Overcoming Low-Self Esteem: How To Feel Better About Yourself

Overcoming Low-Self Esteem: How To Feel Better About Yourself

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Struggling with low self-esteem can significantly impact your daily life and overall well-being. 

It has become increasingly easier to compare ourselves to others due to social media, thinking that we are not good enough, and that other people are better than others, causing low-self esteem across hundreds of individuals. In this article, we will look at practical strategies for overcoming low self-esteem as well as guidance on how to feel better about yourself. From building a supportive network to setting achievable goals, we’ll provide you with ways to boost your self-esteem. 

To aid in improving self-esteem, we offer a dedicated program for managing stress and adapting a personal development plan.

What is Self-Esteem?

overcoming low-self esteem

Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself and your abilities. It’s shaped by your experiences, relationships, and thoughts about yourself. Self-esteem can be unstable and often relies on external validation and judgement. 

This fluctuation can be problematic, particularly in today’s social media-driven world where constant comparison is common. Self-esteem influences your “self-talk” – the internal dialogue you have with yourself. Negative self-talk can lead to self-criticism and lower self-esteem, while excessively positive self-talk can sometimes lead to arrogance and the need to put others down to feel better.

Self-esteem differs from self-confidence. While self-esteem is about how you value yourself, self-confidence is about how much you trust your abilities to perform tasks. You might be highly skilled (high self-confidence) but still doubt your worth (low self-esteem). 

Life experiences, starting from childhood, significantly impact your self-esteem. Trauma, significant life changes, and your environment can all affect how you view yourself.

What Can Lower Self-Esteem?

what can lower self-esteem

Understanding what lowers self-esteem is crucial for overcoming low self-esteem and learning how to feel better about yourself. Various factors can contribute to a decline in self-esteem:

  • Abuse: Both physical and emotional abuse, whether in childhood or adulthood, can severely damage self-esteem. Negative relationships with parents or other significant figures are particularly impactful.
  • Mindset: A pessimistic and fixed mindset inundates your thoughts with negativity, making you believe you are not good enough or that positive outcomes are impossible.
  • Life Events: Challenging life events, such as failing a course, losing a job, or moving to a new city, can negatively affect your self-perception. Even positive changes can be stressful and impact self-esteem.
  • Social Standards: Society often places a high value on appearance and external validation. A survey of college freshmen found that 65% based their self-worth on their appearance. Such external pressures can cause self-esteem to fluctuate.
  • Setting Goals: While setting goals is beneficial, unattainable or unrealistic goals can lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy, further lowering self-esteem.

The Impact of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can have wide-ranging effects on your mental health. It can lead to persistent negative self-talk, making you overly critical of yourself. This can result in social isolation as you withdraw to protect your fragile self-esteem. Unfortunately, this isolation can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression.

People with low self-esteem might avoid challenges and new opportunities, staying within their comfort zones. This avoidance prevents growth and reinforces feelings of inadequacy. Over time, low self-esteem can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Negative thinking patterns hinder efforts to build a positive self-image and develop a growth mindset.

13 Ways on How to Feel Better About Yourself

overcoming low-self esteem how to feel better about yourself

Improving self-esteem involves both internal and external changes. Here are 13 things to boost your self-esteem and help you feel better about yourself:

1. Be Kind to Yourself

Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. When you make a mistake, instead of being overly critical, acknowledge that errors are a natural part of learning and growth. Celebrate your efforts and forgive yourself for your shortcomings. This approach fosters a positive mindset and helps in overcoming low self-esteem. Even if work is getting you down, sometimes it is wise to hand in your notice and look to broaden your horizons.

2. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative self-talk can significantly impact your self-esteem. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, question the validity of these thoughts. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support them or if they are just assumptions. Replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m not good enough,” remind yourself of your strengths and past successes. This shift in perspective is crucial for learning how to feel better about yourself.

3. Set Realistic Goals

set realistic goals to overcome low-self esteem

Setting realistic goals is essential for maintaining motivation and self-esteem. Break down larger, long-term goals into smaller, manageable steps. Each small achievement brings a sense of accomplishment and progress. For example, if your goal is to improve your fitness, start with achievable targets like walking 10 minutes a day, gradually increasing as you build confidence and stamina. This method helps prevent feelings of being overwhelmed and promotes a steady boost in self-esteem.

4. Avoid Comparisons

Comparing yourself to others, especially on social media, can damage your self-esteem. People often share an idealised version of their lives, which can make you feel inadequate. Limit your time on social media and focus on your unique strengths and achievements. Celebrate your individual uniqueness and the progress you make, regardless of how it measures up to others.

