13 Simple Ways to Boost your Self-esteem as an Adult

Self-esteem is essential for a good life. If you have good self-esteem you are less likely to be affected by failure, criticism, and mistakes. This will increase your chances of succeeding in life. It also affects your happiness level and determines the quality of your life. Therefore, building self-esteem is the first step to a better life.

Those with low self-esteem tend to feel that they are unsuccessful even after great achievements. A person could be making 10 million dollars a year and still feel it’s not enough.

how to build self-esteem as an adult

So what is self-esteem anyway?

Self-esteem is a measure of how worthy you feel as a person. People with healthy self-esteem value themselves as human beings. They do not need external verification from others. Even when they make a mistake they don’t feel unworthy.


According to Nathaniel Branden; the world’s foremost expert on self-esteem; it boils down to the following factors.

1. Self-efficacy

This means you can think for yourself and make decisions for yourself. No matter what comes your way, you take charge and handle it. People with healthy self-esteem do not blame other people or situations for their problems. They take it upon themselves to find a solution.

2. Self-respect

This boils down to whether or not you believe you matter. Regardless of your success or failure, strength or weakness, you believe that you are valuable as a human being. It does not mean that you are more valuable than other people. But you need to understand that you are not less valuable either.

What determines self-esteem

The root cause of self-esteem is the way you think. They are the unconscious habit patterns that you have developed along the way. However, some external factors influence these patterns.

1. How do you measure up to your same-sex parent

If you are doing better than your same-sex parent you are likely to have good self-esteem. On the other hand, if your same-sex parent was a millionaire and you only manage to earn a few hundred thousand you are likely to have low self-esteem. This is because of our unconscious tendency to compare ourself with our same-sex parent.

2. How you measure up to your peer group

Your peers are usually people of same-sex, age, location, etc. Basically the people you grew up with. If you are doing better than them you are likely to have a healthy level of self-esteem. If by chance one of your friends becomes a millionaire you are likely to feel unworthy.

3. What kind of love you received as a child

Some people love their children unconditionally. Others have a list of conditions and expectations that have to be full-filled before they get to feel loved.


If you were rejected when you made a mistake in your childhood you are likely to have low self-esteem. On the other hand, if your parents helped you overcome your mistake lovingly you are likely to have a healthy level of self-esteem. This is why parents are encouraged to discipline their children using love rather than rejection.

Have you ever felt that you have to be the first in your class, behave better than your neighbor, etc, etc to get your parents to love you? Then you have not received that unconditional love. As a result, you may have self-esteem issues.

The good news is that these do not influence your self-esteem directly. It is the thinking pattern that you have developed as a result of these things that influence your self-esteem. So if you can alter the thinking pattern none of these external factors will have any power over you.

13 Ways to Boost your Self-esteem as an Adult

1.Rewrite your story

Take a piece of paper and write down your story. Start with your childhood and work your way up to your current position. Add your emotions and thoughts as you write. Remember this is a story not a list of events.

When you write, just write as it comes to your mind. Don’t try to edit it or make it perfect. We are trying to unravel the workings of your mind here.


When you are done take a break and then read it. This will give you a glimpse into your psyche – what kind of thoughts and feelings you associate with yourself and your life.

Now all you have to do is reframe this story. Imagine you are the hero of this story. Sure your story doesn’t sound like a hero’s story at this point. But every hero has a past in which he was not strong. Imagine that one day you will be a hero. How will the future hero in you write your story?

Make it sound good and positive. If you had negative statements like “I can’t believe I did that, It was so stupid” then, rewrite it with a positive spin to it. For example, you can rephrase that sentence as “I am glad it happened because it taught me to…”

You can repeat this exercise every week. This will help you boost your self-esteem slowly and steadily.

2. Take care of yourself

What do we take care of? They are the things that we value. So if you are not taking care of yourself you are sending your brain the message that you don’t matter. If you start taking care of yourself then that message will slowly change. The brain will start perceiving yourself as a worthwhile person. This is how taking care of yourself helps you in building self-esteem.


Each time you do this you will start to feel a little bit better about yourself. This builds Momentum and helps you achieve bigger and bolder goals.

