Do you experience feelings of low self-esteem? What does self-esteem actually mean? What are the symptoms? And, how exactly, do we overcome low self-esteem? Firstly, self-esteem simply refers to how you feel about yourself from the inside out.
As a teenager, low self-esteem symptoms can come from many causes. Some of the more common can occur from adjusting to the physical changes in your body as you develop. Others to facing mental and emotional challenges at home, school, or work. Many teens experience feelings of low self-esteem. And, it can happen to anyone. Even great musicians.
I didn’t have high self-esteem when I was a teenager, as I think most teenagers don’t.
We’ve All Experienced Low Self-Esteem
The years of being a teen are often defined as a time of “finding yourself”. It’s, therefore, completely normal during these years to have ups and downs around how you feel about your self-image.
For example, do you feel self-conscious about how you look physically, your body shape or body weight? Do you experience feelings of anxiety because you believe in some way that you’re not good enough at school? That you don’t ‘measure up’ to others? Or even that you feel undervalued in the relationships with your friends, family, girlfriend, boyfriend, or even your teachers?
Do you feel your friends don’t give you the respect you think you deserve? Do you feel your parents don’t communicate with you as much as you would like them to? Is the relationship with your girlfriend or boyfriend negatively affecting your attitudes and behaviors? Do you feel disempowered by your teachers?
Did you answer “Yes” to any of the above? If so, then, these can be leading causes that can bring upon feelings of low self-esteem. The positive side is, there are ways you can overcome these symptoms and increase your self-esteem.
The point is, the level of your self-esteem is largely influenced by your outer circumstances. Despite the external forces, there are, however, ways you can increase self-esteem that comes from a deeper place within you. Expert psychotherapist on self-esteem Nathaniel Branden, states that;
Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves.
How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem
So how can you acquire a positive reputation about yourself that increases your own self-esteem? By learning to cultivate self-esteem internally, at a deep level within yourself. Cultivating self-esteem is one of the most effective ways to overcome low self-esteem. It enables you to become less affected by the inevitable ebbs and flows of life. And, it helps you to feel good, or, at least, satisfied, with yourself even in the face of life’s challenges.
Cultivating self-esteem, within yourself, means having the ability to build personal resilience to help shield off negative forces that might influence how you feel about yourself and how you experience the world around you, enabling you to become less susceptible to such influences and be in more control.
Below you will learn six
effective tips that will help you to increase your self-esteem so you can enjoy your teenage years more and keep your self-image strong as you enter adulthood.
1. Connect With Your Own Uniqueness
There has never been someone like you and there never will be again. Sure, one day you might coincidentally come across your doppelganger but that person won’t be exactly like you. Even if you have a twin, you are each unique people with distinct thoughts, hopes, dreams, and experiences.
Self-love and self-compassion are two cornerstones of a healthy self-image, allowing you to radiate your own value regardless of outside circumstances. In an article published on psychcentral.com titled “How Self-Compassion Builds a More Positive Body Image Than Self-Esteem”, a study revealed that students who had strong self-compassion had a more positive body image and were found to be better at handling life in general.
One way to effectively connect with and realize your own self-compassion is to write down a list of all the things you love, like, and appreciate about yourself. For each of the 3 sentences, think about what type of skills, talents, abilities, and attributes you possess or what kind of physical, mental, emotional, social, or spiritual aspects that you love, like and appreciate about yourself.
For example, it could be that you love that you always stand up for what you believe in, you like that you are always optimistic and try to find the positive in everything, and you appreciate that you are always looking for ways to better yourself.
Start with Self-Reflection
Take a few moments now, to think about and finish the 2 sentences below and to come up with 1 or 2 things you love, like, and appreciate about yourself.
- I love that I’m …
- I like that I’m …
Spending time reflecting on who you are each day can help with building self-awareness and self-esteem from your core. Remember, you are here for a purpose, even if you aren’t aware of what that is yet. So, keep the list you’ve just made and review it daily for at least the next 10 days.
Review it before you go to sleep at night or before you get out of bed in the morning. When new things come to mind, feel free to add these to your list too. If you commit to doing this for 10 days you will find you will:
- Likely end up with a longer list than you started with,
- Discover more about your unique self, and
- Be more positive about who you are as an individual.
