Self-esteem is crucial for a healthy life. It is what builds up our confidence and increases our feelings of self-worth. It is so common for us to be our own worst enemy. We are usually the first ones to criticize ourselves, the first one to put ourselves down, and the first in line to say, “I told you that you couldn’t do it.”

Why do we do this? It all boils down to low self-esteem. Maybe you had a great sense of self-esteem when you were younger – before you made that mistake, or allowed yourself to be put down by someone else, or before you so-called failed at life.

Good news! Those are just events and miscommunicated perceptions of your own self. All those things – or anything that makes you think negative things about yourself – do not make you who you are. Sure, life throws us curve balls and life can even get ugly – but they do not define you.

If you are struggling with your self-esteem, stop. YOU are wonderful and worthy. And, if you need to find that out for yourself, here is how you can do that:

Find something you do well

Many people define themselves by what they positively identify the strongest with – “I am a doctor,” “I am a musician,” or “I am a mother.”What do you identify yourself with?

Find something that you do well. When you are good at something, you tend to feel good about yourself. This can be absolutely anything and it doesn’t have to be outwardly. For example –

  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Cooking or baking
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Running
  • Singing
  • Fixing things, such as electronics or cars

Whatever it is that interests you, just do it. And, do it well.

Affirmations are important

Affirmations are positive statements or images that can change your perception of yourself. Think about it – when you are bombarded with negativity or surround yourself with negative people or negative images, you tend to become negative, right?Therefore, if you surround yourself with good…. see where we are going here?

Search magazines, books, or the internet and find quotes or pictures that make you feel good. Look for positive inspirations that you can look at or read when you are feeling down and know that it can help you see the light in the darkness.

Once you find them, do this:

  • Tape them to your bathroom mirror, your door, or anywhere you find yourself face to face with the affirmations throughout a normal day.
  • Make reading affirmations the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night.
  • Carry a list of affirmations with you throughout your day. If you find yourself needing a lift, pull it out and read it.

The more we get told something, the more we start to believe it. Just as it works with negative statements and criticism, so it also works with positive, motivating statements.

Write your story

Yes, you have a story. And, whether you choose to believe it or not, you have the story of an overcomer. It is powerful – and hearing your story can be inspiring, even for yourself. Take the time to write your story from the beginning. Write about your childhood, your relationships, your triumphs, and your struggles. Share about your addiction – how did you get there? Discuss your time as an addict. Then, write about journey into recovery and sober living.

Reading all that you have been through – from where you were to where you are now – can make you feel good. You accomplished something huge that many people never allow themselves to do. Be proud.

Make sure you leave space so that you can continue to write your story as you live it out to the fullest!

Do not compare yourself to others

You are unique and so are your experiences in life, your genetic makeup, and the people you encounter. Therefore, you cannot compare yourself with anyone else. Doing so will only drag you down and, quite honestly, that is not the way you want to go.

Keep in mind that social media makes this difficult. It is common for individuals to see the lives of others through these sites and begin the comparisons without even realizing. In fact, studies show that there is a link between depression and Facebook usage. Limit your time on social sites until you find the confidence to truly understand that much of the time, the life portrayed on these sites is not the reality. Despite what the picture tells you, no one lives a perfect life.

Set goals for yourself

Each time we make progress and move forward, we can feel like we have accomplished something. And each time that happens? Our confidence gets a boost. So, use this to your advantage! Set goals for yourself and make sure to include mini goals along the way, too. This allows you to focus on the big picture, while getting a boost of goodness each step along the way.

Ever heard of SMART goals system? It uses the acronym to help you create specific, attainable goals that will help you reach the finish line. There are several different acronyms for SMART goals. Because we are trying to set goals to boost self-esteem, we are going to use these:

  • Specific – spell out the details of your goal.
  • Meaningful – make sure it can be measured
  • Attainable – be realistic about where you want to go with your goal
  • Rewarding – your goal should be positive and rewarding, leading you in the right direction
  • Trackable – you need to be able to track your progress to reaching goal

Because your goal is real and trackable, you should be able to monitor your progress with mini goals along the way. As you reach each of these milestones, reward yourself. Doing so will keep you moving forward.

Although self-esteem can be beaten down in an instant, it takes time to build it back up. Stay positive and stay diligent with all these steps – and make sure to smile at yourself each time you look in the mirror.