#Wellbeing series: A guide to building your self-esteem

Build Yourself Up – A guide to building your self-esteem

Buzz Manchester Health & Wellbeing Service

Self-esteem is how we think and feel about ourselves. There are two parts to your self-esteem:

  • How much you like yourself
  • How skilled you feel.

Self-esteem changes throughout a person’s life and is affected by both positive and negative events that happen to a person and how well they can cope with them.

Healthy self-esteem is about being happy with yourself while understanding your strengths and faults while your view of yourself remains realistic.

Low self-esteem is when a person tends to focus more on their shortcomings and mistakes they might have made without recognising any positive characteristics in themselves. 

People with low self-esteem tend to have difficulty coping with everyday tasks and asking for help and have a higher risk of developing poor mental health and well-being. 

This is called a negative core belief- unhelpful thoughts that make you feel worse about yourself, affect your emotions and can lead to stress. This stress then turns into anxiety and depression, which create more negative thoughts,s and further lower your self-esteem, creating a vicious cycle. A person’s self-esteem will continue to suffer until this cycle is broken.


How to improve your self-esteem

  • Recognising the vicious cycle is the first step to breaking it – Think of any potential causes of these negative core beliefs and try to spot any patterns in your life that can indicate areas for improvement.


  • Facts vs opinion – Look at your negative thoughts about yourself and understand whether they are facts or just your opinion. When you feel low, it is easy to accept any negative thoughts as reality, but it is essential to think objectively because most of the time, you will find that it is not true.


  • Challenge unhelpful thinking – You can challenge these thoughts by thinking about the worst thing that can happen if your thoughts are true. Afterwards, think of any positives you might be missing from the picture and how else you can view the situation to expect the best outcome. Once you consider both sides, try to reassess the situation again. Most of the time, you will find s another explanation that calms your negative thoughts.


  • Build yourself up– Explore your positive side, strengths, talents and successes and how you use them in everyday life. Ask a friend or a colleague if you get stuck. Keep a journal through this activity. List all your positive tasks in the journal, choose one trait and list all the times you have used it in the past. Then write 3 things you did that day that showcase your positive traits. They do not have extraordinary achievements, even like “I smiled at my neighbour and wished him a happy day”. Make sure to set aside time each day dedicated to this activity to remind yourself of your positives and get your brain accustomed to recognising them quickly.


  • Be compassionate to yourself– It is very important to be good and not let negative thoughts prevent you from giving yourself kindness during difficult times. Accept that in moments of suffering, things may seem hopeless, but remember that bad times will pass. Use self-talk to acknowledge your emotions and use compassion in a soothing voice. If you are struggling, imagine you are talking to a friend, and you want to reassure them with words like “‘I am doing the best I can.”


  • Practice makes perfect – The journey to improving your self-esteem is slow and will take time. Still, it will become easier and easier once you introduce these positive techniques and repeat them. You might face some setbacks along the way, but it is crucial to persevere in moments like those. You can use setbacks as a learning experience that will make this process easier.

For the full guide, access: https://d1jw0l0b625fbx.cloudfront.net/docs/Build-Yourself-Up-December-2016.pdf

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