7 practices to build healthy self-esteem

7 practices to build healthy self-esteem

“Why should we worry about what others think of us – do we have more confidence in their opinions than we do our own?”

– Brigham Young

When you think about the subject of self-esteem, it is a good question to ask yourself. Here are some others:

Whose opinion about yourself and your life do you value more – Your own or others’? 

Do you tend to be more depending on the views of others or do you have your own inner voice that you trust? 

Do you have an unwavering certainty in who you are and in the value you bring into this world? 

The right amount of self-esteem is certainly a useful quality to have. Low self-esteem can make you feel depressed and hopeless about your life. When your self-esteem is too high, you might become too self-confident and you might overestimate yourself. 

In extreme cases, it may lead to a narcissistic personality disorder where you put so much value on yourself that you become completely indifferent to what others say and feel.

What is self-esteem and why is it important?

In short, self-esteem is about the way you see yourself and your self-worth. As you can imagine, self-worth and self-respect have a direct impact on your personal and professional life. 

Healthy self-esteem will help you be confident and motivated to work towards your goals. You will know what your worth is and you won’t give up when you stumble upon obstacles or failures. You will know that these failures are just lessons to be learned.

Low self-esteem might make you completely paralyzed in life. You might not even bother trying to go towards your dreams. And even if you do take the first steps, you might give up the moment you come across any failures as they will support this hidden narrative in your mind that you are not good enough or not worth success and happiness. 

Signs of healthy self-esteem

How do you know if you have healthy self-esteem then? People with the right amount of self-esteem exhibit the following signs:

  • Confidence
  • Positive mindset
  • Ability to say no
  • Acceptance towards themselves
  • Ability to see failure as feedback
  • Accountability for what they say and do
  • Forgiveness and the ability to move on from the past

Signs of low self-esteem

Low self-esteem isn’t the same for everyone but there are several signs that usually indicate that a person has low self-esteem. These are some of the signs that might indicate that you or someone you know might have low self-esteem: 

  • Self-criticism
  • Judgmentalism
  • Inability to say no
  • Sensitivity to criticism and feedback
  • Social withdrawal
  • Worrying about what others think
  • Lack of belief that they will achieve success in life
  • The feeling of anxiety and depression

Since your self-esteem is your perception of yourself, it’s within your power to change it. You can always modify your thoughts and habits so that gradually you start feeling better about yourself and your life.

Here are a few strategies that will help you build healthy self-esteem. 

1. Set small goals

If you feel really down and helpless, there won’t be much sense in setting any big goals at the moment as at this stage you most probably lack confidence that you can achieve them. 

Start rebuilding your self-esteem by setting small and easily achievable goals and then celebrate your achievements. Every time you set a goal and reach it will make you respect yourself more and more. And that’s what it is all about, rebuilding your respect for yourself.

2. Start a journal with your accomplishments

Once you are back on track with your goals (even the small ones), start writing down every single accomplishment that you have. Keeping such a journal will make you notice the progress that you are making and it will appreciate even the smallest wins.

If you are not sure what to start with, here are some suggestions: 

What achievements are you most proud of?

How do you feel about yourself when you think of them?

What is the biggest obstacle that you have overcome in your life?

3. Challenge your inner critic

Whenever you feel like your inner bully is about to attack you again, take a piece of paper and write down all the words of self-criticism and self-doubt that are coming to your mind. When you finish, look at what you’ve written. Is it something that you would say to a good friend? If not, rewrite what you’ve written in a way that is compassionate and kind. 

Read these new sentences every day until they become your new self-talk.

4. Forget about perfectionism

Perfectionism will entirely crush your self-esteem. As Anne Lamott writes in her book “Bird by Bird”,

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. The enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life…”

How perfectionism influences your self-esteem

  • You tend to set unrealistic expectations and deadlines for yourself and you never reach them which makes you feel even worse about yourself and your self-worth.
  • You are very critical of others because you are very critical of yourself. It may not only ruin your self-esteem but it may also ruin your relationships.
  • You have mastered the art of procrastination to… perfection. Since you never feel entirely ready to take action (because you still haven’t reached this utopian notion of perfectionism), you tend to procrastinate a lot. You probably start doing whatever you need to be doing only when stress becomes more painful than the idea that you might fail.

    Procrastination equals a lot of stress. Stress is not your good friend. It won’t support you in doing your best in a given task or project. That is quite ironic as perfectionism is all about the drive to succeed in the best possible way. 
  • You struggle to ask for help. Not only that. You struggle to simply connect to others. Perfectionism is like an armour that you carry with you. You cannot truly connect to others as you are extremely scared of failure and rejection. You can only imagine what it does to your self-worth and self-esteem.

You put a lot of pressure on yourself to know everything and to do everything on your own. Asking for help is out of the question as it might show your weakness and vulnerability. It might show you the truth that you are not perfect and you never will. Just like the rest of us.

But once you come to terms that our imperfections are totally fine. You will find it much easier to connect to others and your life journey will seem to be far less lonely and scary.

  • You get very defensive when someone criticises you. You take everything personally and then you beat yourself up how you can be such a loser or why you didn’t do a better job at something. Defensiveness essentially is a sign of low self-esteem.
  • You are NEVER satisfied with yourself and what you have achieved in life. You are unable to celebrate your wins and achievements. There is always something that you could have done better. There is always something you could have said differently. There is always something that is wrong with you. You live in this vicious cycle of “what ifs”.  Therefore you always end up questioning your self-worth.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

When you compare yourself to others to inspire your own personal growth, there is nothing wrong with this. It is actually a good motivator to keep you going on this journey to be the person you want to be. 

Unfortunately, your brain has a tendency to focus more on the negative aspects and the lack that you might be experiencing. This phenomenon is called negativity bias. This quality of the brain makes you distort your perception of yourself and your life which leads to lower self-esteem.   

6. Practise self-love 

Self-acceptance and self-love are the core qualities to develop if you want to improve your sense of worth and increase your self-esteem. 

In one of my earlier articles, I shared eight simple practices to develop more self-love. You can check that out here.

You can also watch my video about developing more self-love here.

7. Create your own positive affirmations

If you suffer from low self-esteem, one of the best ways of changing your perception of yourself is using affirmations. 

Affirmations are words we repeatedly say to ourselves, either out loud or in our thoughts. Thanks to your Reticular Activating System which is a part of your brain, these words that you repeat regularly will gradually become a part of your belief system and your identity. 

That’s why it is extremely important to monitor what inner talk is going on in your mind. What affirmations are you creating in your mind? Do they empower you or do they make you weaker?

You need to realise that every thought you think and every word you say has the power to increase your self-worth and self-esteem or to make them lower. 

Affirmations work best when you are engaged emotionally in what you say to yourself, that’s why it is best to write your own affirmations. 

If you don’t know where to start or you are not sure how to do it, I strongly recommend that you listen to Louise L. Hay’s videos with affirmations. In her teachings, Louise talked a lot about self-love and how to reprogram your subconscious mind so that you enjoy mental and physical well-being.

Here is one of her audios with beautiful affirmations that will help you boost your self-esteem and reprogram your mind.


Accepting yourself for the unique, imperfect individual that you are, will gradually get you unstuck from this rut of low self-esteem. Reprogramming the subconscious mind is not an easy or fast process but it is the most rewarding one. 

Celebrate every victory that you have. Every little achievement will increase your momentum on this path to more self-esteem and self-love. 

Remember that if you get stuck, there are therapists, healers and coaches who might help you get back on track. In the end, asking for help is one of the things to learn on this journey towards this version of you that will be able to manifest the life that you want and deserve.