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How To Boost Your Self Esteem

No positive affirmations necessary.

23/10/2017 9:01 PM AEDT | Updated 23/10/2017 9:10 PM AEDT
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Self esteem is feeling good enough about yourself to depend on your own opinions and judgment.

When it comes to mental health, having a healthy sense of self esteem is important. Of course it's probably not a good idea to have the kind of self love that Kanye reserves for Kanye, but having a generally positive view about yourself and what you have to contribute is a good place to be in.

In fact, according to clinical psychologist and director of Armchair Psychology, Amanda Gordon, having good self esteem is key to how you make decisions and interact with society.

"Self esteem is about feeling good about yourself. It's about treating yourself with respect," Gordon told HuffPost Australia. "It implies knowledge of who you are. You have to have a sense of your own self.

"Self esteem is feeling good enough about yourself to depend on your own opinions and judgment."

However not everybody is blessed with a healthy sense of self. Symptoms of low self esteem include hating or disliking yourself, feeling that you're worthless, blaming yourself for things that aren't your fault, an inability to recognise your strengths and indecisiveness.

"People with low self esteem tend to go along with the pack," Gordon said. "They don't believe their own opinion.

"If you don't have self esteem you don't respect yourself, you don't value yourself. Ultimately it means you put your own happiness last."

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According to Gordon, the reasons behind low self esteem vary, and can be due to past or current circumstances.

"Sometimes people's self esteem is low because they have a childhood in which they haven't been valued," she said. "Or times in their life where they haven't been valued.

"Sometimes you have to go back and re-frame what happened in an earlier part of your life.

"In other circumstances, people have been hurt by what has been going on in a more current situation. So for instance, your self esteem can be impacted if you have been bullied. Or if for some reason you are not successful in your job or something you have continuously been working towards."

Whatever the reason, it's (thankfully) not a rut you have to stay in forever. There are actually actions you can take to help boost your self esteem and get back on track.

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Appreciate the little things.

First off? Take a look around and notice the positive things in your world.

"I think I'd start off by bouncing off the good things around me," Gordon said. "Ask yourself, 'what's a good thing that's happened to me today? What's something joyful in my life?'"

While Gordon also states positive affirmations can be helpful, she says they only go so far.

"Affirmations are good but they need to be contextualised," she said. "It's unlikely that, on their own, they are everything that is needed."

In fact some psychologists recommend avoiding them altogether.

"Positive affirmations are like empty calories. You can tell yourself you're great but if you don't really believe it, your mind will reject the affirmation and make you feel worse as a result," psychologist and author Guy Winch wrote for Psychology Today.

"Affirmations only work when they fall within the range of believability, and for people with low self-esteem, they usually don't."

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Step outside of your comfort zone.

The best thing to do to get your self esteem on track, according to Gordon, is to take a risk. This in itself is a bit of a catch 22 because it's likely to be the last thing someone with low self esteem feels like doing, but Gordon says it's important to persevere.

"I think taking a risk and trying something and surviving it would be the best thing to do," she said. "It makes it less about being successful and more about just doing.

"Move outside yourself. Try doing something for other people. Take risks. Try something new.

"It's about measuring success in different ways than the ways you have in the past."

Finally, if you find you're really not coping and are unable to view yourself in a positive light, Gordon recommends seeking professional help.

"If you find your low self esteem is holding you back, so perhaps you're not taking risks for your career or don't believe you're good enough to go on a date with someone who has asked you, I would see a psychologist," she said. "There are so many things we can do to support you. It doesn't mean you have to be in therapy forever. But it could help you facilitate your journey."

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