility for your own life and happiness
As long as you’re blaming other people for the way your life has turned out, you have no power to change it. Self-responsibility, or taking responsibility for everything you create in your life, gives you the power to turn things around.
Instead of giving up your power and letting other people make all your decisions for you - from where to invest your money to choosing what sort of work you want to do - start taking your own decisions and accept responsibility for the consequences.
“Blame doesn't empower you. It keeps you stuck in a place you don't want to be because you don't want to make the temporary, but painful decision, to be responsible for the outcome of your own life's happiness.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
When you start taking responsibility for everything you create, it will help you boost self-esteem and gain confidence in your ability to take care of yourself and your loved ones and bounce back from adversity.
So, if your husband’s business fails, you don’t have to sit with your head in your hands and blame him for being a failure. You can take action to become financially independent and start your own business from home or get a remote job.
This brings me to the final step – becoming financially independent.
7. Become financially independent
Financial independence can improve self-esteem by transforming your self-image (the way you see yourself) and help you build self-respect and self-confidence.
For any woman - but especially Indian women - becoming financially independent can boost your feelings of self-belief and self-worth.
“Financial independence is about having more choices.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki
Financial independence can give you the courage to leave an abusive relationship and the confidence to live life in accordance with your most deeply cherished values.
I hope these ways to improve self-esteem will help you take action on your own behalf, so you can leave your days of low-esteem and low-confidence behind.
Did you find these self-esteem examples and steps for building self-esteem helpful? Do post your own struggles with building positive self-esteem in the comments below.
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