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6 Simple Personal Commitments to Overcome Low Self-Esteem

Dark Day

“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.”  ~Iyanla Vanzant

You’re smart, funny, and genuinely good at heart.

You have ideas that could solve many of the problems you see around you. You could regale people with interesting stories that crack them up. You could be the perfect partner, parent, or friend.

But you don’t always live up to that potential.

Something holds you back.

Something tells you that your ideas are not worth announcing in public. Something keeps you from sharing your interesting stories. Something stops you from giving all you’ve got, and taking all you need, from your closest relationships.

Even though you know that you can be so much more, deep down you have a nagging feeling that you are not worthy of greatness, accolade, pure joy, and happiness.

Low self-esteem is keeping you from living your life to the fullest.

Who Suffers More from Low Self Esteem—a Shy Person or a Gregarious One?

I’ve always been gregarious, outspoken, and very extroverted. My husband, on the other hand, is very quiet and introverted.

When I met him, I used to think he was shy and maybe lacked the confidence to speak up like I did. Fifteen years of being together has shown me how very wrong I was.

While I have always bounced back and forth between lack of confidence and overconfidence, my husband has been very even keeled. Almost unnaturally so. He doesn’t get fazed by what people say. His decisions are not dependent on what others think. He has such a deep-seated sense of self-worth that nothing seems to affect him.

Slowly, I’ve come to realize that self-esteem has nothing to do with being gregarious/extroverted or shy/introverted. It comes from a place much deeper, from within yourself.

And as a consequence, there are no quick fix solutions or magic pills that can improve self-esteem overnight.

On the other hand, if you consciously commit to conduct yourself right, no matter what the situation is, you can permanently increase your sense of self-worth.

I’ve been putting this theory to test over the past couple of years and have started noticing a much more deep-seated sense of calm within, from which a strong sense of self-worth has emerged.

Here is a list of 6 simple commitments that have made the biggest difference to me:

1. Be authentic. Drop pretenses just to please someone else.

Have you heard the quote “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”? Knowing that someday you will be “found out” is what kills the self-esteem.

Hard as it is and vulnerable as you will feel, let go of your pretenses. Just be your authentic self. At first, the fear is crippling, but if you manage to get past the initial fear and take the plunge, it is so liberating. And that freedom to be who you are without excuses or pretenses paves the way for a much healthier self-esteem.

2. Learn to say no. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Often we say yes because of the fear of authority or the fear of hurting someone’s feelings or worries that we will let someone down. But every time you say a yes that you don’t mean, you’ll end up doing a half-hearted job. And then you are unhappy that you said what you didn’t want to say, and you are unhappy that you did such a lousy job of what you said you would do.

Break out of that habit. Instead, just say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t have to be rude about it, just be firm and decisive. Developing the ability to speak your mind in a kind but firm manner, and to really deliver on your promises, will go a long way in building lasting self-esteem.

3. Grant yourself the permission to make mistakes. Vow to learn from them.

Your reaction to your failures, as much as your successes, defines you. You can beat yourself up over a failure, or you can give yourself the permission to make mistakes and vow to learn from them. Let’s face it, whichever route you take, you will still make some mistakes in your life. One approach chips away at your self-esteem, the other helps you become a better person. Choose.

4. Take responsibility for your actions.

Again, at some point or the other in your life, intentionally or accidentally, you will let others down. When that happens, quit making excuses and accept them as a consequence of your choices. Quit the regret and focus on repair.

Always be prepared to say “I’m sorry” followed by “How can I fix it?” and make sure you put in genuine effort to fix things in a way that is acceptable to everyone involved. It is a lot of effort, but a healthy self-esteem is rooted in knowing that you always do the right thing.

5. Help others.

No amount of fortune, fame, success, beauty, intelligence, or strength can give you the same sense of personal gratification or a sense of purpose as a genuine “thank you” from someone you help.

When you stop being so wrapped up in your own worries, sorrows, and melodrama and start being a part of the bigger picture, with a role to play in this universe, your sense of self-worth and self-esteem gets a whole new definition. Give freely. Help whenever you can. You will get more than what you thought you ever needed.

6. Immerse yourself in whatever you decide to do. Quit worrying about your choices.

Either do something or don’t. Stop second-guessing your choices.

