You Matter: How to Maintain Positive Self-Esteem
Your harshest critic is often the one that lives inside your mind. Everyone judges themselves to a certain extent; however, for people struggling with low self-esteem, the feeling of being flawed or not good enough can be overwhelming. Low self-esteem stands in the way of a productive life and can fuel the cycle of disordered eating.1
A few simple strategies can help you break patterns of negative thoughts and boost your positive self-esteem and body image. In this article, we’ll look at some effective ways to maintain positive self-esteem.
Acknowledge Negative Thoughts
If you’re going through a difficult moment that triggers negative self-talk, don’t ignore it. Pay attention to the thoughts that are running through your head. You’ll probably recognize certain common thought patterns. Try to challenge these thoughts. Are they accurate? Are they based on facts and logic? It can be difficult to step back and look at these thoughts with an objective eye.
Deep-seated, long-held beliefs can feel so normal and obvious that we just accept them as facts; however, it’s important to remember that they’re only opinions, and they’re not necessarily valid. Ask yourself if you’d ever say these negative things to a family member or friend. If you wouldn’t say them to someone you care about, then you shouldn’t say them to yourself.
Reframe Your Inner Voice Toward Positive Self-Esteem
Once you’re able to identify and challenge the negative thoughts that chip away at your positive self-esteem, you can begin to replace them with more constructive messages:2
- Create “turnaround” statements: Every time you catch yourself in an act of negative self-talk, replace it with a positive one that turns the toxic whisper into an affirmation of your worth.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes: Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes; a mistake is just a moment in time, and it doesn’t define you as a person or limit your potential.
- Learn from negative experiences: Instead of allowing a negative experience to get you down, reframe it as an opportunity to learn. What could you do differently in the future?
Tune out the Media
Messages in the media, particularly social media, can have a real impact on your self-esteem. Limiting your exposure can help you tune out some of the more negative messages. Are the carefully curated and deliberately flawless images of happiness on Instagram getting you down? It might be time to cut back on social media or even take a short break from it.
Of course, it’s impossible to stay away from all media, so it’s important to learn how to think critically about what you see and read. If you find that the impossibly perfect bodies in magazines trigger negative self-talk, look at those images with a critical eye. Remind yourself that the images are almost definitely airbrushed or retouched.
If you’ve been struggling with negative thoughts and low self-esteem, it’s time to embrace and celebrate who you are. There is only one of you, and the world needs you—the real you.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience to learn how to silence your inner critic and replace it with an internal voice filled with love and self-acceptance. When you begin to understand the feelings that drive your actions, the real healing and recovery can begin.