Life can be difficult. It’s even more difficult when you don’t feel like you are a competent, capable, and worthy person.
Positive self-confidence and self-esteem make it so much easier to get through the challenges of life, because you know that whatever comes, you can handle it! And if you can’t handle it alone, you’ll value yourself enough to get the help you need to get through whatever it is you face.
Positive self-worth is essential for having healthy relationships with other people. People who don’t have positive self-worth may accept bad behavior because they think they deserve to be treated poorly, disrespected, or like they can’t do better.
Improving your self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth all fall under the umbrella of feeling better about yourself in a broad sense.
Now listen, we understand that a lot of articles of this type can feel like fluffy nonsense. Maybe you feel like a bad person because you’ve done many wrong things in your life. Maybe you’re a mentally ill person who’s struggled to do things healthily. Maybe you’re a survivor of abuse who’s been thoroughly convinced by terrible people that there’s nothing good about you.
To you, we want to acknowledge that the process of correcting these perceptions and thoughts is a long and arduous road. We’re not trying to sugarcoat that. It is not something that happens overnight. And it is not something where you’ll just be leaking positivity all over the place. It’ll probably start with you just being okay with yourself. But okay is better than what you feel now.
You want to focus on small, incremental changes that eventually translate into bigger, real changes.
And “real” is the key word there. We’re not lying to ourselves about what is and is not. You have to accept and love your flaws so you can nurture and grow them into something better.
With that being said, let’s get into some of the things you can do to genuinely feel better about yourself.
1. Trust your life’s path.
Life is full of wonderful things to be experienced; art, success, learning, and love.
Life is also full of painful things; suffering, failure, ignorance, and, yes, love.
The thing to keep in mind is that every single person on this planet will experience some form of all of them. It is not something to be feared. It is not a reflection of poor character or your worth as a person.
It’s just life.
And when you accept these things as part of life, you’re able to not take them so personally.
Even if you are directly responsible for the bad thing that happened, it doesn’t matter because everyone makes wrong decisions from time to time. That’s just how it is.
Know that you will get through this, know that you can move on to something else, and don’t let yourself stop in the misery.
2. Know when to ask for help.
Some people get stuck and just wallow in their stuckness. “I’m not good enough! I’m not smart enough! Why can’t I figure this out!? I’m so stupid!”
No, you’re not. You just don’t know the answer. That doesn’t make you stupid, worthless, or less than.
No one can know everything. Frankly, it’s probably for the best that no one can know everything. That would not end well if we had to rely on one person to give us all of our answers.
But you don’t have to. Google it. Talk to a professional when applicable. Go get some help and ask questions.
Honestly, even taking the step to seek help is often enough to make you feel a little more positively about yourself.
3. Try to keep negative thinking to a minimum.
There is this strange belief that if you aren’t positive, then you must be negative. The truth of the matter is that there is a huge span between positive and negative where many people live. Things aren’t always positive or negative. Sometimes they are just a thing.
False positivity can actually be worse than negative thoughts because it causes people to ignore reality.
You’re never going to have perfectly positive thoughts. That’s an unreasonable expectation. But what you can do is try not to catastrophize and feed negative thoughts.
Instead, pull those negative thoughts apart, look for their cause, and try to frame them more neutrally. You don’t have to be positive. Just try not to be negative.
4. Do not tie your self-worth to accomplishments.
One of the most common (and bad) pieces of advice floating around about self-worth is that you should look back on past accomplishments to remind yourself of your value. Unfortunately, that advice fails to address the people who can’t meet that level of accomplishment again. In essence, they are trying to stack themselves up against an impossible goal that they may never reach again.
Your self-worth and value are not based on what you can or cannot do. If you take anything from this article, let it be that.
Regardless of how competent or able you are, you are allowed to feel good about yourself. And if you are going to tie your self-worth to your accomplishments, which you shouldn’t, make sure your goals are yours. Make sure you aren’t trying to live up to someone else’s standards, like your parents, a boss, a mentor, or whoever.
5. Do not want for much.
Desire is a strong catalyst for the pursuit of goals.
Desire is also a strong catalyst for suffering.
I want that thing; I want it so badly, but why can’t I get it? Am I not good enough? Smart enough? Wealthy enough? Connected enough? What is so wrong with me that I can’t have what I want? What is it that I want? Things? Wealth? Love? A relationship?
Desire can undermine your feelings of self-worth and confidence the longer you harbor that desire without attaining it.
And what if you never attain it? Does that mean you’re not good enough? Not at all. It just may not have been meant for you.
6. Set some goals to work toward.
An easy way to boost your momentum and self-worth is to set some goals and start working toward them. The S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Sensitive) goal system is an excellent way to set reasonable goals for you to work toward.
Now, assuming you don’t have depression or another mental health issue that prevents your reward circuits from firing correctly, accomplishing goals will give you small boosts of dopamine and other feel-good chemicals.
Accomplishing things can help you feel better in general, and better about yourself too. Set small and reasonable goals that will lead you to the bigger goals you desire.
7. Learn to not take criticism personally.
Criticism is always tough to hear. It doesn’t feel good to have other people look down on your decisions or accomplishments. But, other people are entitled to their opinion.
On the other hand, you don’t have to care about their opinion, particularly if they are criticizing you as a person and not the thing that you did.
It’s one thing to say, “Hey, you made a really bad decision.” versus “Hey, you are a bad person. That’s why you did the bad thing.”
