4 Tips For Anyone To Build Self-Esteem (Even If You Think You Can't)

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist By John Kim, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the moniker The Angry Therapist.

Self esteem is a term in psychology which basically means an evaluation of one’s worth. I believe most of us have low self esteem, a negative evaluation of self. It’s due to circumstances we encounter in life, including relationships that alarm and confuse us, and we respond by self defeating and self destructing. We internalize and create false beliefs about ourselves. Then we pull from these beliefs and our thinking narrows, our self care deteriorates, and we lose our sense of self.

Everyone wants to know how raise his or her self esteem. I think the problem starts with this sentence. You don’t raise self esteem. You build it. Many people think that by having conversations or connecting dots in their life's story, they'll suddenly believe they have more worth. That may be part of the process, but the truth is, like anything else in this world, self esteem is built and it takes a lot of hard work. By "work," I mean action, not revelations.

Here are four tips to build self esteem.

1. You must have healthy boundaries or your self esteem will leak like a punctured water balloon.

Anyone who makes you feel less than must be kept at a distance. Even if that person is a "good" friend. Keep your container safe by drawing clear boundaries. This includes unhealthy relationships and being with someone you know is bad for you. Give yourself space. You don’t have to be there for everyone. Remember: once you start feeling like you’re losing yourself, you're no long building worth. You are destroying it.

2. A good way to build self-esteem is to start with your body.

Hike. Yoga. CrossFit. Whatever works for you. And have fun with it. If you see it as work, it won’t last and you won’t see results. Starting is the most difficult. Know that. The goal is to see results, which is the greatest traction you’ll have to keep building your worth. It’s not about looking amazing. It’s about feeling amazing.

3. Create a space to exercise your talents and passions.

Even if you only have an hour of the day, do what you were born to do. Maybe your passion will turn into your job and your job won’t feel like a job anymore. It will never happen unless you start carving out time for yourself. Maybe that means going back to school. Maybe that means starting your own business. Maybe that means picking up a guitar. The more you share your gifts with the world, the more the world will respond and the more self esteem you'll build.

4. Express yourself.

Most of us suppress our state or our feelings. By doing so, you're telling yourself that you are not worthy. It’s less about venting and more about allowing yourself to be heard. Without a voice, it’s easy to feel like you don’t exist. Prove that you exist by being heard. No one else can do it for you.

Now imagine an engine. These four tips are like pistons in that engine. The more pistons you have pumping, the faster you'll build. The goal is to execute all four simultaneously and get a strong momentum going.

Rebuild yourself.

John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT
John Kim, LMFT, is an author, speaker, and a licensed marriage and family therapist who goes by the...
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John Kim, LMFT
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