How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem

May 30, 2012 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

In trying to deal with low self-esteem, focus on the positive. When doing that, we feel more positive, happier and self-assured, right? Our self-esteem is heightened when we are in a positive state of mind.

Let's consider why it's been difficult to overcome low self-esteem. The likelihood is that past events or a current trigger has left your self-esteem low, which contributes to your current state of mind, which for many of us can be negative.

The roots of your low self-esteem are not to be ignored, but for the purpose of moving into a happier mindset, let’s focus on the feelings you want to obtain today; happiness and higher self-esteem. By proactively shifting some of your negative behaviors and thoughts in the moment, you can increase your self-esteem tremendously and start to overcome low self-esteem.

Low Self-Esteem Doesn't Have to Overcome You

Here are some things to remember when your low self-esteem is really kicking you around.

Don't "Should" on Yourself

The first step in dealing with low self-esteem is to recognize the negative statements you are telling yourself.

  • I should have…
  • If only I would have…

Powerful ways to deal with and overcome low self-esteem.These “-ould statements” are unproductive. They build up and make it difficult to overcome your low self-esteem (we all tend to go to this place on occasion, myself included). My suggestion: don’t should on yourself! This is not the way to deal with low self-esteem. This gets you looped into the low self-esteem cycle of thinking. Instead, focus on what you can do and move forward into positive thoughts. When you catch yourself “shoulding,” rephrase it to:

  • “I am going to” or
  • “Next time I will.”

Give yourself a break and focus on what you can do next time, not what happened in the past.

Put Yourself First with Self-Care

It may not seem like it, but self-care is an important step in overcoming low self-esteem. Self-care is a gentle reminder that you deserve to feel good and produces positive feelings inward, which radiates outward.

Going to the gym, eating a healthy meal, watching that show that makes you laugh are examples of self-care. For me, self-care is taking time away from technology, taking a bubble bat or watching Modern Family while enjoying some ice cream. These are ways I support my body and my mind in feeling my best and they allow me to shift my focus into a positive mindset.

Get Out of Your Head

I know this can be difficult, but often times you have to change your surroundings or your current situation to shift your negative self-talk into a more positive conversation. My suggestion: get out of your head. I often times have to leave my desk, go on a walk, listen to music, call a good friend, meditate, or read something, but I don’t let my mood take over, I distract with loving, proactive activities.

Find out what activities help to increase your self-esteem and share them in the comments below. By you sharing your tools for dealing with and overcoming low self-esteem, you are helping others to find new methods for increasing their self-esteem.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2012, May 30). How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Aileen R
April, 22 2018 at 10:26 am

Being a 52 year old woman I have had low
self-esteem all my life. I have known where some of it has come from. Reading your article has help me add to the list.
Low self-esteem has only increased over time. But it’s time I be good to me and fix it so I can enjoy the rest of my life for “ME”.
I went through a divorce 12 years ago and a very good friend helped me through it. She taught me that you need to do something good for “YOU” everyday. Wheather it be taking a walk, eating a special chocolate, drinking a cup a tea, sitting outside and enjoying the weather and birds singing etc. I have taken that advice and spread it to others. I have used it many times.
Learning today that I have a deeper list of culprits I am going to overcome this, love myself first and win. I am a person that feels good when I help others. I’m going to be working on helping myself first today.
Your articles and advice is my first step to working on my self-esteem issues. I thank you.
Be good to yourself.

Kathi H
December, 17 2017 at 11:32 am

I have had self esteem problems ever since I can remember. I think it stems from knowing but not knowing that I have Asperger's syndrome. I struggle to get by in a weird world that I only partially understand. My true self knows that I am a whole, wonderful, and worthy person, but my alcoholic "disease brain" tells me that I am not. I pray a lot, work my recovery program, and look for positive affirmations on Pinterest and other places to help my true self thrive. Nobody should feel unworthy or like a mistake. God does not make junk!
Love to all!

