How to improve your self-esteem?

Published 29 Oct 2022 • By Candice Salomé

Self-esteem is the way we look at ourselves and appreciate our own value. Having a good self-esteem makes it easier to face life's obstacles.

But what is self-esteem? Where does it come from? How useful is it? How can it be improved?

We explain it all in our article!

How to improve your self-esteem?

To improve one's self-esteem, it is important to understand what it really is. The concept of self-esteem is often confused with that of self-confidence. Both are frequently mentioned in personal development work, but they are different even though they are related.

What is self-esteem? 

In psychology, self-esteem is the way in which an individual evaluates his or her overall personal value. It corresponds to the way in which we view ourselves.

Self-confidence is a component of self-esteem. This notion refers to an individual's ability to feel capable of succeeding, to their belief in themselves or their skills.

Conversely, when we lack self-confidence, we do not feel capable of achieving certain things.

In fact, the more self-confidence we have, the stronger is our self-esteem. Everything is linked, but confidence and esteem are not the same thing.

There are two other components of self-esteem: self-respect and evaluation of one's qualities and defects as well as one's strengths and weaknesses.

Thus, self-esteem is a very personal issue, which exists independently of the way others see us and which can change over time. It encompasses different aspects:

  • The behavioural aspect: our actions depend a lot on our level of self-esteem.
  • The cognitive aspect: thoughts, reflections and reasoning we have about ourselves.
  • The affective aspect: self-esteem influences our emotions.

Self-esteem can be assessed according to two criteria:

  • Level of self-esteem: too high a self-esteem make an individual overestimate themselves and feel superior to others. Low self-esteem will lead an individual to underestimate themselves. Only a correct self-esteem allows one to be assertive ("ability to express oneself and defend one's rights without infringing on those of others"),
  • Stability, which represents the ability to maintain an emotional balance independently of outside events or of what others may think.

Where does self-esteem come from?

An individual's life experiences greatly influence their self-esteem. Early life experiences (childhood) have the greatest impact on the development of self-esteem.

Indeed, the way parents look at a young child, as well as the way important people look at him/her, form the basis of self-esteem. In addition, school results, success in artistic activities or sports, influence self-perception.

Repeated criticism, bullying, physical, moral or sexual abuse, being ignored, etc. contribute to the establishment but also to the maintenance of low self-esteem. Conversely, affection, recognition of success, encouragement, etc., promote the development of a positive self-image and a healthy self-esteem.

A healthy self-esteem allows :

  • To respect oneself and to be respected because it is easier to assert oneself,
  • To facilitate interpersonal relationships as the individual does not feel superior or inferior to others,
  • To persevere and to find solutions in order to achieve success and face adversity,
  • To notice and accept one's qualities and defects, strengths and weaknesses,
  • Not to collapse at the slightest mistake.  

What can be the impact of low self-esteem on our daily life?

Low self-esteem usually leads to acute perfectionism and high expectations of oneself. Thus, an individual with a low self-esteem tends to:

  • Develop attitudes or behaviours that will allow them to hide their low self-esteem from others,
  • Be afraid of taking risks and/or of being rejected,
  • Develop a strong anxiety linked to the fear of failure,
  • Develop jealousy or envy,
  • Develop a sense of not deserving love from those around them,
  • Frequently compare themselves to others,
  • Have difficulty letting themselves be loved because they lack self-love.

But self-esteem is not static, it changes with experience and can even be improved.

How to improve your self-esteem? 

Take action 

As we have already mentioned previously, self-esteem depends on self-confidence, which in turn depends on action, since it is a question of being "capable". 

Challenge yourself on a daily basis! You can speak out during a meeting at work, you can contact the person you like in order to start a new relationship, you can manage to cook that complicated recipe from a French cookbook, you can say "no" to someone who insists, etc. Little by little, you will gain pride and recognition. So dare to leave your comfort zone, but do it gently.

Learn to be assertive (and to listen to yourself) 

Self-respect is an integral part of self-esteem. The more we respect ourselves, the more we love ourselves and the more we love ourselves, the more we respect ourselves.

To implement this rule in real life, think about your needs, your expectations, your pleasure and your stress level. Do not force yourself to go to a dinner party if you do not feel like it, do not say "yes" to everything at work if it exceeds your daily workload. Take back the place that is yours!

Practice autosuggestion

Autosuggestion consists of repeating positive phrases to yourself. It is about counteracting one's thoughts when they are negative ("I'll never make it", "I'm not good enough"...). When these thoughts occur, you should stop them immediately and correct them with a positive affirmation. This reflex can really help you change your level of self-esteem.

If you wish to go further, you can even repeat encouraging phrases and inspiring mantras to yourself on a daily basis, and your brain will retain them! 

Listen to others less 

It is important not to take the way others look at you and talk to you (too) seriously. From now on, choose to keep at a distance other people's looks, opinions and remarks, which are often based on their personal experiences and emotions. Moreover, people around us tend to "freeze" us in a certain state or a certain personality type, which can prevent us from moving forward.

Self-esteem has its foundations in childhood and adolescence, but let us not forget that it can change throughout life. Whatever your current level of self-esteem, it is up to you to continue to work on it and improve it. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you feel the need.


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avatar Candice Salomé

Author: Candice Salomé, Health Writer

Candice is a content creator at Carenity and specialises in writing health articles. She has a particular interest in the fields of women's health, well-being and sport. 

Candice holds a master's degree in... >> Learn more

1 comment

on 12/11/2022

I have very low esteem and at present under the psychologist. I see my CPN on a regular basis. It's horrible feeling down and depressed on a daily basis

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