If you commit to this daily action, you will be cultivating self-love, self-compassion, and a more positive mood which will change your self-image and improve how you experience each and every day.
But don’t just take it from me. As famous musician Gloria Gaynor once said:
Self-esteem comes from what you think of you, not what other people think of you.
2. Find Your Passions and Interests
Whether it’s art, music, sports, literature, or technology, our passions and interests help us to feel more connected and engaged with ourselves and the world. Building proficiency with a talent or passion also naturally helps to overcome low self-esteem.
Take the time to connect with passions and interests that bring you happiness, fulfillment, and autonomy. Have a think about it. What do you love to do most? For example, are you a creative person? What type of creative things are you passionate about? Or what kind of creative things are you particularly interested in? Do you like to play or watch sports (even both)? What sports are you passionate about? Or what sports are you interested in? Try answering these by completing the two sentences below.
- I’m passionate about …
- I’m interested in …
Discovering your passions, interests, and natural talents and spending time each week pursuing them can help to overcome low self-esteem within yourself. Do whatever you can to support your passions and interests. For example, join a relevant extracurricular activity at school or find a relevant community group that is aligned with what you’re passionate about or interested in.
Chances are, once you get involved with these types of activities and surround yourself with like-minded people, your self-esteem will grow and you will and have an increased chance of meeting new friends who share your interests.
To discover what your passions and interests are, make it a priority. The more you become involved in your passions and interests and find success in your pursuits the more you will overcome low self-esteem. Jack Canfield, author and motivational speaker agrees and suggests:
Greater self-esteem produces greater success,
and greater success produces more high self-esteem,
so it keeps on spiraling up.
3. Invest Time in Your Health and Well-Being
Another antidote to overcome low self-esteem is making strides toward better health and well-being. Engaging in some sort of physical activity such as exercising regularly can do absolute wonders for not only your physical health but also your mental, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.
Sports, regular exercise, and increasing strength help to build confidence, self-assurance, and improved well-being. All good antidotes to overcome low self-esteem. If you aren’t exercising regularly, start at least walking or jogging a few days a week. Join a gym, start playing a sport, or get involved with some sort of physical activity that calls to you. Whatever it might be, make sure it gets your heart pumping and your oxygen flowing.
Secondly, improve your nutrition. If you haven’t been eating healthy, make the decision to have more nutritious foods on a regular basis throughout the week. While it may seem like a good idea at the time remember, indulging in too much junk food can lead to ill health eventually causing problems to your digestive and central nervous systems which can affect how you feel mentally and emotionally.
Ultimately, it’s about making healthy choices. So the next time you find yourself at a party, will you decide to reach for the rich chocolate cake or will you go for the fresh fruit?
Plenty of H20
Drinking plenty of water each day and getting in at least seven hours of sleep each night is also a must. If you commit to investing the time needed to improve your health and well-being on a regular basis, you will be supporting the building blocks critical to cultivating a strong sense of self-esteem.
Bonus tip: In addition to improving your health and well-being, spend a time on your image and fashion sense as well so that your outside conveys confidence and self-esteem and reflects the things you value about yourself on the inside.
While looks and superficial concerns aren’t everything, they can certainly help with self-expression and knowing that the image you convey on the outside matches the positive self-esteem you are cultivating on the inside. It may take some time but don’t be afraid to try different looks, hairstyles, and clothing until you find the perfect fit that matches you as an individual.
4. Speak Up to Be Heard
When we are little children, our parents and other caregivers are our main sources of self-esteem. Being treated with love, care, and respect helps to create a foundation and central core of good feelings about ourselves that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, parents are sometimes busy and stressed out themselves and don’t always meet these needs for their children.
Do you feel as though your parents are “on your team”? Do they communicate with you as much as you would like them to? Are you getting the love and respect you need from them? If not, it’s time to speak up and express how you feel.
While it may seem difficult to take the first step, leaving it for another day won’t make it easier. Don’t wait for a “good time” to voice your concerns or opinions. Just speak up and make sure that you are heard.
In many cases, parents are simply not aware of how you are experiencing them. After all, they are human too. Express yourself to teachers, peers, and anyone else in your life whom you feel is not treating you with the proper respect and consideration.
