self esteem

13 Ways to Enhance Your Self-Esteem

June 29, 2016

Self-esteem can be defined as having confidence and faith in oneself and one's worth and abilities.  Merriam-Webster defines self-esteem as a confidence and satisfaction in oneself; self-respect (2016).

"It's a sad man, My Friend, who's living in his own skin but can't stand the company." ~ Bruce Springsteen, Better Days, 1992

What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is an individual quality that can be impacted by a myriad of factors, including how we are raised by our parents, what we are taught in school, and the life events we have experienced.  Self-esteem can be very fragile in people who have endured many hardships, abusive situations, or bullying.  Having a physical condition can worsen self-esteem.  Being overweight, for instance, can make an individual feel ashamed of himself. And, feeling ashamed of one's self can contribute to an individual becoming overweight in the first place.

Low self-esteem can be marked by feelings of shame, self-blame, timidness, poor relationships, trouble drawing boundaries, and lack of success.  We can all recall a time in our lives when feeling bad about ourselves caused us to retreat instead of branching out into the world.  Everyone experiences at least some self-doubt, but poor self-esteem is more pervasive.  It behooves us, then, to actively work to improve our self-esteem.

13 Ways to Enhance Your Self-Esteem


Don't "should" yourself.  Eliminate the word  "should" from your vocabulary. Who says you "should" do this or that?  Why "should" you?  What would happen if you followed your intuition and chose not to do something?


Learn to rely on yourself for your own worth.  Family and friends have their own issues to deal with.  Be careful not to hedge your self-esteem on how they appraise you.  Self-esteem needs to be intrinsic rather than based on external, variable factors.


Take an inventory of your strengths.  What are you good at?  What skills do you have?  What do people compliment you on?


Take care of your appearance.  Do the best with what nature has given you.  Attend to your self-care needs and practice good grooming techniques.


Stay physically active.  Exercise releases endorphins (i.e., feel good chemicals) in our brains.  It feels good!  Plus, achieving fitness goals is life-affirming and self-esteem building.


Help others.  Practice random acts of kindness. Share your talents with others. Volunteer.  It feels good and builds confidence to assist fellow humans.


Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby.  Exploring different interests keeps you engaged in life and builds confidence.  It places you among other students and gives you the opportunity to expand your social network.   It, also, provides a productive focus for your thoughts.


Nip negative self-talk in the bud.  Learn to identify and stop negative thoughts.  Replace them with positive affirmations.


Let toxic people go.  Negative people tend to bring you down.  Don't keep them around or limit your contact with them.


Stop comparing with anyone else.  When you compare yourself to others, it is a setup for misery.  Focus on your own life.  And, remember so-called "reality" television is anything but reality.


Enforce healthy boundaries.  Being kind to others is wonderful.  Allowing other people to take advantage of you and walk all over you is unhealthy and bad for your self-esteem.  Your needs and wants matter.  YOU matter!


Change your environment.  Be sure to take care of your personal space.  Surround yourself with people, things, thoughts, and messages that are positive and uplifting.  Eliminate clutter in your environment, your mind, and your social circle.  Letting go of who and what is no longer serving us makes way for new people and things to enter our lives.


Learn to identify and accept your emotions.  Allow yourself to feel your emotions without judgment.  Recognize that your feelings are unique to you and are providing you with information.  They are temporary and do not make you a good or bad person simply for having them.  You are worthy of having thoughts, feelings, ideas, wants, and needs without being guilty or shamed.

The above formula for excellent self-esteem will take practice and mindfulness to put into place.  It may be helpful to work with a qualified mental health professional or coach to examine some of the underlying causes of your poor self-esteem.  S/he will be able to support you as you work through some difficult emotions and set healthy new goals.

The effort will be well worth it as you begin to feel more comfortable in your own skin.  People will notice and respond.  Some of those toxic people might even remove themselves from your life.  Your healthy self-esteem may begin to intimidate them.  As your self-esteem grows, new opportunities will begin to present themselves, and you will be more likely to take them.  Enjoy your newfound confidence!  As Bruce Springsteen would say, "Better days are shining through"!

Coach Jenna Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT is a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer with Formula For Excellence®

self esteem


Coach Jenna Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT is a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer with advanced degrees in Behavioral Science, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Therapy. She works with clients to redesign their lifestyle habits. Subscribe to the Formula For Excellence® newsletter to receive a Free Habit Tracker and occasional health and wellness tips.