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Having high or healthy self-esteem means that you feel good about yourself and are proud of what you can do. It can help you to think positively, deal better with stress, and boost your drive to work harder. Having high self-esteem can also make it easier to try new positive things. Before you try something new, you think, “I can do this,” and not, “This is too hard. I’ll never be able to do this.”

If you have an illness or disability, how does it affect your self-esteem? Do you find your self-esteem is affected by how you think others see you? Do people put you down or bully you? This can put your self-esteem at risk.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem manifests in different ways, including:

  • Being really critical of yourself
  • Focusing on the negatives and ignoring your accomplishments
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Not accepting any compliments that you receive
  • Negative self-talk

What Causes Low Esteem?

The first step to building up self-esteem is figuring out why it’s low in the first place. There are lots of different things that could be the cause of low self-esteem, including:

  • Loneliness
  • Poor academic performance
  • Bullying
  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Feeling like you’re the odd one out
  • Being unemployed
  • Something going on at a deeper level

Sometimes poor self-esteem can be deeply rooted and have its origins in traumatic childhood experiences such as prolonged separation from parent figures, neglect, or emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. If you think this is a particular problem for you, speak to a mental health-care professional. Therapy or counseling may enable you to talk about such experiences and to try to come to terms with them. Unfortunately, therapy or counseling may be difficult to obtain, and may not be suitable for everyone.

If you need to boost your self-esteem, consider these practical steps;

  • Ask yourself what you are really good at and enjoy doing

Everyone is good at something. When you’re feeling bad about yourself, just think, “I’m good at art” (or computers or playing an instrument or whatever you’re good at). You might make a list of your great traits and talents, too. And remember that it’s okay not to be great at everything.

  • Stop comparing yourself to others.

You are not supposed to be like anyone else. You are you. You are the only one who can be you. Your perspectives, gifts and value are exclusively yours. You are a unique expression of the divine. Revel in it! If you want something to measure yourself by, compare how you were yesterday to how you are today, and be kind.

  • Push yourself to try new positive things.

If you try something new and fail, that’s okay. Everyone fails sometime. Try to figure out what went wrong, so you can try again in a new way. Keep trying, and don’t give up. In time, you’ll figure out how to succeed.

  • Always give your best effort, and take pride in your effort.

When you accomplish a goal, celebrate over a family meal or treat yourself to a fun outing.

  • Be grateful.

You have much to be grateful for. Before you go to bed each night, write down ten things you are grateful for that day and why. This is an important step. Gratitude alone can turn things around for you. What are you grateful for right now?

  • If you need help, ask for it.

Talking to a parent, teacher, or friend can help you come up with different ways to solve a problem. This is called brainstorming. Make a list of your possible solutions. Put the ones that you think will work the best at the top. Then rehearse them ahead of time so that you’ll know exactly what you’re going to do or say when the problem comes up. If your first plan doesn’t work, then go on to Plan B. If Plan B doesn’t work, go on to Plan C, and so on.

  • Join a support forum.

Finding out how other kids deal with illnesses or disabilities can help you cope. Ask your doctor, teachers, or parents for help finding a support group in your community or online. Check out these. Make sure to get your parent’s permission first.

  • Volunteer to do something in your community.

For instance, you could tutor a younger child or take care of the plants in the community center lobby. You might also volunteer to do some chores at home.

  • Work on trying to feel good about how you look (majorly for ladies).

Everyone has some things they like and don’t like about their bodies. It pays to focus on the positives since your body image, or how you feel about your looks, can affect your self-esteem. And remember that real beauty comes from the inside! If you like makeup and clothes, ask for help dealing with any obstacles your illness or disability might present.

  • If you still find that you are not feeling good about yourself, talk to your parents, a counselor, or your doctor because you may be at risk for depression.
  • Do more of the things that you enjoy doing.

Do at least one thing that you enjoy every day, and remind yourself that you deserve it.

“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.” – Lao Tzu



Ways to Build Self Esteem, 2011, Retrieved from: www.girlshealth.gov

Neel Burton (2012); Building Confidence and Self-Esteem. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com

Tips for Building Self Esteem & Self Love! Retrieved from www.spiritwire.com

Reachout (2012); Steps to improve self-esteem. Retrieved from au.reachout.com


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