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Low self-esteem can show up in different ways for different people. In general, self-esteem is related to how much we value and respect ourselves. This means that low self-esteem may look like:
- Feeling unworthy of love and respect (from oneself and others)
- Putting down one’s own abilities and skills (minimizing positive qualities and maximizing perceived negative qualities)
- Negative self-perception
What Can We Do to Cultivate Self-Esteem?
Building self-esteem is often not as easy as just “being kind to ourselves”. Developing self-esteem is often a process of recognizing our self-worth, meeting our own needs, and practicing daily habits to cultivate greater self-understanding and compassion.
Develop Consistent Self-Care Activities
How we treat ourselves impacts how we feel about ourselves. While doing sporadic, externally focused self-care activities like the odd face mask or bubble bath can temporarily boost self-esteem, creating a personalized self-care routine that aligns with our values can help us to take care of our inner selves long-term.
Be Aware of Your Own Needs and Try to Meet Them
Listening to our emotions and bodily sensations can give us information about what our current needs are. Whether we need rest, nourishment, or play, taking the proper actions to meet these needs communicates to ourselves that we are valuable.
Celebrate the Little Things
We are all just doing our best with the circumstances we are given. Oftentimes when people are struggling with low self-esteem, they spend more time focusing on what they are doing “wrong” than what they are doing “right”. Taking the time to recognize our everyday accomplishments can be a great way to notice more of what we’re doing right.
Self-Compassion as a Practice and Not a Goal
Practicing self-compassion looks different for different people. For some people self-compassion takes the form of meditation, journaling, or even cooking a meal for themselves. Finding something you can do regularly to direct unconditional kindness, caring, and understanding inward can be a great way to practice being gentler with yourself.
Seek Help from a Mental Health Professional
How others have treated us in the past can significantly impact how we treat and view ourselves. These more ingrained patterns of neglect, trauma, and maltreatment can be difficult to work through on our own and may require additional support.
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Written by: Emma Fletcher, Practicum Student
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