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SEL Series – Feeling Low

Tips for Boosting your Self-Esteem

I remember hating Valentine’s Day when I was in high school.


All the cool girls would receive candy grams and carnations from their secret admirers. As much as I tried to play it off, I sulked all day. My mother tried her best every year to pick up my spirits by giving my siblings and I cards and candy. I appreciated her kind gestures, but I thought “she is my mom, she loves me no matter what”. However, as the years passed and I learned to deal with my Valentine’s day blues, I finally learned how to help myself feel better when my self-esteem was low.

Here are some tips to raise your self-esteem:

Be with people who treat you well. Dejanelle is and was an awesome friend to me in high school, she was funny caring and witty. I was always comfortable around her and she didn’t tear me down.  I learned to choose friends who helped me feel good about myself. It is important to avoid people who tear you down. Find people that you can be yourself with. Be that type of friend for others.

Say helpful things to yourself. I would make myself dizzy comparing myself to the other girls in my class. The voice in my head was critical, “she is thinner and cuter than me,” I would think as I looked at so many of the girls in my class.  I will be honest, it took years of practice to get to a point where I became less critical of myself. I learned that my only competition is with myself. What I mean by this, is that instead of looking outwards and comparing myself to other people, I began to focus on my own goals and the attributes I loved most about myself. I decided to commit to loving myself fully and being my best self. This ultimately helped to cultivate a kinder voice in my mind, and I also became so much more confident and optimistic when I realized just how amazing I am. No one else can be you- shine bright and realize that your uniqueness is just what sets you apart in the best of ways. I suggest for you write down some of the things you like about yourself. Look over your list and embrace your uniqueness!

Accept what’s not perfect. Aiming to do the best you can should always be your target. However, striving for perfection will leave you feeling less than.  Your best does not have to be perfect- in fact no one’s is. Giving your best means putting in effort and having grace with yourself when you fall short. Accept your best. Feel good about that and embrace it.  

Set goals and work toward them. If you want to feel good about yourself do things that are good for you. I learned how to play tennis and I love it. I set a goal and stuck with my plan to continue to take classes. Once you make a goal, stick to it. While it may be challenging, ultimately, you will experience pride from sticking it out and getting to see all that you’ve accomplished. Say to yourself, “I’ve been following my plan to work out every day for 45 minutes. I feel good about it. I know I can keep it up.”

Focus on what goes well. While it is important to discuss the problems we are having, it is equally important to not get stuck in them. Sometimes, we think or talk about problems so much that they begin to consume us.  It’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong. But unless you balance it with what’s good, it just makes you feel bad. Next time, catch yourself when you complain about yourself or your day. Then, make a point to find 3-5 things that went well or that you are grateful for. Ultimately, expressing gratitude for what goes right in our lives can help us to feel that the glass is “half full” even when things are particularly stressful or difficult.

Help someone else out. Giving is one the best ways to build self-esteem. Tutor a classmate, help clean up your neighborhood, walk for a good cause, help out at home or at school. Make it a habit to be kind and fair. Do things that make you proud of the kind of person you are. When you do things that make a difference (even a small one) your self-esteem will go up!


Tiana Brown is the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority Learning Centers


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