Instead, what you want to do is consider the source of criticism, examine whether or not it may be valid, and then either use it or discard it. If you can do this, their criticism won’t impact how you feel and think about yourself. You don’t have to make everyone happy.
8. Do what is right for your life.
You are living your life. You must be the one who decides what you need out of life and then pursue it. You cannot live your life by someone else’s script and expect to feel happy and good. When you try to live up to other people’s standards, you will often fall short because those standards will often change.
People constantly move the goal-posts on what is acceptable and not, what is preferable and not. But they cease to be relevant if you just aren’t playing their game.
What do you want out of your life? What will make you feel good about yourself that you can do for yourself? Do more of those things.
9. Practice forgiveness regularly.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool for improving your self-worth and finding peace with the world.
Generally, people are messy creatures. Most want to be good and do the right thing; they’re just terrible at it. Many are trying to function through their own traumas, disappointments, terrible life experiences, and wounds that life has inflicted on them. You probably are too.
Would people really choose to do the wrong thing if they understood how much it would harm them in the future? Probably not. But they do it anyway because we don’t always think ahead or can’t always assess the harm we will cause.
People are going to make wrong decisions. You certainly will too. Forgive yourself for being human, learn from it, and decide to make a better decision in the future. Embrace bad decisions as part of the process of growth.
10. Remove negative people from your circles.
Negativity is infectious. Negative people have a problem for every solution. And if you spend enough time with these people, their perceptions will start coloring how you perceive the world and yourself. You do not want to put yourself in a position where you are constantly being worn by negativity.
Think of it like erosion. A trickle of water is nothing compared to the hard rock it’s flowing over. But when it flows over it for a long time, it’s going to wear the stone away.
Make sure the people you surround yourself with are positive or realistic people who are focused on building. We specifically point out ‘realistic’ because many negative, cynical people believe they are more realistic than optimistic people just because they choose to wallow in the negativity.
Bad stuff happens. Good stuff happens too. Bad stuff happening doesn’t invalidate the good stuff. Realistic people can acknowledge both.
11. Work on making your internal narrative kinder.
The words we use to talk to ourselves contribute to how we view ourselves. If you constantly tear yourself down in your thoughts, you’re not going to feel worthy or have good self-esteem.
Instead of those negative thoughts, try to reframe them into a more loving and positive perspective.
Instead of “I made a mistake because I’m stupid,” you would want to aim for something more like “I made a mistake because I didn’t have enough information.”
Instead of “They broke up with me because I’m not good enough,” you would say something like, “We just didn’t have the right fit. On to better things.”
Sometimes it can be as simple as, “I made a mistake because I made a mistake.” Because you’re human, and humans make mistakes. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.
12. Practice kindness toward others.
The practice of kindness is a powerful tool for improving the overall quality of your thoughts. By focusing on kindness, you push out the negative thoughts that are often trying to edge their way in. Instead, you are focusing on how you are making a worthy, positive contribution to the world.
And it’s much, much harder than inexperienced people tend to think. Why? The people who are often in the most need of kindness may be extremely unpleasant people to be around. The amount of entitlement, snarkiness, and cynicism that you’ll run into is off the charts. And for that reason, you do not want to be practicing kindness for external reward.
Focus on doing the right and kind thing because you are the type of person who does right and kind things. You choose to put good things into the world because that is the type of person you want to be. That is something you can be proud of yourself for.
Just don’t tie your self-worth to how much you can contribute to the lives of others or society as a whole. Some people can give more than others. That doesn’t make them better people.
What’s more, you likely wildly underestimate the positive impact you have on others. You may want to feel useful, like you matter in this world. Well, trust that you are more useful to the world and matter more to it than you give yourself credit for.
13. Make the effort to improve yourself.
Do you accept yourself? Do you accept your flaws? What does it mean to accept your flaws?
Well, acceptance, as per the definition from Merriam-Webster: the act of accepting something or someone: approval. And to borrow from the definition of ‘accept’ specifically: to give admittance or approval to; to endure without protest or reaction; to regard as proper, normal, or inevitable; to recognize as true.
The word “acceptance” in the mental health community is a difficult one, because it’s often used to communicate the idea that you should accept your flaws, and therefore be okay with them.
But should you?
You can look at yourself, see that you have a particular flaw, and then you need to decide to make the effort to do something about the flaw.
Your brain making you feel bad or guilty because your actions hurt another person or yourself is a good thing. That means you’re experiencing empathy and you’re able to recognize that this is a wrong action.
But what are you actually going to do about it? Why should you feel better about a wrong action that makes you feel bad without working to correct the issue that’s causing it? That’s not something you can feel good about.
What you can feel good about is the effort that you’re putting in to conduct yourself in a healthier way, make better choices, and do better things.
It’s not going to be perfect. It’s never perfect. You’ll work on your flaws, and guess what!? They will still pop up from time to time. That’s just kind of how it is. But the more you work on them, the more effort you put in to correct them, the greater control you’ll be able to exert over them.
Don’t waste your time and your life using yourself as a punching bag every time you do a wrong thing or make a bad choice. Make a better choice. Apologize for the harm caused, fix the harm caused, and commit to doing better.
That may mean seeking out additional help from a therapist, changing lifestyle habits, or doing things differently now that you know better.
Changed behavior is the best apology you can give your loved ones – and yourself. And making that choice is something you can be proud of and feel good about.
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- “I Don’t Deserve To Be Happy” – How To Overcome These Thoughts
- 14 Highly Effective Ways To Deal With Feelings Of Inadequacy
- 10 Ways To Overcome “I Don’t Matter” Thoughts And Feelings
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