How I Improved My Self-Esteem - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


How I Improved My Self-Esteem

My journey, and the six steps that changed my life.


Like most people, I still blush when praised for the work I’ve done. It’s the last remnant from before my transformation.

Thing is, I was always way too modest to give myself much credit. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I started wondering why, and doing some research. I learned that this modesty affected my level of self-esteem. In order to feel better about myself, more confident and capable, I needed to love myself more — and give myself more credit. I needed to be stronger, stand tall, and be genuinely confident.

But how?

The ensuing transformation I pushed myself through has dramatically changed my life and lowered my anxiety. Self-esteem is an upward or downward spiral. What you do affects the way you feel. How you feel affects the things you do. The things you do affect what you and others think of you, which in turn, affects how you feel about yourself.

Here are the six actionable steps that were critical to getting on the right path:

How I Improved My Self-Esteem

Getting Rid Of The Weeds

One of the biggest realizations I had during my transformation was that I cared too much about the opinions of others. I would dwell on the rare person who was mean to me when I should have been focusing on all the positive people around me. I always wanted to know WHY?

I’ll never have a real answer to that question, so why worry about it?

I’ve since learned that the healthiest response to this is to cut those people out of my life and to recognize that I’ll never have a real answer to that question, so why worry about it? Maybe I remind them of someone they dislike, or a girl that snubbed them in high school, or the guy they like said something flattering about me, or they’re just plain crazy. Who knows and who cares?? There are billions of people in the world, and there’s no longer space for the nasty ones on my radar.

Here’s what I did: I made a decision to focus on the positive people and forget the negative ones. First, I distanced myself from people who had been consistently critical of me. I’m not talking about friends who are genuinely trying to help and give constructive advice, but the ones who feel the consistent need to voice their opinion about things I can’t (or shouldn’t need to) change, even though it’s not helpful.

By cutting the negative people out of my life, I was able to gain a better perspective of who I was. I was my own worst critic and didn’t need more people trying to bring me down. Secondly, I made an effort to surround myself with people who inspired me and immersed myself in good audiobooks, inspirational articles, affirmations of my self-worth, and things that gave me hope.

How I Improved My Self-Esteem

Take Credit Where Credit is Due

I grew up in Canada where modesty is ingrained in the culture. And modesty –in moderation– is a good thing, for sure. But for many people, being way-overly-modest is a reflection of their low self-esteem. Don’t get me wrong: people who boast and have a big ego also do so out of insecurity. It’s just a different way of manifesting it. It’s the people who can take a compliment gracefully and confidently talk about their accomplishments when asked, without over-stating or bragging, that have the most healthy self-esteem.

To break the cycle of modesty, I started with writing a list of the things I’d accomplished and the things about my personality that I was proud of. I would re-read it daily, and re-write it weekly. This engrained it into my head and when others complimented me on these things, I no longer felt the need to minimize their compliment by saying something self-deprecating. Instead, I simply say Thank You and catalog the complement in the “I must be doing something right” column in my brain.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 160 Comments

  1. For me, doing things you've never done is the best way to boost self-esteem. If you always do what you've done, then you 'll be familiar or you'll be aware of the results. So nothing new, nothing exciting is about to happen. But if you dare try doing something new, something very strange or unfamiliar and you get excellent or positive results, then you'll have that confidence that you never had.

  2. Gabrielle Williams

    This article does a good job in defining self-esteem and steps to improve it. I especially like the mention of the spiral: actions-feelings-beliefs. But to have a sustainable high level of self-esteem I think one has to acknowledge the role of the subconscious mind and dig deeper, using hypnosis programs and the like. to gain a more permanent improvement.

  3. Jen Garcia

    “People put you down enough you start to believe…..”
    “The bad stuff is easier to believe….”

    These are my favorite lines from Julia Roberts’ movie “Pretty Woman.”

    Whether we admit it or not, we are easily influenced by what other people say and the sad thing is we choose to be affected by the negative comments rather than the positive ones. I personally believe that loving and believing in yourself, potentials and capabilities can help you combat all these “negative energies” and you’ll be on your way to have a great self-esteem!

  4. Courtney Watson

    WE cannot please everybody because other people will always have something to say. And thinking about how they will react or think about what we do will just lower our self-esteem. Stop thinking about them!

  5. Hannah Mayers

    For me, respecting yourself is the best way to overhaul self-esteem. If you have self-respect, you will be totally happy and will be able to be free with all those negative energy which are pulling you down!

  6. Jen Spillane

    “Getting rid of the weeds” is the first step! Get away with people who bring and give you negative energy. Constructive criticisms are good and healthy, but there are criticisms which are not really good. I think it depends on how people say it to you. Most of the time, people who would want to bring us down and lower our self-esteem “pretend” to be our friend and it will be hard for us to discover and get rid of these “weeds.” But my belief is, once you discover these “weeds,” get RID OFF THEM IMMEDIATELY!

  7. I agree that doing great things will help with self-esteem. Trying to do something productive or nice (even if you start small) can help increase your feeling of self-worth because it will give you a tangible thing to feel good about.

  8. Randie Cadiogan

    Whatever you do, whatever you achieve, there will always be people who will try to bring you down that will make you feel insecure and unsuccessful.

    I used to live thinking what society will think or how society will react. But I realized that no matter what I do, I cannot please everybody. So what I did is stay away from people who are constantly reacting negatively and join with people who are full of positivism and optimism. And that boosted my self-esteem.

  9. Everyone has some sort of self esteem issue, it's apart of life. Women especially struggles with accepting their physical appearances. I don't want to blame society, but it has a lot to do with the way we view appearances. We have control over our own thoughts and feelings towards ourselves,,so it is up to you to get rid of insecurities. I do believe surrounding yourself around positive people will help, they'll bring the best out of you and make you truly happy.

  10. Arabella Clarington

    Your self esteem is really up to you. Change the way you view yourself by changing a few other things in your life.The things mentioned in the article are really good tips on how to give your self esteem a strong and big boost! 🙂 

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