For instance, if you want to make some tea, first learn how to make tea. Next gather all the ingredients you need. And then make tea. Don’t worry about whether it will come out right. Don’t worry if anyone will like it. Don’t worry about whether you are worthy of making tea. Don’t worry about coffee drinkers. Don’t worry if you will ever get to make tea again. Don’t worry about what you will do after you make tea. Just. make. tea. And when you are done, move on.

Constantly worrying about your choice as you make the tea will not do any good to you, the tea, or anyone else around you. Immerse yourself in what you do.

Your self-esteem is a measure of how worthy you think you are. Don’t look outward for affirmations. Set your own expectations of who you should be and then do all you can to live up to those expectations. You have it in you to be the person you can be proud of.

Commit to it, and go become that person!

Photo here

Profile photo of Sumitha Bhandarkar

About Sumitha Bhandarkar

Sumitha Bhandarkar is the creator of afineparent.com, a unique personal development blog exclusively for parents. If your resolutions for 2015 involves becoming a better parent, join her and the A Fine Parent community in the “I will be a positive parent in 2015” pledge + giveaway and receive support and motivation all through the year to live up to your resolution.

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  • Mark Ettensohn, PsyD

    Good advice…thanks for the great post!

  • Anees Pathoor

    Good one Sumitha. Something I really needed. Thanks a ton 🙂

  • growthguided

    How do you feel ego comes into the mix?

    I know some people use pride to boost themselves to a certain level they would have never been able to attain prior to!

    Do you feel this is building their esteem on a bad foundation? Or do you believe in the fake it till you make it approach ?

    Thank you

  • Lake

    Awesome! This is what we’ve been working on in the women’s support group that I attend. It’s a group for women who’ve suffered trauma, and right now we’re focusing on building our self-esteem. This article gave me some better insight. Thank you!

  • Katherine

    Wow. It’s almost like this was written for me personally. Rang so true, thank you. I am 37 years old and still suffer from moments of disbelief in myself. It’s only because I want to please and want people to think good of me so I try too hard sometimes; and give myself a hard time when if I fail or don’t do a good enough job. But no-one is perfect and no one expects perfection 100% of the time – this I have to keep telling myself. I am good enough. I am my own unique person. Thank you for your advice.

  • Sumitha

    You are very welcome, Mark. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Sumitha

    Katherine, I am so glad to hear that the message resonated with you. It is written from my personal experience and just as you, I am working on each of these points myself. Good luck to both of us…. let’s find the strength to keep going!

  • Sumitha

    Lake, I am glad the article was able to bring you some insight. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Wish you and all the women in your group the best — let’s keep at it, and keep getting stronger each day!

  • Sumitha

    My personal experience has been that ego relies more on external validation whereas self-esteem is more of a deep seated sense of self worth. Both can give you a boost, but the ego-based boost does not last and need to be constantly fed. On the other hand an improved sense of self-worth that is built on a strong commitment to better yourself (and not just to impress others) can be such a solace, such a place of calmness and a seat of peace. I’ve only scratched the surface, but keep my fingers crossed that I won’t get tempted to go the ego route ever again….

    Fake it to make it is a completely different thing… I do believe in that approach…. I do want to be extremely at peace with myself someday, and fake it till you make it is in one way a commitment to keep practicing even in the face of setbacks….

    Did I answer your questions? Was that what you meant?

  • Sumitha

    I’m glad the message came out at the right time for you, Anees! Thanks for stopping by to share some kind words 🙂

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Self-esteem is such a funny thing for me, so variable. I can be confident in some areas and so self-judgemental in others – like I’m pretty confident in my ability to write, less so in the value of what I have to say! Thanks for the reminder that true worth comes from deep within and can be like a calm river within us if we tune into it.

  • Sumitha

    Kathy, “True worth comes from deep within and can be like a calm river within us if we tune into it.” — beautifully said!

    I guess all of us feel different levels of confidence about how we can do different things. To me though, confidence that you are really good at something and self worth are two completely different things. In this context, self worth to me is just the deep down knowledge that “If it’s something that is really important to me, I will give it all I have — to learn and practice — without judging how good I am at it or looking to others for validation.”

  • Andrei

    Such a great article! I loved it ^^

  • April Gardner

    6. Immerse yourself in whatever you decide to do. Quit worrying about your choices.
    I need that tattoo on my face. lol

  • lv2terp

    Beautiful post!!!! I really enjoyed your message, I too had that misconception and am still working on building my self-esteem and becoming more even keeled. Your tips/advice are wonderful, thank you!!!!!! 🙂

  • growthguided

    Thank you for your response!

