Good self-esteem helps you make sound choices, have a healthy regard for your well-being, and live authentically.
And it's not defined by a six-pack, a six-figure career, or a feel-good buzz after six beers. It's deeper. It's how you feel about you.
Sadly, many of us sabotage our self-esteem unconsciously (and then wonder why we feel like sh*t). Could you be holding yourself back?
1. Don't obsess over mistakes.
So you were underprepared for a meeting two months ago. Or you made an insensitive comment to a friend. Maybe you have credit card debt you feel shame over. That's OK. Fix what you can. Move on. Learn. Live in the now.
2. Stop hanging out with people out of loyalty instead of intention.
Are you hanging out with people because they'd be offended if you didn't? That's the worst reason to maintain a friendship. Your crew should inspire and uplift you, and when you tell them your life goals, they should encourage you every step o' the way.
3. Start employing your secret talents.
Gifts you stop using (writing, teaching, designing, the list goes on…) will make you miserable over time. Your skills exist to be used and to bring joy to everyone who encounters them. They can even make a sweet side hustle.
4. Put yourself first.
Just say "no" three times this week. Try it out. "No" is the magical word you've been waiting for—don't waste a self-esteem-destroying second feeling guilty about not people-pleasing.
5. Eat food that makes you feel good.
I love a dollar menu, don't get me wrong. But how we eat is also a reflection of how we love our bodies. Are you cheaping out on yourself for no reason? Splurge on the incredibly fresh-tasting organic tomatoes. Heck—go for the second least expensive white wine on the menu the next time you go for dinner. Mini upgrades like this go a long way!
6. Quit trying to keep up with the "cool crowd."
Be honest. Who are you trying to please? I know a girl who just bought a $200 sweater to impress a new friend at work when she had a house party. No one noticed the sweater, and now she's $200 poorer. The cool crowd is an illusion because it changes constantly. Buy stuff because you need it, and/or it brings you joy—and for no other reason.
7. Stop procrastinating.
Procrastination is directly related to our feelings of self-worth. Why use delay tactics on something that will bring you good? Get busy and stop sabotaging yourself. What are you waiting for, exactly? It's never the "right time."
8. Give yourself permission to walk away.
Who do you need to leave? Change can be scary, yes—but nothing changes if nothing changes.
9. Ask for more.
People who ask, get. It's that simple. But if you don't feel deserving, you're probably not asking enough. What can you test? Asking for a favor from a friend? Asking for an overdue raise? Asking for help at work? There's strength (and results) in asking.
10. Don't blame-shift.
Who are you blaming, when you should really be being accountable to yourself? Accountability and responsibility always feel far stronger and empowering in the long term.
11. Stop believing you're not ready.
Hey, guess what? You're dying. Yep. Every day you go to bed, it's one less of your total days here on Earth. You were born ready. This is all temporary. Do the damn thing.
12. Avoid criticizing others.
It doesn't really feel good, does it? That's because we do it when we're feeling bad about ourselves. It's a reflection of us. Can you try and halt it, even for a week?
13. Remember self-compassion.
Self-compassion actually matters more than self-esteem. It's about being kind to yourself no matter what. And that means being patient, loving, and accepting of yourself even if you tick off every single one of the mistakes on this list.
Try approving of yourself a bit more. Remember what you like about yourself: "I'm good at things! I'm a decent cook! I do a badass tripod headstand! I'm not perfect in my marriage, but I'm loving and committed. I deserve good things in my life."
Notice what's going right and what feels good upon reflection, and see what happens. Then this new compassion toward the self? If you keep it up just a little, your self-esteem will take care of itself.
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!