May, 29 2016 at 4:45 pm

I have come to notice how much my ego wants revenge for every person that ever picked on me, every person that every treated me unfairly. However I can't get myself to do such a thing because that's not my true being. However in part the pain and hurtful memories remain in some form though they're starting to dissipate I want them gone forever. I still find that i'm hard on myself more than anyone else. The anger hasn't completely dissolved though i've meditated and have successfully emptied my mind of thought. I had went the path of spirituality in order to understand myself and came to the conclusion that I couldn't hide in the closet anymore i was lying to everyone for 11 years. I was Bisexual and that's who I am, not to mention I also have Asperger's and have had so much to completely overcome without much help from others. My life has been one of great struggle as i've enjoyed certain friends of mine whilst others i never got the chance to completely know. Throughout my life I can't say i've ever been completely happy. Others live such an easy life from childhood onward & don't even know the meaning of struggle. They grow up with both parents together and a sibling or two to help them. I didn't have that, in fact my father has bipolar disorder & I do have a half brother but don't know him that well. Perhaps my life has been for naught & worthless. What do I know. I still don't get how one of my friends who has been through worse than I can truly let go of such experiences and move on. I see a therapist weekly but nonetheless i've always been the type to keep things to myself.
Sometimes I feel like Magneto from X-Men, misunderstood and coping with pain through persistence

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 30 2016 at 1:07 pm

Chris, thank you for your comment, so many of us can relate. It's okay to be angry and feel that life has been unfair to you. It sucks that other people don't understand your experience and finding compassion for yourself and others will help you feel freer from these thoughts. I know it seems like everyone has it better but that's another way our ego messes with us. Everyone has a struggle and a story. Many act or appear like "life's perfect" but in my new video I even discuss how self-esteem has been hard for me too. You've inspired me to talk more about my struggles so that others can see that I too am not perfect and that we can overcome the bullies and the BS that life has thrown our way. You are a very strong and important person. Let's see what advice your therapist has for finding more compassion and let me know how I can help you.
Take Good Care,

March, 20 2016 at 12:37 pm

for a while now I've been having this low self-esteem. I don't believe in myself but now I am willing to focus on getting help.

December, 2 2015 at 10:03 pm

Self-esteem can make or break or break satisfaction in your life. The effort to build up your self esteem is accomplished only by your desire to do so, yet that can be so overwhelming you can defeat yourself before you even start. Never give up! At 62 I continue to fight. None of us will ever be perfect but with determination we can learn to like ourselves. Really!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 7 2015 at 10:16 am

Hi Rebecca! Thanks for writing and I love your enthusiasm. Imperfection is the most amazing feeling, when we allow ourselves to realize that no one is perfect. Keep up the good work you're amazing!
Take Good Care,

September, 29 2015 at 4:51 pm

I love this advice on how to tackle low self esteem. it has really weighed me down and tormented my life. Thanks for this article.

July, 16 2015 at 2:04 am


April, 17 2015 at 5:40 pm

Dealing with low- self- esteem is never easy; but I learn to deal with it because it was something we never talked about in our household. But as of now being of a positive mindset does help, but u have to stick to it - it doesn't happen over night.

February, 3 2015 at 3:47 am

this site is really great and educative for people like me...i learn to focus on my strength while i try to manage my weakness. sometimes its really difficult for me especially when am to face people to make presentations or read report at my work place and all, i feel like there is a spirit in me that springs up and take a whole of my body that am no longer in control of myself and as a result my mouth and legs and hands become timid and i even forget what am supposed to situation has gotten bad to that extent.sometimes i wish its a disease that i need to seek medical care for...i feel great for sharing and i hope to get help from different sources to help me manage the situation. thanks

November, 17 2014 at 8:00 am

I suffered from very low self-esteem after I gained a lot of weight after my first was born. It put a lot of strain on my marriage and my career and I did not know how deal with my issues. Then my sister got me Julianna Gauthier's book on improving your self-esteem. I was sceptical and negative about it first, but Julianna’s advice changed my whole life! It restored my sense of self-worth and today I am happier, healthier (yes… I overcame my weight problem as well!) and more successful than I ever was before. I agree with everything Wolfgang said. It is so important to restore your sense of self-worth.
If you are looking for Julianna’s book, I think you can find it here

October, 25 2014 at 1:08 am

Getting out of your head is great and all, but at what point are you just distracting yourself from what you truly feel deep down inside? I can distract myself all day, for hours and hours but when I sit down to do my makeup, all of those distractions are completely gone and I see my face and the cycle starts from square one. Ugly, imperfections, how could he possibly look at air brushed porn stars and then look at me and feel attracted? I feel disgusting.