If you feel the need, seek support from extended family members, a pastor, guidance counselor, or a trusted teacher as you learn to speak up for yourself. If anyone you talk with refuses to change, it’s time to set a boundary and minimize your interactions with them.
5. Dissolve Disempowering Relationships
Don’t be afraid of disassociating or dissolving a relationship you have with a friend, peer, partner, or colleague that doesn’t treat you with the proper respect and consideration you think you deserve. Keeping these people in your life won’t do your self-esteem any good. The sooner you can learn from the relationship and move on, the better.
Setting Off for Different Pastures
I’ve been through an experience in my own life where I made the decision to dissociate myself and dissolve a relationship with a friend I had for almost 10 years. It wasn’t until the last few years, that I began to realize we were both moving in opposite directions and viewed things a lot differently.
During those years, I was focused on building up my career, owning a home, and getting married. Within a few short years, after a few promotions, I landed a great job with a corporate telecommunications company which excelled my career, my girlfriend and I (now married) moved out of a small one-bedroom rental apartment and bought our first home together. Soon after we moved in, we committed to adopting a guide dog. A beautiful black female labrador, from the Blind Foundation to help socialize and train to become much-needed support for blind people. Then, not long after, my wife and I got married. Then, soon after, we traveled together through Europe.
The Places I Left Behind
My friend, on the other hand, was struggling to find a job but also wasn’t trying very hard. He still lived at home, hadn’t dated anyone for a long time (as far as I know), but most of all didn’t seem to have any drive to be progressive and aspire to become or doing anything great or meaningful. Instead, it seemed he was more interested in flaunting himself in any social opportunity he could find himself in. The sad part about it is, not only do I think he was covering up for his own lack of self-esteem but he probably wasn’t even aware it either.
I’ve moved on from those days and while I think back from time to time, given the opposite trajectories we were on, eventually it was bound to happen. Truth is, it’s part of life, people will come and go but the ones who really care are the ones you’ll want to keep around forever.
Do What’s Best for You
Remember, the people you choose to have around you can have a significant effect towards how you feel about yourself and, therefore, your self-esteem. So choose wisely the people, or ‘the crowd’ as Nancy Brown, Ph.D. terms in an article published by pamf.org, you want to have around you. Don’t be afraid to let go of the relationships that don’t serve you well.
6. Connect With Real Friends and Supporters
Loving, positive and genuine connections with other people are a fast track to higher self-esteem. Find ways to spend time with people who think and make you feel wonderful and amazing, and your self-esteem will rise quickly. You have a right to be treated well by others. We all do. So, if your current “friends” are not supporting and uplifting you, it’s time to look for others.
Use your intuition and instincts to connect with true friends who will always have your back. Find like-minded people with similar interests as you and who pursue your passions and interests. And seek support from a relative, friend, or a trusted counselor if you need additional guidance with the people in your life.
Credit to Dr. Seuss for the following quote, which I think summarizes the importance of connecting with the right people nicely and is worth remembering. A long time ago, I left a job selling gym memberships. The day I left, I received a card which pre-written on the inside read:
Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind.
See also: How to Be More Self-Confident and Build Self-Esteem.
Get the Most out of Life
Low self-esteem can make school and life, in general, more difficult. Conversely, a healthy and positive sense of self-esteem allows us to get the most out of life. Use these six tips anytime you feel you need to overcome low self-esteem and you’ll build yourself back up in no time.
Remember the six tips are:
- Connect with your own uniqueness: Identify the things you love, like, and appreciate about yourself.
- Find your passions and interests: Discover what you are passionate about and what you are interested in.
- Invest time in your health and well-being: Aim to engage regularly in physical activity, improving your nutrition, drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep, and stepping up your image.
- Speak up to be heard: Reach out to your family, express your thoughts and how you feel. If others don’t seem to care, then don’t be afraid to dissociate yourself and move on from that relationship.
- Dissolve Disempowering Relationships: If it’s finally time to detach yourself from relationships that don’t serve you well, don’t be afraid to make the first step. When you do, continue forward and don’t look back. Just know that you’ll be making room for people you do want in your life.
- Connect with real friends and supporters: Learn to choose your friends wisely and be around like-minded people who share the same interests and values.
Put the six tips above into practice for at least the next 10 days and not only will you begin to master how to overcome low self-esteem but you will also create a strong foundation for a happy and fulfilling life.