Life is difficult when you don't feel good about yourself. Low self-esteem can lead to a lack of self-confidence, difficulty in relationships, social anxiety, depression, and a general sense of unhappiness and disillusionment with life.
But you don't have to suffer from low self-esteem. Here are some steps you can take to build high self-esteem and greater self-confidence:
Work Out What Is Important To You
When we know what we stand for and what our basic values are, we're much less susceptible to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Even when things don't go our way, we've still got our core values to fall back on. Values that are important to us also act as a guiding light to help us make decisions, and recognize when we're acting out of integrity. The more we act in integrity with our basic values, the more self-esteem we tend to generate.
Spend some time writing down a list of values that are important to you, like happiness, love, respect, success, relationships, family, friends, etc etc. Prioritize the list by asking yourself "Would I give X up for Y?" as you work your way down it. Stick the result on your wall, and memorize your top 3. If you need help determining your core values, consider getting a Life Coach to help you.
Set Achievable Goals
Having determined our core values, we can then set goals that are aligned with who we are, and what's most important to us. Many people with low self-esteem have vague goals, too many goals, goals that aren't really that important to them, or no goals at all. It's human nature to want to work towards something and having goals gives us a target to aim for.
We need a combination of short, medium, and long term goals. When we set ourselves a major goal, it's important to break it down into achievable steps we can take so that we feel a sense of progress towards the goal without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Beware that you can't base your self-esteem entirely on your achievements. The positive effects we get from achieving our goals is fleeting; invariably we end up needing to set new goals to work towards. Human nature is insatiable and using our achievements as our primary source of self-esteem is a recipe for misery.
Offload Your Emotional Baggage
Emotional baggage from past life events can be a major contributing factor to low self-esteem. It doesn't matter what other people think about what we've been through, the important thing is the impact that it's had on us. Some events make us feel good about ourselves, but others can traumatize us leaving lasting and damaging impression.
Traumatic life events leave us with emotionally charged memories that trigger any time we encounter another similar situation. It's very difficult to feel good about yourself when you're being triggered emotionally a lot of the time. The solution is to seek emotional healing to offload our emotional baggage in some form of therapy, counseling, coaching, or group work.
Develop Your Communication Skills
A lack of self-esteem is usually most obvious in the way that we communicate with other people. It's a double whammy, because this makes it even more difficult to develop the communication skills that would have enabled us to communicate more powerfully with others in the first place.
Making a conscious effort to improve your communication skills will raise your self-esteem, and you will start noticing other people responding to you in a more positive manner. Generally speaking, the more effectively you can communicate your thoughts and feelings to other people, the more they will be drawn to you.
Sometimes there are relatively simple communication techniques we can learn that make a big difference to the way other people respond to us. For example, see this video on How to Start Conversations with Strangers.
Focus On Helping Others
Low self-esteem can cause us to doubt ourselves, and leave us believing that we have little to offer other people. We also become self-conscious and can end up obsessing about our problems. The solution to both these dilemmas is to focus on how you can contribute towards helping other people.
Ask yourself what you can do to make a difference. Consider what your unique gifts and talents are, and how you can apply them in the service of others. Don't hold back out of fear; everyone has something special that they can offer.
The way to get what you want in life is to help other people get what they want. Start utilizing your talents in ways which help other people, and you'll find those talents get even more powerful, and more people will want what you have to offer.
Conquer Some Fears
Overcoming the fears that hold us back leaves us feeling better about ourselves, builds our self-confidence, and renders us more capable in life generally. The more fears you overcome, the greater your self-esteem will grow. Everybody has fear; it's part of what we all share. People who pretend not to have any fear are just trying to fool you. Wherever you are at, there will be some small fears that you can begin to tackle which will build your self-esteem.
Be patient with yourself; don't expect to overcome a bundle of major phobias overnight. Don't ditch anxiety medication unless your doctor advises you to, and don't overwhelm yourself. But adopt the attitude that you are the kind of person who doesn't let fear hold you back in life, and start expanding your comfort zone.
Build Genuine Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is the ultimate antidote to low self-esteem. When we recognize our true value, our uniqueness, gifts and talents on a consistent basis, we feel confident to handle whatever life throws at us. Start building a sense of genuine self-confidence so that you aren't at the mercy of your emotions or of other your interactions with people all the time. Think of times in your life when you felt good about yourself, and allow yourself to wallow in those positive vibes. Allow them to expand and take over the present moment.
Get yourself a confidence coach, do courses, read books and articles about how to build lasting confidence. Keep working on all these ideas, implement them in your life, and come up with new ones that work for you as you work towards building an unshakable sense of confidence and high self-esteem in all areas of your life.
If you're not sure where to start, check out The Confident Man Program for a step-by-step guide to building self-confidence for men.