3. Go your own way

Do you have the habit of changing your mind based on the opinion of your friends and family? If so, you are valuing the judgment of others over your own. This lowers your self-esteem. So believe in yourself and trust your own judgment. If you already know what to do, do not go and ask others for their opinion. If they offer their opinion don’t be afraid to go your own way.

Research shows that people who try to fit in have lower self-esteem than those who don’t. So apart from making your own decisions in life don’t be afraid to be different. If you like to dress differently, don’t think about what other people will think. Simple changes like this will help you boost your self-esteem.

4. Revisit your past

What was the best time of your life, the time when you felt the happiest? What were you doing? who were you with? Why were you so happy? What do you like about this time period? Answering these questions will help you realize what truly makes you happy.

Maybe the friend from school that made you happy is not around anymore. But, what about that person made you happy? Do you know any other people like that? If you don’t, try to find some people with the same qualities. Being with them will boost your happiness and eventually boost your self-esteem. If you had the best of your time when you sang karaoke with your friends, why not do it again?

If you don’t have time, make time because nothing is more important than your happiness. Simply being happy and feeling good about yourself will boost your self-esteem. It will also help you find ways to achieve your goal with less effort and time. This is because you approach it with confidence.

5. Change your language patterns

If you did the ‘rewrite your story’ exercise you have already identified some of your language patterns. You have replaced it with more positive empowering language patterns. Now it’s time to use those phrases in real life. Every time you catch yourself using your old language pattern imagine pressing the delete button. Imagine that language pattern disappearing. Now replace it with the new empowering pattern.

You will have to do this for weeks or months before this new pattern becomes your natural thinking pattern. But before that, you may find yourself using both these patterns. This is a transitional time period. When you find yourself using the positive language pattern during this time imagine increasing the volume. Then say it again in your head louder.

If you find it difficult to catch yourself using negative language patterns then start doing mindfulness meditation. It can help you be aware of them. However, this should be done with an attitude of non-judgment and forgiveness. If you are hard on yourself every time you say something negative it may do more damage than good.

Even if you can catch yourself using these language patterns without mindfulness meditation, I recommend you to do it later on. Even after you have already established a positive thinking pattern it will help you find more areas where you need improvement.

6. Take full responsibility

This is a tough pill to swallow. It’s very easy to argue against this. If someone stole all my money how is it my fault? The truth is it’s not. But if you still don’t have any money after 10 years then it’s your fault. your situation may not be your fault. Overcoming that situation is your responsibility, not anyone else’s. Your hurt is not your fault but your healing is your responsibility.

Apart from the above point, there are other advantages of thinking this way. When you blame others, you feel out of control. If you take responsibility to fix the situation instead you feel in control and it helps you boost your self-esteem. So stop the blame game and take full responsibility for your life.

7. Reclaim your values

Have a look at your values? What would you say is the most important thing in your life? If you say it’s your family but, you barely spend time with them then, you are not living your values. This not only degrades your level of happiness but also affects your self-esteem. How do you feel about people who preach one thing and then do another? Not very good? In the same way, unless you live up to your values you will not feel good about yourself.

So make a list of your values from most important to least important. And make sure you live up to it. It may not be possible to live up to your entire list of values at once. So first focus on the topmost value. When it becomes natural, adjust the next value.

8. Practice being Assertive

Be Assertive
Build self-esteem by being Assertive

Assertiveness is standing up for what is right calmly and positively. It’s right in the middle of being passive and being aggressive. People who are passive give into other people’s wishes even when they do not think that it is right. Aggressive people on the other hand try to control other people using anger, force, and aggression. Both these ways of communication are unhealthy and damaging to your well-being.

When asked to do something that you do not want to do, an assertive person will clearly say “sorry, I cannot do that”. That too without showing any weakness or aggression. The other party can give you thousands of reasons why he should but an assertive person wouldn’t budge. He knows that what he does is his choice.  He does not need an excuse. So after calmly listening to their reasoning, an assertive person would say I understand but my answer is the same. I cannot do it.

