Our self-esteem is directly linked to what we say to ourselves and the core beliefs we believe about ourselves. When we start paying attention to what we are saying and believing to be true, we can choose to turn up the positive and delete the negative. 

Building self-esteem is an ongoing process of being kind to ourselves while also acknowledging the aspects about our lives and selves that we want to improve. 

Self-esteem is connected to self-efficacy, which is the ability to think for ourselves, feel we have control over our lives, and believe that we can handle what life has in store for us. Self-esteem also involves having self-respect, which is how we value ourselves and what we believe we deserve.

The 10 foundational pillars of self-esteem

  1. Self-acceptance: There are no prerequisites to worthiness. Say to yourself, “I am who I am right now, and I accept it.”
  2. Self-talk: Start paying attention to what you’re saying to yourself, and if it’s overly negative, then it’s thoroughly unhelpful. Get out of your own way, you have the capacity to speak to yourself more positively. Start now.
  3. Core beliefs: What you believe to be true about yourself hugely influences your self-esteem. What core beliefs are unhelpful? (E.g. “I am not enough”). Start to challenge that core belief by looking for all the evidence you are enough.
  4. Take responsibly for your life: No one is coming to pave the way for you or make things better. Take responsibly for your life and needs. Your past has affected you, but it does not define you. Your pain is probably not your fault, yet your healing is your responsibility.
  5. Self-assertiveness: When you speak up for your wants, needs, and opinions, you send a message to your brain that your voice counts. Start validating your voice now.
  6. Live with intention & purpose: What is meaningful and important to you? What are your values? Live in a way that you light up by honouring your values.
  7. Live with integrity: Show up for yourself by fulfilling the intentions you make to yourself. Live in a way that you can trust and rely on yourself.
  8. Live consciously: Are you consciously aware of your thoughts and feelings? Do you feel you have control over them? Be the director of your own life. You are not your thoughts; you are the thinker of your thoughts. You are not your feelings; you are the experiencer of your feelings.
  9. Internal & external validation (2:1): It feels good to get external validation from others (e.g. appreciation, praise, compliments). Yet, healthy self-esteem needs a combination of 2 to 1, internal to external validation. Start validating yourself now.
  10. Challenge: We need challenge in our lives to grow and gain competence. Lean into challenge and learn from it.

Exercises to build self-esteem

1.  Reflection: What feeds my self-worth? What hurts my self-worth? Where does my self-worth come from? What messages do I tell myself about myself? What do I so deeply believe about myself?

2.  Find your anthem: Have a song that speaks to you, that makes you feel alive, that pumps you up or helps you connect with yourself. Say to yourself, “this is the anthem of my self-esteem.” Whenever you play your song, you feel more confident.

3.  I Am app: search for the app “I am” and download it onto your phone. This is a great resource to find some affirmations that really resonate with you. 

4.  Write down three things you are grateful for: Focusing on what you are grateful for amplifies positive emotions, such as joy, pride, and hope. Feeling these positive emotions boosts your self-esteem. Gratitude has also been correlated with personal growth, positive relationships, purpose in life, and living in the present moment. Here are some TED talks and videos on the power of gratitude. 

5.  Write down five things you like about yourself and five things you’re good at: By focusing on what you like about yourself and what you are good at, you create neural pathways in your brain that lead to automatic thoughts of positive self-worth.

6.  Text two people and tell them what you appreciate about them: Sometimes, a helpful way to boost your own confidence, is to help others feel confident.

7.  Share with a friend or family member one quality you appreciate about them and one quality you appreciate about yourself. Then switch roles and hear one quality your friend/family appreciates about you and one quality they appreciate about themselves.

8.  Do a random act of kindness: Kindness innately increases confidence.

9.  Give the smile-nod when you walk past people. This nonverbal communication acknowledges you see someone … and we all long to be acknowledged. Usually if you give a smile, you get a smile.

10. Go through your phone and pick three of your favourite photos: Print them off and tape them to your bathroom mirror so you can see them every morning/night and smile.

11. Make a learning bucket list of the things you want to learn in your lifetime: Every time you learn something new or do something that was a challenge, your confidence increases.

12. Do one thing that brings you joy each day: Be being mindful of bringing joy into your life, you increase your self-worth because you send a message to your brain that you are worthy of feeling good and being happy.

13. Keep a success list: You’ve had many successes in your life, yet it is hard to keep them front of mind. Sit down and write a list of all the success you’ve had (both small and large). After you write the list, take a minute to sit with it, take a few deep breaths, smile, and be proud of yourself. Add to your success list each time you feel success.

14. Read this article on self-esteem: article

If you or someone who know is struggling with self-esteem, please reach out!

Written by: Hadley Mitchell, R.Psych
Map Psychology Solutions
[email protected]
(587) 330-2999


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