Improving Self-Esteem: 16 Tips That [Really] Work


Silas & Grace

Three different illustrations of negative things people say to themselves if they have low self-esteem.

Learning how to improve self-esteem is one of the best ways to change your entire life.

And especially since boosting your self-esteem can help you to:

  • Get rid of insecurities that have hurt your for years.
  • Heal from the unkind words and actions of others.
  • Feel relaxed and comfortable in your own skin.
  • Have the confidence to actually go after what YOU want in life.

It’s intimidating, but it’s ridiculously worth it!

Also, I just wanna say that I think it’s amazing you wanna do this.

A LOT of people just go through life on auto-pilot and never “feel” the right amount of motivation to heal and change their self-esteem.

But you’re here proactively choosing motivation and wanting to create a life you love.

I really think that’s beautiful!

So let’s get you started on understanding what self-esteem is, why it’s important, and what you can do to improve it! 🙂

Related: 99 Be Yourself Quotes to Show How Incredible You Are

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is how you see and feel about yourself and what you’re capable of.

It’s based on the beliefs you have about yourself and what you’re worth.

So if you have good self-esteem, you feel confident in your ability to navigate the small and big positive or negative changes and happenings in your life.

But if you have bad self-esteem, it can feel hard for you to believe in your self-worth or ability to take on challenges and changes. Or even your worthiness for good things when they come along!

Why Should You Pay Attention to It?

A journal open with a pen laying on top.

Listen to the way you’re talking about yourself and/or your situation.

Be mindful as you go about your day and see how you interact with others and certain events.

Are the thoughts or actions you’re having positive or negative?

If they’re negative, this could mean your self-esteem is low and there might also be something bigger going on.

Maybe you’re…

  • Not doing proper self-care.
  • You’re overworking yourself.
  • You’re hanging around someone who is bringing you down.
  • You’ve been thinking too much about hurtful people from your past.
  • Hurting from something that should be talked about with a therapist.

And when you’re being mindful of what’s going on, you can take the right actions to course correct and heal your mental health and self-esteem.

16 Ways to Give Your Self-Esteem a Boost

1. Bridge Statements Over Affirmations

Hand holding a sticky note saying, "Maybe I'm an ok person."

I know this sounds a bit confusing since I’ve written an entire blog post on positive affirmations you can use daily, but here’s what I mean.

While affirmations work for many people, sometimes it might be too hard to outright say a statement like, “I am powerful and in control of my emotions.”

A lot of the time, you’ve probably said horribly negative things about yourself for years, and a statement like that feels unbelievable.

So Kati Morton, a mental health professional, talks about bridge statements.

You’re saying statements that help bridge the gap between self-doubt and hate to self-love and acceptance.

Example: Instead of saying, “I’m amazing and I deserve every good thing,” try, “I’m not a completely horrible person.” I know, doesn’t sound SUPER positive, but it’s what you might need to start changing how you see yourself over time.

2. Create a List of Reasons Why You Like Yourself

A woman writing down notes at a desk.

There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Take 5-10 minutes and write out just 10 things you like about yourself. Then come back to these things each day and add to it. Or even ask people in your life what they like about you. It can be easy to oversee the good, so it’s important to be intentional about this if you want to improve your self image.
  2. At the end of each day, find at least 3 things you did well. What did you do that made you appreciate yourself? Then try reviewing this in the morning. This will help you to stop ignoring and overlooking your good qualities and build self-worth. And as your self-esteem grows, it might inspire you to act out those positive qualities more often.

3. Stop Thinking People See You a Certain Way

Two women talking at a cafe.

I talked about this more in my post on the habits of attractive women, but I also need to talk about it here.

When you first meet people, it can be easy to think that they see you the way that you see and feel about yourself.

But the truth is, this person doesn’t even know anything about you.

They don’t know all of your past mistakes, failures, insecurities, and the mean things others have said to you.

This person is neutral towards you and is probably very open to getting to know you.

