Low self-esteem is seeing yourself as inadequate, unacceptable, unworthy, unlovable, and/or incompetent. These beliefs create negative, self-critical thoughts that affect your behaviour and your life choices, often lowering your self-esteem even further.
Using the tools of mindfulness, you can learn to look at situations, other people and yourself objectively, without the negative influence of the past and with the awareness that you always have a choice, says Deborah Ward. Here are 10 simple ways to overcome low-self esteem and feel more confident in yourself…
10 ways to overcome low-self esteem and be more confident
1. Live in the moment
When you are focused on the moment, you can choose your actions consciously and wisely, unaffected by the hurts of your past and unconcerned by worries or hopes about the future.
In our busy modern lifestyles, it can certainly be tricky to live in the moment. More often than not, we find ourselves distracted by a million and one different things all at once, from anxiety about an looming deadline to overthinking a conversation you had earlier that day.
Living in the moment is about learning to press pause on the constant chatter in your mind, slowing down and focusing on the sensations and experience of what is happening right now.
2. Be aware of your emotions
When we’re aware, we can recognise how we are responding and reacting to our own fears, creating a moment between our emotions and our actions.
The next time you feel doubtful or unsure of yourself, due to low-self esteem or confidence, actively recognise what it is that you are feeling. You can then choose to respond in a healthier way, rather than dwelling on it and allowing it to consume you.
3. Write your thoughts in a journal when struggling with low self-esteem
Many of our thoughts and feelings are locked in our subconscious mind and writing can help to bring them into our awareness. Writing about the way we feel and think can help to separate negative ideas about ourselves from the truth of who we really are.
If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, grab a notebook and write down exactly how you’re feeling. Try not to reread or edit at this point: simply let your thoughts flow out onto the page. Then, when you’re finished, reread through your words and notice the negative beliefs you have about yourself. Now, try to work out where those false beliefs stem from so you can break these negative thought patterns and be more confident in your true self.
4. Be non-judgemental when your self-esteem is low
Low self-esteem often arises from judging yourself far too harshly. Think back to the previous journaling exercise: if you wrote down a multitude of negative judgements about yourself, stop and think for a moment: would you be this critical of someone else? The answer is most likely no, so why would you judge yourself so harshly?
When we approach our lives non-judgementally, we simply accept ourselves, our experiences, our failures and successes and other people just as they are, neither good or bad, without pride or shame. Shifting your mindset to be less judgmental is a great way to approach low self-esteem and build your confidence.
5. Stay connected to yourself to be more confident
Mindfulness is when you focus your attention and awareness on the present moment, free from both internal and external distractions. By practicing mindfulness regularly, can help you to develop a sense of connection to yourself.
It can also help to reduce your people-pleasing ways – a common trait in those with low self-esteem – by allowing you to stop the autopilot thinking and behaviour that keeps you jumping to please others without thinking of your own needs.
6. Practice mindful meditation to overcome low self-esteem
Meditation just means letting go of the racing thoughts in your mind and accepting that those thoughts, feelings and beliefs are transient, rather than parts of yourself. Take a few moments every day to simply be still, focus on your breathing and watch your worries drift away like clouds.
If you’re not sure where to start, why not try the following mindfulness exercise:
7. Participate in your own life to be more confident
Mindfulness encourages us to become active and assertive in creating our own lives. Awareness of your thoughts and choosing your responses to them enables you to take action and participate in your own life. In turn, this will help you overcome low self-esteem and be more confident in who you are.
8. Develop a beginner’s mind
When you have a beginner’s mind, you look at things as if you are seeing them for the first time, with openness, eagerness and freedom from expectation. This changes over time, as our perception becomes clouded by our beliefs, prejudices and judgements.
By actively adopting a beginner’s mindset, you will see things in a new light, rather than automatically responding with the same old patterns of behaviour. This simple shift can then enable you to see yourself in a new light, rather than responding to yourself through a mind clouded with low-self esteem.
9. Improve low self-esteem by letting go
Non-attachment, or letting go, is the ultimate goal of mindfulness. Often, when thinking about who we should be or what we should think, we get tangled up in never-ending ‘what ifs’ as we worry about doing the ‘wrong thing’.
However, when you let go of what you think you should do or who you should be, you can begin to trust yourself and be more confident in your ability to choose what’s right for you.
10. Show compassion toward yourself
Finally, if you’re struggling with low self-esteem, remind yourself that you deserve love as much as anyone else. Self-compassion simply means providing yourself with the love, safety and acceptance you need. In turn, this can help to replace low self-esteem with a sense of confidence and self-respect.
Overcoming Low Self-Esteem with Mindfulness by Deborah Ward is available now.