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Six Steps to Healthy Self-Esteem

Laura Richer, Seattle Therapist

Jun 27, 2016

What is self-esteem?

Simply put, it’s is the way we think about ourselves. It’s not arrogance or being boastful. Self-esteem is our ability to offer or deny ourselves love, compassion, and acceptance. And our ability to see ourselves in a positive light shapes our entire life experience.

It determines what risks we are willing to take, both personally and professionally; how we allow others to treat us in relationship; and the way we experience our bodies, everyday circumstances, and life in general.

People with healthy self-esteem have a positive life experience while people with low self-esteem struggle. Even if you are not struggling outwardly, if you can’t accept yourself, you hate your body, or you believe you haven’t achieved enough, life is going to be painful.

Why Do You Need to Like Yourself?

It’s very simple: Because you want to be happy. We all desire acceptance, inner peace, and happiness. That desire leads us to pursue certain outside circumstance that we believe will bring us all of those good feelings that we so desperately crave. We believe that if only we had the right relationship, job, or number on the scale, then happiness surely would be ours. That is an illusion. Your life will be happy when you love yourself unconditionally, regardless of outside circumstances.

As you’re reading this you may notice some immediate resistance come up. Your inner critic might pipe in and say, I can’t love myself at this weight, with this much debt, or without accomplishing something first. Or you could even become aware of a thought saying that you’re inherently unlovable and that all of this self-acceptance talk is a bunch of self-help crap.

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Enter a Life Coach

Believe it or not, it’s not so outside of the realm of possibilities that you can learn to like yourself. Healthy self-esteem is yours for the taking; all it requires is a shift in perception. If you think about it, changing your mind has the potential to be easier than losing those last 10 pounds that you’ve been obsessing over for the past 15 years, or landing that emotionally unavailable partner who just isn’t into you. All you have to do is change your mind.

I know what you might be thinking: It’s easier said than done. Although a lifetime of body shaming and negative self-talk takes some time to undo, it absolutely is possible. I know because I have done it myself, and I see my clients make progress in making peace with themselves every day.

A Life Coach will work with you using certain tools and techniques to help you develop self-confidence and healthy self-esteem. Life Coaching can help you raise your self-image and help you develop a positive outlook on life that starts from within. A Life Coach will call you out on your bullshit, challenge your limiting beliefs that are keeping you small, and work with you to release the behaviors that have been holding you back. At the same time, a Life Coach will offer you unwavering support and be your biggest cheerleader.

Six Steps to Healthy Self-Esteem

Even if you’re not ready to work with a professional quite yet, you still can start working on building a healthy self-esteem right now. Here are six tips to get you started.

1. You are amazing just because you are you; focus on the positive.

Make a list of your top 10 qualities—these are the special traits and gifts that make you unique. If you don’t know, ask your mom, best friend, or someone who is your biggest fan. Then write a list of your successes big or small, any accomplishment that made you feel proud of yourself. Read and add to this list often.

2. DON’T put yourself down.

You are no longer allowed to call yourself fat, an idiot, or a stupid loser. I like to tell my clients to monitor the way they talk to themselves and see if they would speak to their children or loved ones in that manner. If the answer is absolutely not, then you know something needs to change. Verbal abuse is never acceptable, not even for you. Counteract your put downs with positive affirmations. Tell yourself you are beautiful and loveable just the way you are. Part of this process is the “fake it ’til you make it” idea. It might not feel real at first, but keep practicing it. If you are consistent in practicing positive affirmations, you won’t be able to stop yourself from making a shift.

3. Be selective about the company you keep.

Do you find yourself spending time with other people who put themselves down or are highly critical of you? If the answer is yes, then this is an excellent time for you to practice having boundaries, which are critical to cultivating health self-esteem. Don’t engage in conversations where people are putting themselves or others down. This is especially a problem amongst women. We’ve made talking about how fat we are into a bonding ritual. This practice is not only hurtful to your self-esteem but also to the people who you indulge during these conversations.

4. Practice accepting compliments even if you don’t buy it.

Often when we have low self-esteem, we find it extremely difficult to accept a compliment. We just don’t believe it and feel so strongly that we are not worthy of that compliment that we start explaining to the giver why he or she is wrong. When someone tells you that you look good, simply say, “Thank you.” You don’t need to tell them that you bought your outfit on clearance or that your accomplishment was not a big deal and that there are other people doing better things. These comments make everyone uncomfortable. The practice of receiving the appreciation of others will help you learn to appreciate yourself and maybe even open your eyes to new and positive qualities that others see in you that you weren’t aware of.

5. Stop listening to your inner critic.

We all have a rational voice, and we also have an irrational one. Practice being the observer of your thoughts. Notice how many of them are hurtful and aim to convince you of all of the reasons that you aren’t good enough. Question these negative thoughts. Keep practicing, and you’ll start to notice just how crazy these thoughts are.

6. Practice radical self-care because you deserve it!

Take care of your physical body. Choose to eat foods that nourish your body. Drink less alcohol, get adequate rest, and find a way to move your body that you enjoy. You as much as anyone deserve your attention and care.


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