So grow your self-esteem by being more comfortable with getting to know people and understanding that they don’t have a negative opinion about you.

4. Becoming the Person You Want to Be

A woman smiling and sitting on a couch.

People are always saying, “be yourself!”

And while that can be important, you might also want to try figuring out the kind of person you want to be.

This can be very helpful in changing your self-esteem and how you perceive yourself.

Good Example:

Around 10 years ago, I really struggled with social anxiety and the fear of messing up.

But then I asked myself, “What would the Facebook me do?”

The Facebook me was so much more outgoing, confident, funny, and comfortable in her own skin.

So I decided to intentionally take on her mindset… and it worked!

So Here’s What You Do:

  1. Take just 5 minutes (or less) to write down a thoughtful small list of the kind of person you want to be. Who do you want to become?
  2. Take note of the common traits you see.
  3. Start imagining yourself being this person. Visualize it.
  4. Find small ways to live it out. Is your friend having a gathering? Attend and start living out that identity. Or do you feel like a mess-up because of your past mistakes? Take proactive actions today to love your future self by healing and improving your life (in big and small ways).

5. Take Care of Your Mental Health

Hand holding a bowl of yogurt with toppings.

Taking care of you makes taking care of things like self-esteem so much easier.

Case and point, last year I suffered from extreme anxiety and overthinking. It felt like an endless battle trying to take control of my thoughts and emotions.

You know what was causing a lot of my problems?

I was on a prolonged calorie deficit, barely getting out of the house, had a horrible sleep schedule, and not taking in enough nutrients.

And when I started changing things, I suddenly felt so much more at peace and I stopped overthinking.

Doing proper self-care isn’t a cure-all, but it can make it so much easier to work on problems like self image.

Here Are Just a Few Ways You Can Practice Self-Care:

  • Hydration: Make sure you’re getting enough water each day.
  • Eating Nutrient-Rich Meals: Do some meal planning and try incorporating enough recipes that will take care of your health.
  • Be Careful with Calorie Deficits: I’m gonna be honest, I’d say don’t do calorie deficits if you see your anxiety spiking. Instead, try eating three healthy meals a day. Side Note: Also first talk to your doctor before doing any calorie deficits!
  • Get Out of the House: Pair the three healthy meals with getting out of the house and being more active. Getting out is a great way to take care of your mental health and of course, lose weight.
  • Schedule Time for Hangouts: Make time to meet up with friends. Staying inside your head all the time is going to stress you out so much. So try creating a regular schedule for hanging out with people.
  • Make a List of Small Activities That Make You Happy: This could be something as small as making a cup of coffee and reading a book or having a picnic with a good friend.
  • Start Building Routines: I’ve found that when I followed a routine, I felt so much more in control of my life and happier.
  • Low-Impact Workouts: Working out is great for your mental health, but a study showed that high-intensity workouts can increase cortisol levels which can of course affect your mental health. So try doing some low-impact workouts like pilates.
  • Gratitude journaling: Keeping your mind on the positive in your life is going to give you such a good mental health and self-esteem boost!

Related: 5 Simple Self-Care Ideas I Think You Should Do this Week

6. Forget About the People Who Have Hurt You

A woman writing in a journal at a desk.

While you’re thinking about them, they’re not even thinking about you. While you’re believing the bad statements they’ve made about you, they forgot what they even said.

It’s so important to remember this every time you give the people from your past power over your self-perception.

So Here’s What You Can Do:

  1. Take some time to journal out the negative beliefs you have about yourself.
  2. Next, ask yourself how many of these beliefs came from another person, or how many of them stemmed from something mean that was said to you.

Now you can start understanding how much of how you see yourself isn’t coming from you. It’s coming from the people who were bad to you.

They didn’t deserve you and they certainly don’t deserve to have control over how you see yourself.

So start replacing those beliefs with positive ones that are going to help you grow and heal.

And get people in your life that are going to help you in that process!

7. Curate Your Digital World

A hand holding an iPhone that's opened to Instagram.

