This time of year especially, when ads and social media depict countless images of the “perfect” holiday event, gift, outfit or family gathering, it’s easy to feel that we don’t measure up to the ideal. But no matter what the season, comparing yourself to others in any way can undermine your self-esteem. Determining your self-worth based on other people can thwart your ambition, make you feel disconnected, and even send you plummeting into the blues. If you find yourself frequently feeling that you’re not “good enough,” it could be a sign that you need to quit the comparison habit and reprogram your thinking about your self-worth.
Tips for better self-esteem
Let go of perfectionism. Instead, strive to achieve your personal best. Remind yourself that not everyone or every situation is truly “perfect.” Everyone has their own issues and insecurities, but not everyone reveals them.
Be realistic. Is rising to the top of your company or the top of a mountain in some exotic location really something that you can reasonably achieve? If so, gather more information on what it might take to get there, what resources you need, and the steps and timeline. Perhaps what you really want to is to identify a challenge that gives you a personal feeling of accomplishment. Figure out your very own “peak” you want to climb, which may not be what someone else strives for.
Write down the plusses in your life and express gratitude daily. Think small. Did it make you happy to share a cup of tea with your co-worker? Have a snuggle with Fido? Start an interesting new project at work? Had a great conversation with a long lost friend? Writing down as many things–big, small and in between–that you are grateful for each day has been shown to reduce social comparisons, envy, and resentment and increase self-esteem.
Enjoy the present moment. Tell yourself that life is not a competition, but provides opportunities at every moment to enjoy, learn and grow.
Take an inventory of your strengths and pleasures and nurture them. Maybe baking the perfect pie or scoring the best concert tickets isn’t your thing or is out of reach. Maybe what gives you pleasure is snapping photos on your nature walk, tinkering on a woodworking project or sharing your thoughts about the latest novel with a book club. Do more of these activities, more often!
Practice positive self-talk. Say to yourself, “I refuse to put myself down, I am just different from (a certain person). I have my own unique qualities—and so do they.”
Cultivate relationships with non-competitive people. It’s difficult to feel a connection, sense of well-being, and mutual appreciation with those who are constantly bragging about what they have or do.
Focus on the things you can change. You may have lost income, a loved one, or had an unexpected illness—all things that can damage your confidence and outlook. Try to focus on actions that move you forward, even in some small way.
Exercise! Any type of physical movement can build your self-esteem. For one thing, exercising stokes up the feel-good brain hormones that lift your mood. If you start with small goals, say walking around the neighborhood, and stay with a regular walking regime, for example, you’ll feel physically and mentally stronger. Your personal outlook will change and worrying about what others do or think will shrink into the background.
For Health Advocate members
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and feel depressed or want help with self-esteem issues, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
- If you’re Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.