How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem and Build Confidence
9 mins read

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem and Build Confidence

Our mental health and self-esteem are tied closely together. When we’re struggling with a mental health issue like anxiety or depression, it’s easy for negative self-talk to erode our sense of self-worth. This lack of confidence can make it challenging to work on improving our mental health and life overall.

If we don’t think we’re worth the effort, it’s much harder to convince ourselves to reach out. But the reality is that every one of us is valuable, and it’s essential that we are able recognize our inherent self-worth.

It’s not uncommon for men to struggle with low self-esteem, even for guys who are at the top of their field. A famous athlete may seem confident on the court, but inside, he could be suffering from the same self-doubt that plagues the rest of us. External factors like money and fame do not translate to high self-esteem, as our sense of self-worth is very personal and subjective. The good news is this means our self-esteem is something we can work on to improve.

Building up our self-esteem is a gradual process, but getting to a place where we feel more confident, capable, and resilient is totally possible. In this article, we’ll explore actionable tips to help us boost our self-worth and show ourselves that we’re worth fighting for.

1. Practice Positive Self-Talk

When it comes to self-esteem, we can be our own worst enemy. Our self-talk is the constant stream of thoughts we have about ourselves. Our mental health can greatly influence the direction of our self-talk to be either positive or negative, and in turn, that self-talk will influence our mental health.

Having negative self-talk is like dealing with a bully who doesn’t believe in you and is constantly telling you how bad you are. It’s exhausting and it can really wear down our confidence regardless of how well any aspects of our lives are going.

It’s important to pay attention to our self-talk and replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. This means treating ourselves with the same kind of encouragement and compassion that we would treat a friend with.

Here are some ways to use positive affirmations to better build our confidence.

Positive thoughts

  • ‘I am capable of handling tough situations.’
  • ‘I’ve successfully faced challenges before and can do it again.’
  • ‘I am deserving of happiness, love, and respect.’
  • ‘I am strong and resilient. I can get through this.’

Being grateful

  • ‘I am grateful for the good things in my life.’

Giving ourselves credit

  • ‘I don’t need to compare myself to others. I am proud of myself and my abilities.’
  • ‘I am valuable just the way I am.’
  • ‘I don’t have to be perfect to have worth.’
  • ‘I didn’t get everything on my to-do list done, but I worked on it and made progress.’

Acknowledging good things

  • ‘Today was a good day.’
  • ‘That was a really fun event.’

Some guys find it helpful to write down positive affirmations like those above. You can pick a few that resonate with you to think about at the start of each day or whenever your confidence begins to waver.

Our page on Negative Thinking can help you work on further ways to identify and manage negative thoughts.

2. Take Care of Your Physical Health and Your Appearance

When we put more effort to look after ourselves, we end up feeling greater self-worth, and the more worthy we feel, the more we want to look after ourselves. It’s a great positive feedback loop.

Three essential areas to focus on are:

These three areas feed into each other, and making progress in one can help the others.

Wearing clothes we like, combing our hair, and shaving or trimming how we like can also make us feel good about ourselves, and in turn boost our confidence and self-esteem.

Check out our article about the importance of basic self-care and tips to help us feel more confident.

3. Recognize Your Strengths

It’s not uncommon for guys to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We often weigh our personal achievements and accomplishments against those of others around us or online.

Rather than fixating on these comparisons, which can really harm our self-esteem and overall well-being, we should try to focus on what really matters – our own unique talents, skills, and strengths.

Every guy has strengths and things he excels at. Try to make a list of your strengths and be proud of them. These strengths can be anything from being a good listener, having a strong work ethic, being kind toward others and generous with your time, or having particular skills (e.g., woodworking, cooking, or fixing cars).

Don’t underestimate the value of aptitudes and strengths that help you feel like a good person and which contribute to helping others around you feel good as well (e.g., kindness, open-mindedness, curious, generous, honest). These strengths also help those around you feel better about themselves too.

Do something you’re good at

When we do something we’re good at, it can boost our self-esteem and make us feel a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s playing a sport, painting or playing an instrument, focus on your strengths and enjoy the activity, while challenging yourself to refine your talents.

4. Define Your “Good Enough”

It’s important to define for ourselves important values and principles that shape our sense of selves as “good enough” and how we engage with the world around us, guiding our decisions and actions. Whether it’s honesty or compassion, staying true to our beliefs helps cultivate a strong sense of self and reinforces self-esteem.

For example, you may define being kind to others as an important value for yourself and see it as a characteristic of being a good person. As you act in a kind way, you manifest kindness and thus feel good about being a kind person.

Set personal boundaries

When we set and maintain healthy boundaries for ourselves, we not only align with our principles, but also assert our “good enough” selves and gain respect from others.

This could mean living according to your faith or saying no to participating in things that make you feel uncomfortable or don’t align with your values.

For example, if you are taking a break from drinking, try not to let your buddies convince you to have a beer. Whatever the decision or belief you have, if it’s important to you, it’s important for your actions to match that.

5. Keep a Journal

Writing down our thoughts and feelings can help us understand our self-talk and identify any negative thinking patterns. Journaling can also help us remember and look back at all the things we’ve achieved or make us feel good about ourselves. It can remind us of our strengths when we’re feeling low and also serve as a way to work through challenges and issues.

Some things we can do when journaling include:

  1. Celebrate our achievements and progress
  2. Reflect on our emotions and thoughts
  3. Track our personal growth
  4. Express gratitude
  5. Express positive affirmations
  6. Focus on our strengths

How to get started with journalling.

6. Surround Yourself with Positivity

If we’re surrounded by negative people who criticize or put us down, it can be challenging to maintain healthy self-esteem. Try to surround yourself with positive, supportive people who encourage and lift you up.

Cut ties with people who consistently bring you down by pointing out your flaws, making fun of you, or filling you with self-doubt. You deserve better.

7. Seek additional support

If you have been struggling with low self-esteem for a while and you’ve not been able to get to the point where you truly like yourself, it’s important to seek professional support.

According to the Founder of HeadsUpGuys, Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, who is a world renowned psychotherapy clinician, researcher, and educator, low self-esteem is by far the most common issue that people struggle with, underlying a huge proportion of the mental health challenges that guys struggle with.

There is no shame in seeking professional support and getting ourselves the help we deserve. Trained and experienced professionals can help you work through your feelings, develop healthy coping strategies, and build self-esteem.

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