This article will explain:
- what self esteem is
- what the 4 components of self-esteem are
- some tips for improving your self-esteem.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the opinion you have about yourself and your abilities. It can be influenced by factors like your confidence, your identity, and your sense of belonging. Self esteem can be high, low or somewhere in-between.
Low self esteem
Having low self-esteem might mean you aren’t confident in your abilities, your personality, or the value you bring to others in your life. Low self esteem might be caused by:
- not feeling a sense of security in life
- doubts about your gender, sexuality, or body
- feeling like you don't belong with your family, friends, or colleagues.
Good self esteem
On the contrary, having good self-esteem means you have positive beliefs about your abilities and your place in the world. It can be caused by:
- being confident in your ability to create change and withstand challenges in your life
- a sense of confidence and pride in your identity
- feeling like you belong in your family, school, or group of friends.
What are the 4 components of self-esteem?
Your self-esteem is made up from four attitudes you have about yourself: your confidence, your sense of identity, feeling a sense of belonging and being self-assured in your abilities.
Self-confidence is all about your sense of security you have in yourself and in your life. You can only branch out and grow if you feel secure that your needs are being met. Having your needs met means you have things like a place to live, physical health, and stable finances.
Your sense of identity is important to your self esteem because it is the knowledge you have about yourself. This can include your confidence in your body, your gender, your sexuality, your job, your beliefs, your culture, or anything else about yourself. It’s helpful to be confident in these things because they can help you understand what you need and what you want in life.
Feeling like you belong
Belonging is all about feeling welcome and an active part of where we actually are in life, whether that’s in your school, your workplace, your family, or the other groups you’re a part of. Sometimes, if you don’t feel belonging in one group you’re in, like your workplace, you can find your sense of belonging in another group, like your family or friends.
Feeling confident in your abilities
It’s important to feel confident in your abilities so that you can control what happens to you in life. If you’re confident in what you can do, you can handle big challenges and make the changes you need to make to respond to them. However, being confident in your abilities isn’t just about succeeding. It’s about learning from your mistakes and being resilient in the face of failure.
Why is self-esteem important?
Self-esteem is important because it is the underlying foundation supporting everything you do, from everyday chores and activities to long-term goals. While everyone occasionally has doubts about themselves, low self-esteem can leave you:
- feeling insecure
- lacking motivation
- unable to respond to challenges in your life
- anxious or depressed
- with negative thoughts and feelings about your body image.
Tips for improving your self esteem
1. Be nice to yourself
That little voice that tells you you’re killin’ it (or not) is way more powerful than you might think. Make an effort to be kind to yourself and, if you do slip up, try to challenge any negative thoughts. A good rule of thumb is to speak to yourself in the same way that you’d speak to your mates. This can be really hard at first, but practise makes perfect. If you want a few pointers, check out our tips for talking yourself up.
Try: Writing down three things that you like about yourself.
2. You do you
Comparing yourself to other people is a sure-fire way to start feeling crummy. Try to focus on your own goals and achievements, rather than measuring them against someone else’s. Nobody needs that kind of pressure!
3. Get movin’
Exercise is a great way to increase motivation, practise setting goals and build confidence. Breaking a sweat also cues the body to release endorphins, the feel-good hormones.
4. Nobody’s perfect
Always strive to be the best version of yourself, but it’s also important to accept that perfection is an unrealistic goal.
5. Remember that everyone makes mistakes
You’ve got to make mistakes in order to learn and grow, so try not to beat yourself up if you forget to hit CTRL+S on a super-important assignment. Everyone’s been there.
6. Focus on what you can change
It’s easy to get hung up on all the things that are out of your control, but it won’t achieve much. Instead, try to focus your energy on identifying the things that are within your control and seeing what you can do about them. Read more about how you can accept things that are out of your control.
Try: Writing down one thing that you're not happy with, and three ways you could change it.
7. Do what makes you happy
If you spend time doing the things you enjoy, you’re more likely to think positively. Try to schedule in a little you-time every day. Whether that’s time spent reading, cooking or just conking out on the couch for a bit, if it makes you happy, make time for it.
8. Celebrate the small stuff
You got up on time this morning. Tick. You poached your eggs to perfection. Winning. Celebrating the small victories is a great way to build confidence and start feeling better about yourself.
Try: Writing down three things you did well at the end of each day.
9. Be a pal
Being helpful and considerate to other people will certainly boost their mood, but it’ll also make you feel pretty good about yourself
10. Surround yourself with a supportive squad
Find people who make you feel good about yourself and avoid those who tend to trigger your negative thinking.
What can I do now?
- Read our tips for practising positive self-talk.
- Want to chat with a peer worker who can listen to you and support you? Book a free, text-based session with ReachOut PeerChat.
- Get an endorphin hit. Try jogging around the block, going for a swim in the ocean or having a boogie in your living room.