If you’re finding yourself feeling uncomfortable and frustrated with yourself because of what you’re seeing on social media, then it might be time to change things up.

Start carefully curating your social media feeds with people who are uplifting and encouraging.

People who are going to help your self-esteem by the kind messages they give, and those who are living out the life you’re working towards.

Here Are a Few Good Pages for You to Check Out:

8. Get Comfortable With Compliments

Closeup of a sticky note saying, "You're doing amazing!"

Guy Winch, a licensed psychologist, gave a quick tip for this one.

If you’re someone who gets uncomfortable with compliments (like me), then come prepared with a simple set response.

Basically you’re training yoruself to use them automatically whenever you get positive feedback.

And eventually, you might just start seeing your inclination to reject kindness and compliments leave, which can be a sign of a healing self-esteem.

Example of a Quick + Simple Set Response: “That’s so kind of you, thanks!”

9. Stop Comparing Your Beginning to Someone’s Middle

A book opened up to show an uplifting message.

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle, or your middle to someone else’s end. Don’t compare the start of your second quarter of life to someone else’s third quarter.”

Jon Acuff

I’m guilty of this.

But it really is easy to do! You see someone who’s living the life you want or accomplished that goal you put off two years ago.

And then you start feeling like a failure.

But here are two things you need to know:

  1. You’re not a failure, you can start now and see yourself in their place in the future.
  2. Don’t compare your beginning to their middle. In other words, you don’t know how many years it took them to actually work up the courage to go after that goal (and then additional years to see results). It makes no sense to judge yourself for being at the start when the person is further along than you.

10. Be Kind With What You Say to Yourself

A sign saying, "Kindness matters."

I’ve struggled with self-hate since I was a kid.

I always felt like I was a mess up.

But something that suddenly helped me was this:

I started to visualize me saying these unkind words to my child self.

I was quickly racked with guilt. The idea of saying the things I say to my current self to an innocent child helped to change my perspective.

If she didn’t deserve that hate and mistreatment, then neither do I right now.

Side Note: Also, think about how you’d help a kid improve themselves in general. Would you discourage them or hate them if they made a mistake? Nope. You’d probably encourage them and show them how to do it better!

11. Celebrate Your Successes

A woman sitting on a window sill with a mug in her hands.

I don’t care how small your wins are, you need to celebrate them anyway!

My husband started pointing this out to me.

I would get so discouraged when I wasn’t seeing the progress I wanted, but I was completely ignoring the small wins throughout the week.

And I promise you that when you start celebrating your small wins, it’s going to do two things:

  1. It’s going to help remind you that you’re not a “failure” or falling behind, you really are moving forward.
  2. It’s going to motivate you to keep going and get excited for more progress and results.

12. Let Go of the Toxic People

Two women holding their hands together.

You know that friend who can be nice but says low-key uncalled-for cutting remarks?

Yeah, you don’t have time for them.

Get rid of them immediately.

And I don’t care if you’re scared of losing the connection or not being able to make new friends.

Here’s Why:

  1. You are worth so much more than to keep people who diminish the enjoyment you get out of life and ruin your self-esteem.
  2. You CAN make new friends as an adult. I promise you, it’s not as hard as you think.

And if you’re still nervous, then here are two resources that are gonna help you out. 🙂

  1. 19 (ACTUALLY Helpful) Ways to Make Friends as an Adult
  2. 21 Qualities of a Good Friend You Need to Know (If You’re Tired of Toxicity) + 7 to Run From

13. Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Two women hugging each other.

Alright, now once you get rid of those waste-of-time “friends,” it’s time to find people who are going to encourage you.

So you know that person who was super kind to you a year ago, but you didn’t invest the time in getting to know them better? Reach out and set a time for a meetup!

Got a coworker who seems pretty nice? Set up a coffee date.

Have a sibling, parent, or cousin that’s always lifting you up? Spend more time with them.

