Self-esteem: how to improve

Do you like yourself? Are you someone who deserves happiness? If you find these questions hard perhaps you suffer from low self-esteem. Self-esteem is that value that we place on ourselves; often it is determined by our actions and how we perceive them.

Yet even as we judge ourselves, often we apply higher standards to ourselves than we do to others. We expect ourselves to have unreasonable powers. ‘I should have known he was thinking that!’ Perhaps in this fast paced society there is no room for Mr and Mrs Average, perhaps we all have to be perfect. Yet that seems an unrealistic target so how do you raise your self-esteem yet acknowledge your need to grow and improve.

Stop catastrophising

If you make a mistake or an error of judgement it is often embarrassing or perhaps you may feel guilty but it is rarely the end of the world. Thus someone might think I am no good at Maths so I will fail the exam. If I fail the exam I won’t get into University and I won’t get a good job so I will have failed all because I am stupid at Maths. This sort of thinking could be challenged so that you take on others perspectives. I am not good at Maths, but I can do trigonometry so perhaps I could do those questions, if I study hard then I only need to pick up a few more marks for a pass. There is more realism, more living in the moment with the second scenario. Perhaps the key point is self-acceptance that you are not perfect yet can still succeed.

Project the person you want to be

Be real, perhaps you could smile more, have a few open questions that you can ask people when you meet them. People will respond because they find you open and approachable and you in turn will begin to believe what was always true that people enjoy being with you.

Wake up and walk out of your past into your future

The past is fixed, however hard or embarrassed or guilty you feel when looking back. You can choose now what your future will be don’t be held back by your past. Examine it honestly learn any lessons and move on. Worrying about what happened in the past won’t change it and it will get in the way of moving forward.

You are unique you are the best at being you

It seems in our nature to compare ourselves to others. Yet everyone is different, everyone has skills and talents. Remind yourself of what you can be not what you can’t. So he’s a good artist I bet he wishes he could play the piano like me. If there is something you want to be good at perhaps you could take a class, perhaps you could just enjoy it without being the best.


Many studies over time have shown that we feel good about ourselves when we help others. That satisfaction that you have made a difference to another person becomes almost addictive. You also get skills from the practice and it has helped people get jobs or change career


Accept compliments don’t brush them away, judge yourself kindly. So often we brush away compliments, Oh it was nothing. Yet that is to ignore the other person’s opinion that it was something and they are trying to thank you. So next time bathe in the glow and say thank you.

Stop procrastinating

The mistake most people make is to be paralysed by fear, fear of getting it wrong, fear of rejection. Yet if you don’t change something why would anything change. Take the first step in faith you don’t have to see the whole staircase.

Finally, you are going to make mistakes that’s the way we learn how to do things better. When mistakes happen, and they surely will accept the opportunity to learn and come back stronger and more determined next time.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Glasgow, G46
Written by Graeme Orr, MBACP(Accred) Counsellor
Glasgow, G46

Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.


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