How to improve self-esteem over the years

The perception that a person has of him or herself forms his or her self-concept, while self-esteem is the assessment one makes of one's self-concept, whether positive or negative. That is to say, self-concept is the reference and the basis on which self-esteem is built.


14 November 2019


We have the ability to interpret what we are and what we are worth and depending on how we do it, we will move into the future with greater or lesser psychological well-being.

Learning to accept yourself

Knowing and accepting ourselves implies the idea of “being friends with ourselves”, of treating ourselves with respect, recognising our worth even though we are not perfect. That is, accepting our own abilities and recognising failures and weaknesses without feeling devalued.

Albert Ellis, psychologist and creator of the REBT (Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy), says that “self-acceptance refers to the individual accepting him or herself fully and unconditionally, whether or not one behaves intelligently, correctly or incorrectly, and whether others will or will not approve, or give their respect and love.”

When we let situations determine our own evaluations, we act as a barrier between ourselves and our own emotional well-being. Accepting and loving oneself often requires a change in the way one thinks and interprets situations.

These changes involve being aware of the negative judgments we make about ourselves, to “let them pass”, and being able to forgive ourselves about what has happened, with an attitude of understanding and change.

To achieve this, one must be able to accept one's own imperfections, controlling the tendency toward perfectionism, as well as ceasing to compare oneself to others and taking risks and managing uncertainty properly. This means validating and accepting one's own emotions in each situation.

 Caring about self-esteem

Good self-esteem is not achieved through professional achievements, the admiration of others or a good social status. These things help you feel good at certain times, but these transient emotional states are not the basis of self-esteem.

Instead, living by reconciling the outside world with our inner world, respecting our goals and those of others, from a powerful approach based on ethical and moral values, is the way to achieve a self-evaluation that provides the strength to face life and provide well-being.

Self-determination in taking on life's  responsibilities, respecting commitments, being consistent with what we say and do, and carrying out actions to achieve goals, will make us respect ourselves as the authors of our own lives.

These attitudes are more difficult to maintain in the face of personal mistakes or failures. That is when we tend toward excessive self-criticism, which usually comes about from self demands and hypersensitivity to the criticism of others, whether real or imagined.

In order to deal with self-criticism it is important to have the ability to forgive oneself and in psychology this is called self-compassion. It means being understanding and supporting of oneself, not judging and condemning oneself, as one would do with a loved one who was in the same situation.

Treating ourselves with respect, being willing to be who we are and defending our goals, values and feelings, provides us with personal balance, as well as with our world.

Indicators of low self-esteem

1. Feeling anxious or nervous often.

2. Focussing on personal weaknesses and very little on strengths.

3. Frequent fear of rejection from others.

4. FLack of general confidence, especially in social situations.

5. Seeing others as “superior" and aspiring to be like them.

6. Needing the approval of others to feel good.

7. Attributing achievements to external causes and failures to internal causes.

8. Having difficulty in taking the initiative.

9. Feeling evaluated in social situations.

10. Difficulty in making decisions, delegating other life issues.

How to forgive orselves

Self compassion has to do with responsibility, without unnecessary suffering and moving away from victimhood. The basic components are:

1. Self love instead of self-criticism. Being understanding of oneself in the face of difficulties, accepting the facts.

2. Shared humanity instead of isolation. Recognising and assuming that imperfection is typical of human experience.

3. Full attention instead of overidentification. Observing one's thoughts and emotions without letting them carry us away, adopting an objective attitude.