It’s essential that you’re doing whatever you can to help your self-confidence and self-belief, and creating a support system that’s gonna help you heal and grow at a much faster pace is an amazing way to do that.

14. Know That It’s Ok to Say No

A sticky note that reads, "You matter!"

It is ok to say no and when you do this, you help your self-esteem by showing yourself that your needs and desires matter.

You’re not relying on others for acceptance and are worried that you’ll be rejected.

Also, it helps you to not tie your self-worth into helping others and whether you’re doing enough.

It’s ok to help others, but it’s not ok to attach your self-esteem and self-worth to helpful actions that overwhelm you.

15. Start to Be Assertive in Small Ways

Two women sitting on a couch and talking.

Start setting boundaries in your relationships, even if it’s in small ways at first!

When you start small with this, it’ll help you slowly start to see that you have value.

You’ll start seeing that you matter and you’re worth taking care of.

You’re worth not being taken advantage of, so be honest with the people in your life and let them know if you’re not ok with something.

16. Set a Small Goal

A woman writing in her journal.

If doing big actions to improve your self-esteem feels too intimidating, then you can start finding small ways to progress.

And remember, small is important. If you set goals that are too big for you to accomplish now, your self-esteem is gonna take a hit.

Side Note 1: And don’t be too hard on yourself! Small progress = big progress later on!

Side Note 2: If you wanna create goals that actually stick, you might wanna read here on creating goals you’ll actually hit.

Here Are a Few Ideas for Goals You Can Set to Improve Your Self-Esteem:

  • One New Mindset: Find one new simple + positive mindset to take on for one week, and apply it as much as you can to your thinking and actions. See how things change in you and try journaling about it. Example: The mindset could be putting the focus on other people and making them feel comfortable in the conversation, instead of the discomfort you feel.
  • Find One Thing That’ll Get You Closer: Join an online or in-person class that will help you move towards a goal or dream you have. Finding small ways to get closer to something you want in life is a great way to change how you see yourself!
  • Try Making Peace With Failure: Again, you don’t have to be perfect with this, but for the times you fail, have some grace on yourself. Everyone fails and you don’t need to say unkind things to yourself when it happens. Instead, try saying something like, “I failed, but I’m not a failure. I’ll just find a new way to do better.”
  • Find One Person That’ll Help You in Your Growth: Think through the people you know and find someone who will encourage you in your self-esteem. Then start scheduling regular times to hang out with them.
  • Self-Care: Start doing at least one thing each day that’s going to help your mental health. Mental health is so important when it comes to helping your self-esteem.

Improving Self-Esteem FAQ

A woman smiling and laying on a couch.
What is the Root Cause of Low Self-Esteem?

Some of the root causes for low self-esteem might be family members who did and said unkind things to you, people at school who also said and did things that hurt your self-esteem, or you might have had past failures that led you to feel like you were a failure.

Can You Improve Self-Esteem?

Definitely! I know that it might feel impossible at times, but I promise you that with just a bit of consistent work, you’ll see a boost. You just need to give it time.

How Long Does it Take to Fix Self-Esteem?

This can be dependent on the person and how much work they’re willing to put into it. Or it can depend on how badly the person was hurt in the past. But if it does take you a while, then don’t get discouraged! What’s important is that you’re on the journey to healing and you’re gonna get there!

Learning how to improve your self-image is such a beautiful thing.

When your self-esteem and image start to heal, you start to see yourself in such a different light.

You’re not someone who’s “constantly messing up,” but someone who’s figuring things out and growing stronger every day.

You’ve got what it takes to improve your self-esteem, I promise!

So go through the tips above and see how they start changing your life this year.

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Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

Health Leveling Up Your Lifestyle Wellness

Silas & Grace

Chasing Foxes was started in 2016 as a way for Grace and her husband, Silas, to start traveling. However, they started to realize that they had a passion for improving themselves, and wanted to help others level up their lives as well. So whether it's with cooking, travel, or staying healthy, they want to help you better your life bit by bit, as they do the same.

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