5. Build a Support Network

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who uplift and encourage you. Building a support network can provide a sense of belonging and affirmation. These relationships offer a buffer against negative self-perceptions and reinforce your sense of worth. Engage in social activities, join clubs or groups that interest you, and maintain regular contact with friends and family who have a positive influence on your life.

6. Practice Self-Care

practice self-care to overcome low-self esteem

Taking care of your physical and mental health is fundamental for improving self-esteem. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep contribute to overall well-being. Physical activity, in particular, releases endorphins, which boost your mood. Additionally, incorporating relaxation techniques like mindfulness and meditation can help manage stress and promote a positive self-image.

7. Engage in Talking Therapy

Professional therapy can be a valuable tool in addressing underlying issues affecting your self-esteem. Therapists can help you develop strategies to manage negative thoughts and build a healthier self-image. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), for example, focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours, making it an effective approach for improving self-esteem.

You can complete one of our online mental health courses to help yourself and others with mental health struggles

8. Celebrate Small Victories

Recognising and celebrating small achievements is important for maintaining motivation and self-esteem. No matter how minor they may seem, take time to acknowledge your successes. Whether it’s completing a task, learning something new, or simply getting through a challenging day, each small win contributes to a positive self-view and builds confidence.

9. Try New Things

Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new activities can significantly boost your confidence and self-esteem. New experiences challenge you to grow and adapt, proving to yourself that you are capable of more than you might have thought. This is why hobbies are important, including ones old and new.

10. Set Boundaries

Setting and maintaining personal boundaries is crucial for protecting your self-esteem. Clearly define what behaviours are acceptable and communicate these boundaries assertively; this will be the same across your family and friends. This practice prevents others from taking advantage of you and helps you maintain a sense of control and self-respect. In your professional life, for example, setting boundaries might involve turning off work notifications after hours to ensure a healthy work-life balance. In personal relationships, it means being honest about your needs and limits.

11. Recognise Positives

Recognising the positives in your life is essential for overcoming low self-esteem and learning how to feel better about yourself. Start by celebrating your successes, no matter how small. Whether it’s taking a walk or tidying up, every achievement deserves acknowledgment. Accept compliments graciously and save them for times when you’re feeling low. If you’re comfortable, ask friends and family what they appreciate about you—they might highlight qualities you hadn’t considered. Additionally, make a list of things you like about yourself, such as skills you’ve acquired or ways you help others. This practice can significantly boost your self-esteem.

12. Look After Yourself

look after yourself to overcome low self esteem

Self-care is a crucial component of maintaining and improving self-esteem. Ensure you get enough sleep, as sleep deprivation can negatively affect your mood. Pay attention to your diet, eating regularly to keep your blood sugar stable, which can improve your mood and energy levels. Regular physical activity is another excellent way to aid your mental well-being and self-esteem. 

Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, can also positively impact your mood. Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help you stay grounded and focused. Avoid recreational drugs and alcohol, as they can exacerbate negative feelings in the long run.

13. Let Go of Negative People

Surrounding yourself with positive influences is key to building and maintaining self-esteem. If certain people in your life consistently bring you down, it may be time to distance yourself from them. Negative people who highlight your flaws, mock your mistakes, or fill you with self-doubt can severely impact your self-esteem. Letting go of these toxic relationships can open up space for positive encouragement and support, allowing your self-esteem to grow.

Do you have a desire to help others to succeed? Try our life coaching diploma so that you can help others with their self esteem too!

Overcoming Low-Self Esteem Through Reflection

Overall, improving self-esteem needn’t be a hassle; in fact, it often involves being nice to yourself through self-compassion, challenging negative thoughts, setting realistic goals, avoiding comparisons, and self awareness. Knowing the impact that you can have on yourself as well as others can reshape your perspective on life, and to break the routine of life, trying new things can be a huge step towards making you feel better about yourself and reducing any negativity that surrounds you. 

Make sure to contact a samaritan, should you need further guidance.


Can therapy help improve self-esteem?

Yes, therapy can significantly help improve self-esteem by addressing underlying emotional issues and changing negative thought patterns.

What role does professional therapy play in boosting self-esteem?

Therapy offers tools and strategies to understand and manage feelings of inadequacy, boosting confidence and self-worth over time.

How does low self-esteem affect relationships?

Low self-esteem can lead to problems in relationships, including excessive dependency, lack of trust, and difficulties in communicating effectively.

What impact does low self-esteem have on personal and professional relationships?

It can cause misunderstandings, create conflicts, and may lead to one feeling undervalued or overlooked in both personal and professional settings.

How do you deal with low self-esteem at work?

Addressing low self-esteem at work involves setting realistic goals, seeking constructive feedback, and focusing on personal strengths and achievements. 


Samaritans (2019) Contact a Samaritan. [online] Available at: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/ [accessed 14/05/24]  

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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