Learning to nurture your self-esteem can help to hold back your critical self. Self-esteem is the internal model we have of ourselves. It is a factor in our interaction with our world. Low self-esteem has a significant impact on our mental health. It can reduce the quality of our life by affecting our confidence and our ability to make decisions. It is associated with anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. So can you work to improve your self-esteem?

Self esteemBy building your self-confidence you can live your life more completely, feel that you can tackle your dreams. Your problems seem easier to tackle. You find it easier to avoid unhelpful practices that self-sabotage your life and bring about an inner stability to your emotions.

Basic steps to nurture your self esteem

A first and important step is to take control of your inner critic. Our critical voice speaks when something goes wrong, it reaches for the big stick and starts to beat us with our faults. Yet, we need to learn to treat ourselves with compassion and care. Use stop words to stop the flow of criticism (try shouting “stop” in your head). Try to re-focus on positives and lessons learned from the experience. Notice that humans learn from our mistakes so if we are to grow, mistakes and errors are to be welcomed.

Manage your inner critic

We often hold ourselves to a higher standard, believing that others do not accept us unless we get everything right, everything perfect. Yet, often this perfectionism mind-set hurts rather than helps those around us.  They can feel that they never get things on time or that you are always pre-occupied. Often it is better to aim for “good enough”, an effort where we meet the requirements and improving if required.

Be realistic about mistakes. Often the environment and circumstances can have an impact on the outcome and if you have low self-esteem you can feel that you should have predicted these circumstances. Yet, you can’t take responsibility for them as they are not in your control. When things go wrong, often they are a way to learn and improve rather than looking for fault and criticising ourselves.

Notice your success

It is important to take time to appreciate ourselves. Notice the positives in our lives. The positive things that I do for myself and for others, the positive things that happen. Take time to notice the compliments that I am given and to acknowledge them. A useful practice is to take note of the positive things that happen in your life however small writing them down for review later. This often helps you balance your thought patterns when negative thoughts or events challenge your self-esteem on those days that you feel you are struggling.

We undermine our self-esteem when we compare our self to others. If you want to nurture your self esteem, it is worth noting that this is a comparison that you are unlikely to win, and often leads to anxiety and despair. There will always be someone who is better than or ahead of you. Work on acceptance of your own skills and values this feels better. It is better to compare yourself to the steps along your own journey. Notice how far you have come, notice the improvements. Notice the steps and goals that you would like to take next.

Nurture your self-esteem everyday with simple actions

Focusing on positive goals motivates us in a healthier way and nurtures your self esteem. We focus on the benefits and remind ourselves of why we want to do something. It can help if we take small steps and set small achievable goals rather than look at large monolithic goals. For example you might have decided to work on your weight and want to drop 2 dress sizes. If you set that as your goal it feels high-risk and perhaps unreachable. If you try to achieve it in a series of small goals you can see and achieve progress more quickly and more sustainably. You might set your first goal as identifying healthy meals I could have. It is something that it is easy to achieve and gives a sense of success.

In conclusion, when we want to build and nurture our self-esteem we are taking care of our self and getting better at setting the boundaries and rules with which we interact with the world. We get better at building positive relationships and avoid negative habits and relationships in our life. By having self-compassion, and realistic expectations our self-esteem can recover and grow.