(This article on improving your self-esteem updates one of the first articles I wrote a few years ago.)
You can begin improving your Self-Esteem as an adult now! As children, we rely on others to define our worth by giving us clues about how they experience us. But as an adult, you have logical, rational, and reasoning capabilities to determine what is true for you. You can use these skills now to create more positive and accurate self-esteem that may have been damaged or stunted in childhood.
Here are some steps on improving your Self- Esteem as an adult:
Challenge Your Negative Beliefs and Improve Your Self-Esteem
It’s important to challenge your thinking and feelings about yourself to find a more accurate perception. For example:
- Ask yourself if the other person who is not valuing you may have an agenda involved in what they are saying. In other words, do they feel bad about themselves and need to put you down in order to lift themselves up?
- Challenge the reality of how you negatively interpret what is going on. What signs do you see that support your negative beliefs about yourself? What are other possible interpretations that might be more accurate? Try to be open about finding new beliefs about your true worth.
- Identify those beliefs from childhood that you, as a little boy or girl, accepted without question. Remember, that child did not have the emotional or mental capacity at that age to question the truthfulness about what parents or others said.
- Determine whether as an adult, you still believe these negative things about you as you did as a child.
Identify Those Friends Who Respect and Value You
We are more critical of ourselves than our friends are of us. Identify those friends who respect and value you for who you are, and want you to be healthy and happy, and treat you accordingly. Ask these friends what they most value about you.
Our attributes can be how we look (great hair). Or it can be a talent such as being good at soccer. It can also be a value, such as being kind to others. Be open to looking for those good qualities you may have overlooked or taken for granted.
What Do You Most Value in Yourself?
One of the best ways I know for improving your Self-Esteem is to identify the positive things about you. Think of the categories of possible qualities in the above paragraph. Do you feel you have any positive qualities? Do you let others see these positive qualities in you or do you hide them to avoid rejection?
It’s not unusual for some people to “dumb down” their true abilities in order to attract someone they are interested in knowing. Make sure you have an accurate view of your true worth and are not holding back those positive attributes.
Remember, even though you may not have experienced people valuing you for your good attributes, it doesn’t mean you don’t have them. You have to think outside the box and really take a good look at the positive things about you.
Reprocess Old Memories and Create More Accurate and Positive Beliefs About Yourself
As an adult, you can challenge your old beliefs or feelings about especially early negative experiences as a child. Ask yourself if you would still interpret those negative events now in the same way you did as a child? What would you have wanted that child to know at that moment?
- Challenge your habitual negative beliefs and expectations. For instance, I generally have a strong expectation that I will pick the worst line to stand in. It can look absolutely fine until a customer ahead of me starts to go through her coupons at the register. Rationally, I know I pay more attention to these negative beliefs and I am not noticing those times when I fly through the line with no interruptions or setbacks.
- Similarly, if you’ve had a series of bad experiences in dating, those experiences may not involve something wrong with you. More likely it involves picking the wrong person to date. That process usually comes from a negative and inaccurate view of your true worth and self-esteem.
- The more you truly value yourself the healthier people you attract to you. It’s about believing in your true worth and “wearing” it like your best dress or suit. Own it!
Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind and Improve Your Self-Esteem
- You can reprogram your subconscious mind. In the New Thought philosophy, the Law of Attraction is the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life (Wikipedia). As discussed above, beliefs about yourself often come from early childhood experiences.
- You can also reprogram your subconscious mind visually through an Image or Vision Board or by writing or reciting affirmations on a daily basis. I discuss the value of doing an Image Board in an article entitled Design Your Perfect Life in 2020 – Create Your Own Vision Board.
- Begin to visualize yourself in a healthy relationship that has the qualities you desire. Even if you are in a serious relationship you can visualize how you want things to be. Are you doing your part to make that happen regardless of what the other person is doing?
- Do you feel valued by this person or do you think it is mostly about their needs? Talk to them about what you want in a non-judging manner. Demonstrate those qualities that you want for yourself.
- Ask yourself if you value yourself enough to be in a fulfilling relationship with someone. Or if you deserve to have the job you really want. If you do not value yourself, you are not likely to attract people and experiences that demonstrate respect for you.
In closing, the more you improve your true Self-Esteem the better you will feel about life, dating, friendships, and YOU!
If this process of learning to improve your Self-Esteem hasn’t worked for you or feels daunting, don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling to support you in that process.