How do you build healthy and positive self-esteem? Where to begin? Well, it must start with L.Y.F – LOVE YOURSELF FIRST. Life is a constant navigation for us through relationships, work, friendships, and our own self-criticism. When we struggle with self-doubts and low self-esteem, life becomes a hard and rocky road to navigate.

Self-esteem is the thoughts we have about ourselves and what we then in turn believe about ourselves. A low-esteem impacts our whole being – how we engage with ourselves, others, and the world. A low-esteem often includes avoiding difficult situations, being hypersensitive to criticism, increased anxiety, withdrawing from social situations, and being reluctant to trust yourself.

Research conducted by Thomas Boyce (PhD) and his colleagues on self-esteem found that positive affirmations decrease negative self-talk. Results indicate that negative self-talk becomes less, the more you make use of positive affirmations. The more you repeat a thought in your head, the more you will start to believe it and become part of your sense of self. It is essential to break the pattern of negative self-talk. With consistent practice and self-compassion, it is possible to break this cycle of negative thoughts stealing your joy!

Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D, researcher, and author of The Self-Esteem Workbook recognise and affirms the following eight steps to help you build your self-esteem and create more self-worth:

  1. Be Mindful: We can only change what we accept and recognize. Be still with yourself and sit with your emotions and thoughts. This is the hard part and also the first part to recognise what needs to change and there is no time limit on a better life.
  2. Change the story: What do you want to believe or feel about yourself? Start with that positive thoughts and behaviour, you can change your story and create your own narrative. Do not live by other people’s narratives of your life.
  3. You are you: No comparisons because there is only one of you in this world. Negative thoughts start with comparisons; nip it in the bud before you find yourself on a hard and rocky road.
  4. Channel your inner voice: This is all about what you are good at, and yes everyone is good at something. Find that something and write it down on a note and put it on your fridge and mirror to remind yourself and every week you add one thing to that list. If you struggle with this task, call a friend.
  5. Exercise: Many studies have shown that exercise has positive effects on the body and mind. It makes you feel good because of the hormone release and you feel confident. Setting daily or weekly goals will also give you confidence.
  6. Help others: Volunteer at your local charity or church. When we help someone who is less fortunate than we are, we feel of value. When you do something of value, you respect yourself more and it takes your mind off your own problems and focuses your attention and helping capabilities on someone else.
  7. Forgiveness: If you do not forgive yourself or someone that has hurt you, you stay in a cycle of negativity.
  8. You are not defined by your circumstances: There is a difference between who you are at your core and your circumstances/your past. To realize your potential and who you are outside of what has happened, is key to this step.

As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first, I called this attitude, a healthy egoism but today I know it is ‘Love Oneself’. – Charlie Chaplin (April 16th, 1959)

Hey Happy wants to motivate you to start building a positive and healthy self-esteem today. Join the ‘Love Yourself First’ movement today 🙂

written by Driana Zandberg, Social worker in private practice