positive self esteem

Positive Self-Esteem: What is it, How to Get it, and How to Keep it

March 25, 2021

We often hear that people who are overweight must have low self-esteem. Many weight loss programs encourage those individuals to 'love themselves,' and that weight loss will automatically increase their self-esteem. This could not be furthest from the truth. Weight loss is never a guarantee your self-esteem will increase issue. You may 'feel better' for a while, but to address self-esteem, we must first understand positive self-esteem.

The definition of self-esteem is an individual's overall sense of self-worth or personal sense of value.

Positive Self-Esteem

In simple terms, self-esteem is how much one likes themselves and feels good about who they are as a person and their roles in their lives. It includes various beliefs and self-perceptions, such as how you look, how you think others feel about you, and how you present yourself to the world around you.

Individuals who have endured significant criticism, correction, or overly negative assessments from family members, leadership, or within relationships, especially at a young age, begin to believe those are truths, thus decreasing their self-worth (Crocker & Major, 1989). Once YOU accept that as your truth and start believing the negative assessments, you no longer need to hear it from others; you will convince yourself of it every time your personal value is in question.

How Do You Know If Your Self-Esteem Is Low?

  • You believe that others are better than you
  • You find it difficult expressing your needs and expecting them to be met
  • You focus on your weaknesses or what you deem is negative or a failing
  • You frequently experience feelings such as shame, depression, or anxiety
  • You have a negative outlook on life and your role in it
  • You have an intense fear of failure and will never try
  • You have trouble accepting positive feedback; (i.e.cannot say thank you to a compliment)
  • You have trouble saying "no" even when you should
  • You consistently put other people's needs before your own
  • You struggle with confidence personally, professionally or both

Factors That Shape Our Self-Esteem

Self-esteem begins to form in early childhood. Factors that can influence self-esteem include (Mayo Clinic, 2017):

  • Your thoughts and perceptions
  • How other people react to you and what they say
  • Experiences at home, school, work, and in the community
  • Illness, disability, or injury
  • Age – maturity level
  • Role and status in society
  • Media messages

Many of the beliefs you hold today have been shaped by so many different influences that you have accepted willingly or unwillingly. You have to remember, "your words are the most powerful words you will ever believe." Poor experiences do not have to be the destiny of your self-esteem. You have the power to change it, thus change how you maneuver throughout your life.

Healthy, Positive Self-Esteem

Having healthy self-esteem means you have a balanced, accurate view of yourself.

For instance, you recognize your strengths and weaknesses and accept when you do not always make the best decisions for yourself or those around you.

You are open to feedback and can use it to improve your life areas you would like to adjust.

You do not take things personally or feel that the conversation, tone, or reactions toward you are about you.

How To Acquire Healthier, Higher Positive Self-Esteem?


YOU change the dialog you are having within your self-talk about yourself

You have to listen to how you are talking about yourself, your internal self-dialog, and conversations with others. Your brain believes you! It does not recognize a 'just kidding' or 'I did not really mean that". It recognizes your tone above all others and believes what it hears the most. You must listen to your thoughts and words carefully and begin correcting the negative criticisms.


YOU have to set boundaries

Set boundaries for those who continue to put you down or remind you of your past mistakes, worth, or value. That toxicity is usually a result of their own personal issues; however, human nature implies it is easier to minimize you than to improve themselves.


YOU have to associate with those that lift you higher

Your circle of influence is the top (5-10) people you spend the most time with on a daily basis. Are they people who love you? Appreciate you? Give back to you? Treat you in a loving way?  Do they have your best interest at heart? It matters not only how you treat yourself but also what you allow others to say and do to and around you.


YOU have to let go of the need to be perfect

Perfection does not make you invincible to adverse reactions. However, it could increase the personal pressure to maintain the perfection that you emotionally break from trying to live a façade of your real beliefs.

Accepting who you are, your strengths and failures, and your ability to recover from what feels like a personal defeat will continue to increase your self-esteem.


YOU have to give yourself time to change your beliefs

You cannot tell yourself you are great three times a day and think it will affect your self-esteem. You have to begin hearing and then addressing the negative views, whether they are coming from you or others, every time you hear them. You have to verbally give yourself reassuring, comforting, and strengthening words and conversations to change the internal tapes that have taken over your personal worth.

Self-esteem affects every area of your life. It is in your decision-making, choices, direction both personally and professionally, in your spiritual realm, and how you view your authentic self as you live out your life. You are worth the effort it takes to improve your self-esteem. Begin today.


Crocker, J., & Major, B. (1989). Social stigma and self-esteem: The self-protective properties of stigma. Psychological Review; 4:608-630. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.96.4.608

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Self-esteem check: Too low or Just right? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20047976

positive self-esteem
Debra Taylor


Dr. Debra Taylor, Ph.D., M.S. is founder of "Weight, WHAT? Food Addictions Center" working with surgical and non-surgical weight loss clients for pre and post care and long term support. She is a national and international motivational speaker and trainer for addictions, obesity, finding purpose and living your best life. Read more articles by Dr. Taylor!