In one of the forums I write for, someone approached me with the following question:

As someone with high confidence, but low self-esteem, what is the best way to approach increasing my self-esteem to match my confidence?

Here are the steps I encouraged this person to take, and I share them this month because I believe we can all use a refresher from time to time in building esteem for ourselves.

  • Watch your self-talk for a week, and notice the running commentary. If your esteem is low, that voice in your head is likely critical. Change it to be encouraging, as in: “great job on that project,” or “you were really kind to that person,” or “you have done enough for today, time to relax.”
  • Keep your agreements with yourself the way you do with others. This one was personal to me. I noticed that I ALWAYS kept promises made to others – family, friends, colleagues, clients. But I fudged on promises to myself – things like keeping Fridays open for a long weekend – and then agreeing to meet with a client, “just this once.” Or on putting money in my retirement account every month. When we don’t keep our agreements with ourselves, we lose credibility with ourselves, and this erodes esteem.
  • Keep a list of daily accomplishments – you likely achieve more than you give yourself credit for.
  • Keep a kudos file – a place where you stash thank-you notes for making a difference, a job well done, a note to yourself about something great you did but others might not know about. On days when you wonder if what you do matters (we all have those) read through your kudos file and let the good feelings wash over you. I still have student letters from 20 years ago – those heartfelt thank yous lift me every time I read them.
  • If you enjoy reading, read Nathanial Brandon’s and Robert Anthony’s books on confidence and esteem. They are both excellent.
    Remember that we all strive for perfection and none of us makes it, and be accepting of wherever you are on any given day. Thankfully, we get a fresh chance to improve every day.

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