Searching for a job or starting a new job can be quite overwhelming sometimes. We might think that we’re not good enough to even get a job or to be in the job we do have. We might feel battered by applying for jobs and not finding one. It’s almost inevitable that our self-esteem will take a knock. In fact, we might find that we have received so many negative messages about ourselves as we grew up that we carry these negative messages into the next stage of our life.

It’s a really difficult thing to unpack the negative messages that you may have had over the years from your family, your school, your community and society at large, so how do you build your self-esteem so that you feel more positive about yourself? The more positive you feel about your own worth or value to society the better able you are to withstand all the outside pressures you experience.
Here are some ideas for building your self-esteem:

• Don’t compare yourself to others

It’s such an ingrained habit to compare ourselves to others whether it is in real life or in the digital world. Perhaps you watch a TV programme and you compare your looks to the star of the show, or know someone who has a higher education than you and that makes you feel not good enough? This kind of thinking is really bad for your feelings of self-worth. Perhaps you haven’t had the same opportunities or the same qualities as others but that doesn’t mean you don’t have qualities of your own that are worthwhile.

• Keep your thoughts positive

It’s so easy to get into the trap of negative thinking. You send yourself negative messages all the time, ‘I’m not good enough’ and we repeat this to ourselves over and over again. How to you change this to sending yourself positive thoughts? Spend just 5 minutes every morning appreciating yourself, sending yourself positive messages no matter how small they are. ‘I’m a kind person’ or ‘I helped my neighbour’ and say ‘Well done!’ to yourself.

• Know who you are and what you want

As Oprah Winfrey says, ‘Be in the driving seat of your own life.’ Finding out who you really are – not the roles that you play in life – will give you a direction for your life. What is your vision and where do you want to go as a person? Read a previous Work-Wise blog, Develop your personal vision, to find out how to develop your personal vision statement.

• Be friends with people who are supportive

For some odd reason we are often friends with people from whom we seek approval. This means that we are always wondering what the group thinks of us, which sets us up to feel negatively about ourselves. If you’re friends with people who respect and love you for who you are, then you don’t need to be always needing approval from the group.

• Know your strengths

If you know what your strengths are then you can celebrate them! Perhaps your strengths are passion and courage; celebrate these! Don’t have any idea what your strengths are? Here is an free online strengths test to take: There are others available online; chose one that you think will work for you.

• Find a way to serve others

Strangely, the more things you do for others that are good, caring or kind, the better you land up feeling about yourself. The is why Martin Luther King Jnr said, ‘Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.’ Perhaps you read to a child next door or helped an old person to cross the road? These acts of service do not have to be big things but they will add significance to your life. Once your life has significance, you will find success.

• Always do the right thing

Personal integrity – always doing the right thing – builds your self-esteem because you never take actions against what you believe in. This means that those very negative thoughts of shame or guilt that destroy our feelings of self-worth are not necessary. Feelings of shame and guilt usually arise when we have done something that we feel isn’t the right thing.

Part of doing the right thing is doing everything you do well. If you strive to be excellent in everything you do, from making food for your family, to serving customers in the store, you will feel good about yourself and your self-esteem will go up. It’s not about others noticing it – it’s about you knowing it inside yourself.

Self-esteem shapes your life but often, as I wrote in the introduction, you might have many negative beliefs about yourself that come from others and so you don’t believe in yourself. Quite often you aren’t even aware that you have low self-esteem and how to fix it if you do. It’s not easy to fix but if you try and practice it every day of your life and take appropriate actions it will improve over time. Your self-confidence will grow and you will be free to be your true self.


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