Using Baby Steps to Build Self-Esteem

August 8, 2019 Britt Mahrer

Baby steps are a great way to build self-esteem. It's kind of like climbing a mountain: From the distance, we see a simple shape. It looks easy enough to climb if we just start walking uphill. Yet the closer we get, the more we realize that what looked like a basic silhouette is actually filled with valleys, cliffs, detours, and falling rocks. Suddenly, we start to question ourselves. Where do we start? How much energy will it take? What happens if we get turned around? This is when we can turn to baby steps to build self-esteem. When we measure our progress in smaller increments, we have more opportunities to reflect on our progress and make sure we are headed in the right direction. 

How to Use Baby Steps to Build Self-Esteem

Here are some things to keep in mind when using baby steps to grow self-esteem:

  1. Cut your goals in half. Whatever your step is, cut it in half. Let's say one of your goals is to think something kind about yourself every time you look in the mirror. This is a great goal, but on dark days it can be hard. This is where breaking the goal in half can be beneficial. Perhaps the first goal is simply to look in the mirror and listen to the mental dialogue that initially arises (even if it's not enjoyable). The second goal is telling yourself, "Yes, those are things that come up sometimes, but I also think I am [insert positive here]." We all have days where we can't achieve the second goal, but we can still feel a sense of accomplishment having achieved the first.
  2. Know your learning style. We all have different ways of learning and processing information. Do you know yours? If not, spend a few minutes online figuring it out. Once you know yours. tailor your baby steps to include it. For example, if you're a visual learner, have a list with steps you can cross off. If you're kinesthetic learner, get a box of blocks and create a "success" tower–add one block every step you succeed. If you're aural learner, consider having a "build self-esteem playlist." If you're verbal learner, ask someone to be your "goal buddy," who can talk to you about your accomplishments and share your success (perhaps you can do the same for them). By linking building self-esteem to your learning style, you can feel deeply satisfied with your baby steps.
  3. Build strength. Imagine you decide to learn guitar. Do you suddenly start playing 10 hours a day? Of course not. You smart small. Once your hands build up strength and skill, you can play for as long as you'd like. Keep this in mind when building self-esteem. Often when we make the decision to build self-esteem, we think we can spend hours each day on it. But it doesn't work like that–you have to build up your "self-esteem strength" just like any other skill. Creating new neuropathways in your brain takes time. Perhaps start with one baby step a day to build self-esteem. For example, let's say you're interested in losing weight. Instead of jumping into an entirely new diet, consider starting with one meal a day–perhaps for your afternoon snack, you switch from a cookie to half a cookie and a hard-boiled egg. 
  4. Chill out. Yout can't be mentally active all the time. Sometimes, you need to zone. How do you re-energize? Do you watch television? Do you have a treat? Do you enjoy Internet browsing? Downtime is just as important as your active time–you need to recharge your batteries to power your building self-esteem machine.

Try using baby steps to build your self-esteem and see if it works for you. 

APA Reference
Mahrer, B. (2019, August 8). Using Baby Steps to Build Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Britt Mahrer

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Lizanne Corbit
August, 11 2019 at 11:06 pm

I love the idea of baby steps for any work being done with mental and emotional health. Small steps toward a larger goal help it to be manageable instead of overwhelming. I think it's so great that you talk about your learning style. It's so important for us to be aware of our tendencies when it comes to areas of motivation and procrastination, or avoidance.

August, 13 2019 at 11:13 pm

Hi Lizanne, as always I appreciate the depth and thought that goes into your comments. Being aware of our tendencies is a huge part of self-discovery, one that we all benefit from exploring.

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