So learn to say No with confidence. Don’t justify your decisions with reasons. When you do so you are inviting more arguments. The best thing is to say no and walk away. This is how you become assertive.

9. Say thank you to compliments

Do you feel uncomfortable when someone praises you? This is a sign of low self-esteem. People with high self-esteem can accept compliments graciously. They do not deny or invalidate the complement. Neither do they exaggerate their achievements.

If you have low self-esteem saying thank you to a compliment may be uncomfortable. You might find it difficult to do it in real life. So start by visualizing someone complimenting you. Visualize yourself saying thank you in return. If your colleagues say that was a nice presentation. Just say thank you I am glad you enjoyed it.

Never go into a lecture about how hard it was, how other people also praised you etc. This happens when you have self-esteem issues as well. You see low self-esteem can have two outcomes. One is you accept that you are not worthwhile and deny compliments. The other is you develop a defense against your low self-esteem. That is you brag. This is a desperate act of convincing yourself and other people that you are actually worthwhile. Both stem from low self-esteem so stay out of both of these extremes.

10. Live with integrity

How do you feel about people who say one thing and do another thing? People, who keep breaking their promises and coming up with excuses? What about people who lie steal and cheat? I bet you do not have a good impression of them. If you ever need help from someone you trust, this person will be the last on your list. This is because no matter how much time you spend with him you cannot fully trust him.

The same thing happens with yourself. If you do not live up to your values or if you keep breaking promises, you do not feel good about yourself. This leads to self-esteem issues. So no matter how white a lie might seem, do not use it because it will hurt your self-esteem. Live up to your own values. Most importantly follow through on the promises you give yourself. Treat yourself as someone with value. Don’t be a people pleaser and sacrifice your values to make other people happy.

11. Live with purpose

A Purpose is what gives your life meaning. It makes you feel important and worthwhile. So it is not surprising that it can have a positive impact on your self-esteem. So find a cause that will excite you. It could be something simple like becoming the best parent. Or something bold like making a lasting change in the world. Working towards such goals puts everything in perspective. Small mistakes stop mattering.

12. Praise yourself

We are so good at identifying what we are doing wrong. But what about the things that we are doing right? Do we take the time to appreciate those things?

If you get an A in the exam, do you take time to appreciate your hard work or your inborn talent? I bet you don’t. This is exactly what you should start doing. Never act like your results are insignificant, a miracle, or a mistake. Such actions damage your self-esteem. Doing the opposite will increase it.

So next time you do something well make sure you celebrate it. If you see something nice, appreciate it. It might feel weird doing this at first. But continue doing it anyway. Here you are trying to get rid of your old habit of focusing on the negative and build a new habit of seeing the positive. Like any habit, this will take time and effort. Resistance will come up. You have to rise above that.

It’s not just yourself you have to appreciate. Appreciate other people too. When you see something you like about them make sure you voice it. If you can’t appreciate other people you wouldn’t be able to appreciate yourself.

13. Practice self-compassion

The journey from low self-esteem to high self-esteem is not easy. You are going to make mistakes. At these moments it is important to practice self-compassion. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. You will make mistakes. Remember people who achieved great things also made great mistakes along the way.

Don’t be so critical, overanalyze or berate yourself. Most importantly don’t give up after a few attempts. Just remember habits are hard to break. It takes months or even years at times. You are only human. Don’t expect yourself to never be wrong.

When you find yourself criticizing or simply feeling bad, acknowledge your mistake. Tell yourself that you are only human. Decide to do it better next time. Visualize doing it better. And close the case. Repeat the process as much as necessary.

Final Thoughts

Boosting your self-esteem can increase the quality of your life significantly. However, the process is not easy. You can’t get it right overnight. Mistakes and setbacks are inevitable. But, if you continue your efforts, you will successfully boost your self-esteem. Never giving up is the key. Be compassionate and don’t judge yourself harshly. Forgive yourself for any setbacks. Then only will you be able to enjoy the fruits of your hard work.


Recommended Articles:

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  2.  15 Basic Signs of Insecurity | Am I Insecure?


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how to build self-esteem as an adult
how to build self-esteem as an adult

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