7 Steps to Improve Your Self-Esteem and Increase Your Self-Love

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Photo of Shira Shenberger @itsaconfettiparty

Our self-esteem impacts every aspect of our lives, from our day-to-day satisfaction to our ability to build strong, lasting relationships. So, why do we struggle to practice self-love if it’s so critical to our happiness?

Many of us have experienced trauma—whether in our childhood/adolescence or in a toxic relationship—which has stripped us of our confidence and forced us into a cycle of broken relationships and unhappiness. This trauma may have robbed us of the opportunity to know and have pride in ourselves. 

In order to move on from this trauma, we must get to the core of who we are; it’s hard to have self-esteem if you don’t even know yourself. I’ve created a list of seven steps you can take to rediscover yourself, improve your self-esteem, increase your self-love, and heal yourself and your relationships. Reconstructing your self-esteem will increase your confidence, empower you to find your own voice, free you from feeling the need to compare yourself with others, and end the cycle of negative self-talk.

You deserve to feel powerful, peaceful, and happy with yourself. All of this is possible if you are ready to put in the effort.

Honor all sides of yourself

There are times when we all get stuck in our roles. We think of ourselves as “just a mother”, “just an attorney”, or “just a spouse”, but the truth is that nobody is only one thing, and when we forget the other aspects of our true selves, we lose ourselves inside the role we play. We are all multifaceted beings, and it’s important for us to honor every side of ourselves. If you want to be fully giving of yourself and your love, you must first honor your full self. 

You are the essence of G-d’s child, and rather than wishing you were someone or somewhere else, honor and love the miracle that you are.

Maybe you are a mother…but maybe, you’re also a painter. A baker. A reader. A dancer. A dreamer. A runner. A traveler.

Think of all the things you are, and pay special attention to the activities and experiences which fulfill you.

Give yourself the gift of acknowledging and honoring all those other sides of yourself.

Make a “love” list

What are some things you love to do? Maybe you like to listen to music, play board games with friends, or wake up early on Sunday mornings to do yoga. Make a list of everything that you love, everything that gives you joy, and then do those things. Make space in your life—preferably at least 15 minutes a day, and at least a full hour once a week—to experience the things that you love to do.

When we actively seek out things we love, and carve out a specific time each day to have these positive experiences, the benefit is twofold: we get to look forward to the experience all day, and we get to carry the joy of the experience with us when it’s complete. 

Repeat positive affirmations

Take a moment to look at the thoughts and self-talk you’ve put on autopilot. What are you telling yourself? What is that inner dialogue saying? Then, consider how those thoughts are serving you. Are they bringing you joy? Do they make you feel good?

Acknowledge the subconscious thoughts that cross your mind, but do not give them space. Instead, replace them with positive affirmations. Say the following phrases to yourself at leasttwice a day:

I’m sorry.

Apologize to yourself. Say, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being attentive, for not listening to you, for not honoring you in the best way.” 

I love you.

This is so powerful. Every single one of us wants to be loved. But how can we expect love from others if we are unwilling to love ourselves? Say out loud, “I love you, self. I love every facet of you.” 

I forgive you.

As you lay in bed each night, reflect on your day and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for anything that makes you feel shame or guilt. Say out loud, “I forgive you. I forgive you for not accomplishing all the tasks you wanted to. I forgive you for making mistakes. I forgive you for struggling.” Then, let it go. Release that shame and guilt, and allow yourself to be forgiven.

Thank you.

This is so important. Remember to thank yourself for existing, for making an impact on the people around you, for trying your best, for just being you.

These affirmations can replace any negative self-talk and give you a chance to honor and heal yourself from pain.

Find and seek positive influences in your life

It’s often said that we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. It’s important to evaluate what sort of influence the people in your life have on your day. If you find that some of the people you spend your time with are having a negative impact on your life, limit the time you spend with them. In situations where you know you will be spending time with negative or toxic people, such as family members that you can’t dodge, prepare yourself. Use your positive affirmations to pump yourself up before you engage with them. Remind yourself of your strength, your beauty, your power, and your value. As often as possible, choose to spend time with people who lift you up and bring you joy. 

Make a list of your accomplishments

Take some time to sit and write down everything you’ve accomplished. This doesn’t just mean massive accomplishments, like a new career or some award; it means write down everything you’ve accomplished. Did you graduate high school? Great, write it down! Did you catch up on the laundry yesterday? Yep, write that down, too. Anything that you’ve completed goes on the list. Then, for the next few weeks, reflect on that list. Read it back to yourself. Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments, and allow yourself to be amazed by all the tiny things which have added up. 

Develop skills and passions which give you a sense of accomplishment

Think about the things you’re passionate about, and take some time to develop the skills related to those passions. You can also learn something completely new! Either way, developing new skills will give you something to be proud of, which is an important confidence-booster. Building new skills makes us feel good about ourselves…and it also gives us something to brag about!

STOP comparing yourself to others

Let me start by saying this: socialmedia isn’t real life. Theodore Roosevelt once famously said that comparison is the thief of joy, and he couldn’t have been more correct. Please, for the sake of your own happiness, do not start off your day with social media. When we scroll through those curated, retouched, and airbrushed photos, we aren’t seeing real life; we’re just seeing the version of reality which celebrities and friends want us to see. 

The life you have is beautiful. 

You are beautiful. 

The only comparison you should be doing is comparing today’s self to yesterday’s self. Have you grown? Have you improved? That is all that matters. Acknowledge and embrace your growth.

You are only meant to beyou. You aren’t meant to be perfect. You aren’t meant to have the life of some polished celebrity. You are the essence of G-d’s child, and rather than wishing you were someone or somewhere else, honor and love the miracle that you are.

You are unique, and that is your power. Love all of yourself. Show yourself compassion, patience, and forgiveness. Don’t let your mistakes define you; instead, let your self-love and grace be the things that guide your day.

We all fail, we all fall down, we all stumble on our paths. What matters is that we recognize those mistakes…and then let them go. 

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