October, 12 2014 at 2:19 am

getting out of your head is mind blowing ever.To change your surrounding is essential to get rid of boring and stressful routines

August, 8 2014 at 1:47 pm

Something that really helped me was volunteering at my local animal shelter. Walking the dogs forces me to get outside for some exercise and the animals are so loving and excited to see you; its an instant mood booster. And that stays with you because you're doing something positive for them and the families who adopt them by helping care for them until they find a home.

July, 4 2014 at 10:02 am

Here are a few things that help me feel great.
1) never complain about anything, always give gratitude for what you have.
2) never complain about your job nor your coworkers, do the best you can and give some more. Don't worry about the other guy...! I feel great when I complete a job without rushing.
3) never complain about your spouse or loved ones, give them all the love and support.

March, 24 2014 at 11:52 pm

Most people face difficulties in overcoming low self esteem. Though many desired to endure the process that would help them improve their sense of self worth, only few of them succeeded in doing so. This process works gradually and requires a lot of practice, patience and determination. And enduring this might be tricky and perplexing. Because the more you struggle to fight against low self-esteem, the arduous it will be for you to get rid of your old self-provoking thoughts.

Michelle Ogwu
April, 24 2013 at 6:36 am

Put up a good attitude with others always and don't look down on yourself

October, 18 2012 at 10:56 am

The importance of a positive attitude and your frame of mind affect you and everyone around you. Thoughts are very powerful. They affect your general attitude and your attitude can affect people around you.
A positive attitude attracts people, while a negative attitude repels them. People tend to shy away from those who carry a negative attitude.
If you see people shying away from you you had better have a look at yourself.
You do not have much to lose by adopting a healthy, positive attitude. Studies show that such an attitude actually retards aging, makes you healthier, helps you develop a better stress coping mechanism, and has a very positive effect on all the people you meet every day. Start with a smile. Smiles spread.

Dr Musli Ferati
June, 9 2012 at 11:44 pm

It is absolutely necessary to install a positive and optimistic mindset, in order to improve personal inward and outward outlook. Yours suggestion in this direction are welcomed, as well as very useful contribution to achieve a satisfying impression on daily events and circumstances. It is very difficult to change the runs of thoughts, but it isn't impossible to change psycho-social milieu, that instantly introduces to modification of general emotional state. Therefore, it is advisable to practice some effective mental exercise that suddenly delivered us from feeling of low self-esteem as the main cause of many mental disorders. Eventually, it ought to have proactive and more real attitude at life problems and challenges, that are often counteracting and fallacious as well. On contrary, we would be the victim of pessimistic views, that on the other hand damage and/or decrease our lever of self-esteem.

June, 6 2012 at 4:28 am

Playing instruments, whistling, bike riding, reading, walking, running, socializing with people that will make me feel positive and avoiding the people that are full of negativity. Listening to music, fixing things that do not need to be fixed(doing tedious tasks that require all my focus help clear my head and give me a sense of accomplishment afterward). Finishing any difficult task can feel rewarding. These are some of the things that help me feel better. It's hard though, because these are all short time remedies. I feel in order to permanently raise my self esteem I need to have positive experiences to replace all the negative experiences I've had in life. No matter how hard you try convincing yourself to stay positive, if you have negative experiences, the memory of them always re-surfaces and come back to haunt you when you have your guard down.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 6 2012 at 1:02 pm

Great ideas! Thank you for sharing I appreciate your input! I think socializing with people who make you feel better is extremely important too- thanks for the reminder!
Take Good Care,

Leave a reply