We all know that self-esteem is a major indicator of our overall success and well-being, and its benefits speak for themselves. The higher our self-esteem, the more likely we are to have a better career, a loving relationship and greater sense of purpose. People with high self-esteem not only feel better but are also more resilient to failure and setbacks.
The following paragraphs will outline 6 of the most important pillars of self-esteem. They will help you stop living a life of quiet desperation and to embark on a life of meaning and purpose.
1. Practice living consciously
32,850. This the number of days we have up until the age of 90. Not too many, are they? I bet you thought there would be more. What I’ve come to learn — looking back on my life so far — is that the days can be really long, but the years…? The years just go by in the blink of an eye. Life is shorter than we think, so we have to learn to live each moment to its fullest. I know it sounds like a cliché, but if you would actually sit down for a brief moment and just observe and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things around you, you’re already halfway there. It is really that simple.
See, we often perceive the idea of “conscious living” as something unattainable that requires tremendous amounts of focus, whereas its purpose is only to create your life intentionally rather than to drift along passively. The problem, however, is that most people go through life on autopilot, not being fully immersed or engaged in their daily activities. If we want more self-esteem, we have to practice being in the moment on a consistent basis. Put simply, Pay more attention to your attention. You will be surprised how much time you’re spending on futile distractions that can easily be eliminated from your daily routine.
2. Learn the art of self-acceptance
I slightly touched upon the importance of self-acceptance in my previous blog about self-forgiveness and I will probably continue to do so in my future blogs as well. Perhaps this is because I regard our need for constant approval as one of the biggest obstacles on our path to self-actualization, or perhaps it’s because I can relate to the consequences of neglecting it from a personal perspective.
Either way, we have to learn to loosen up a bit. We need to consider that self-acceptance and happiness go hand in hand. Ask yourself this: Would you hang out with you?! Just imagine for a moment that the voice in your head is an actual person. Would you hang out with that person who constantly tries to bring you down and second-guess your every move? I bet you wouldn’t.
To adopt a more caring stance towards yourself and increase your self-esteem, you have to let go of your need to hold on to perfectionist standards. I can’t stress enough that accepting your shortcomings and being committed to a lifetime of personal growth can go together. It’s just a matter of having the right focus. In essence, learning the art of self-acceptance on an overall basis starts with applying self-compassion in day-to-day occurrences, and the most effective way to do so is by improving what you can change and accepting what you can’t.
3. Cultivate self-responsibility
Self-responsibility (or accountability) is the belief that everything that has happened to you so far is entirely the result of your actions, even when it’s not. Especially the last part is important, as self-responsible people will choose taking ownership over blaming any time. It gives them a certain sense of control based on the premise that the desired outcome is fully independent from external factors and always within their reach. You can see why cultivating such a habit will increase one’s self-esteem.
Contrarily, when we lack ownership, we lack the ability to make progress and get ahead in life. We become stuck in the vicious cycle of self-victimization, killing every possibility of accurately measuring our self-worth. So, does life happen to you or for you? Which one do you prefer?
4. Increase self-assertiveness
One of the most sustainable ways to increase your self-esteem is by becoming more self-assertive. A self-assertive individual is someone who is truly grounded in his beliefs and stands by these beliefs 100% unapologetically. It goes without saying that you need to figure out what your core beliefs are and, more importantly, why you stand so firmly by them in the first place. Also, standing by your beliefs doesn’t mean that you can go around telling other people how they should live their lives. It just means that you live what you believe in, regardless of what other people think.
To give you a personal example, I never had a drop of alcohol in my life. Ever! Growing up in an Arab culture, the “detrimental consequences” of drinking alcohol were more or less instilled in my mind from a very young age, and even though I was just a child who didn’t know any better, I could understand to a certain degree why drinking alcohol was bad.
However, it wasn’t until I developed a passion for sports and a healthy life style that my abstinence towards drinking became actually entrenched in my belief system. My passion became my reason to reject alcohol completely as part of my way of living. Be that as it may, the people around me didn’t take my abstinence too seriously and kept offering me beers and cocktails at pretty much every social occasions, always having to justify my reasons for not drinking (and sometimes even being judged for it). But it never crossed my mind once to have a little sip.
Increase your self-esteem by becoming more self-assertive. Be willing to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Be who you are and treat yourself with respect in every human encounter.
5. Live more purposefully
Prior to starting my business, I was clueless as to where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be. Of course, I had a vague sense of what it meant to be successful, but it wasn’t nearly specific enough to point me in the right direction. It was only when I sat down and asked myself some tough questions that I began to attract what I desired from life.
Unfortunately, most people go through life without ever paying attention to their thoughts. They go through their day-to-day lives, living in the same patterns over and over again, completely numbed by the crippling effect of daily routine. The truth, however, is that a significant part of our self-esteem is based on how purposefully we live our lives. In fact, the more we are driven by a purpose that navigates us towards a specific goal, the more our level of self-esteem is likely to increase.
I find it funny how living purposefully is often perceived as “too positive thinkie” by common people. More like a vague idea that requires boatloads of effort. However, living purposefully basically comes down to taking inventory of your qualities, interests and desires, and to find a way to make use of them for your own benefit and that of others. Of course, it sounds easier in theory, but it really doesn’t take that much effort. Start with a small goal that you would like to achieve and work your way up from there. If you need any help getting started, go see my blog on ‘’5 steps to create a vision and execute on your goals’’
6. Improve your personal integrity
We all like to claim that we’re sincere individuals who never cheat or lie and only tell the God-honest truth, whereas in fact we are all guilty of twisting and turning reality from time to time, probably more than we would care to admit. The problem is that although we may be able to fool those around us, we cannot fool the person in the mirror. In the majority of instances, we know exactly whether our actions are right or wrong. With this in mind, one can see why lies and deceit are possibly the easiest ways to create inner-conflict. It leaves us doubting every intention and our worthiness, thus diminishing our self-esteem.
Increasing self-esteem always starts with ourselves and ends with ourselves. Personal integrity is a perfect example of that. Integrity basically comes down to doing the right thing even when no one is watching. It’s doing what is right even if the outcome may be in your disadvantage. Practicing the skill of “doing the right thing” will strengthen your overall self-respect as you will feel more aligned with your core values. Think about this the next time you’re about to “bend” the truth…