  • Kristen

    This post came at just the right time for me. Thank you:)

  • laurence

    love the making tea example 🙂

  • Héctor

    Thank you for sharing your insightful, helpful, and wonderful thoughts. They have inspired me.

  • Dania

    I love the way you put a voice to my feelings! I want to forward thing to everyone I know but I think they’ll just consider it spam. 😛
    Anyhow, thanks for a great read!

  • Sneha

    Wow that is the best advice I’ve read anywhere or gotten from anyone. Thank you so very much. The tea example is probably my favorite 🙂

  • Jess

    Loved the article 🙂

  • Lacey

    Just. make. tea. —awesome, really touched home. I really needed this article at this time in my life. A very shy 26yr old female, just returning to school and ready to start venturing out in the world. 🙂

  • GaBy Tan

    Thank you Sumitha, no.6 really snap at me.
    Will constantly remind myself to immerse myself and stop worry.
    People tend to put high pedestal on me, while i feel at the lowest self-esteem ever.

  • abdi

    Wonderful article. Thank you for sharing your awesome ideas. This article will help me focus my life into building a positive self-confidence.
    And am sure this six commitments will help me mend my self-confidence . Thank you once again Sumitha

  • Bonnie

    Thanks for the wonderful post, Sumitha! I agree that self-esteem comes from a very deep place. I appreciate your second point especially, “Say no.” This is something that I am learning to do. I used to feel that if I did not say yes to whatever someone asked of me, then no one would like me; talk about lack of confidence! I recently read an interesting article that discussed the different between self-worth and self-esteem, which implied that self-esteem is still a matter of judging ourselves more than we need to. I’ll share it in case you are interested: http://www.psychalive.org/self-worth/. Thanks again for this.

  • auntpatsy

    This is one of the BEST pieces I have ever read on self-esteem building. I am experiencing severe bouts of low self-worth right now and this article is going to help me so much – simple and beautiful. Loved it!!

  • A gratious reader

    Thank you so much for these healing words of advice. One needs a view from the outside to get outside of his/her own head. I smile back to you in gratitude ;D (PS, The making tea bit is what really did it for me. Writers block is a killer for me but the fear of failure is what lead to the writers block.)

  • Frances

    “…that freedom to be who you are without excuses…” Very beautiful.

  • Frances

    “An improved sense of self-worth that is built on a strong commitment to
    better yourself (and not just to impress others) can be such a solace,
    such a place of calmness and a seat of peace.” Beautiful, very comforting. Thanks Sumitha.

  • Kathleen Suneja

    Upon realizing the true self, we express the natural genius and
    open our minds to feel the flow of life energy as it courses through us. By experiencing
    the life form in its true creative genius we connect to our body, mind and
    spirit as it was meant to be. The learning from our inner experience in
    meditation allows us to know who we are. In meditation, we reevaluate life and
    are inspire ourselves to experience more fully our best selves.

  • mediacoach

    That is my challenge. I am working towards letting go but sometimes it is not easy. I do notice when I let go and just focus on enjoying myself the Universe surprises me.

  • Bogart

    Thank you! 🙂

  • still-fighting-it

    Thank you so much for this. I needed this so bad right now. It’s very nicely written, simple but effective. For so long I’ve had a tendency to beat myself up and feel stupid and ashamed for just revealing more about myself to people, and the tiniest of slip ups I made, thinking they won’t like me or see me as weird. I am pretty closed up.. It used to be even worse when I was a kid, and I’m 23 now. But I know this can’t go on forever, ’cause the internal pressure keeps getting worse. I’ve never had many friends, so I guess that’s why I’m afraid to open up, thinking it would continue when I show my true self. But I know not everyone can always like you. We all live with that. 🙂

  • Pranay Kaul

    learn to say no & live life! worthy advise

  • veronica

    I must say I wanted to bust in tears in that first 2 but after I kept reading the more it made sense and the more it made me smile. Right now the low self esteem is hurting my relationship and yesterday I was so heartbroken because my partner didn’t want to get back together and all I could think was ”no no I can’t live without her and that I knew I had a problem. All I wanted was to please her and think about her 24-7 and thinking what I could do to make her come back to. What I really need to do is work on myself. This whole time she kept telling me but I never knew what was truly wrong with me. Live and you learn. Thank you so much for this. Well spoken and great choice of words!

  • mahesh takkalwad

    hi..it seems to be so true..and life changing thoughts…i will definately try.these steps…got answers for the tones of questions which are bambarding on my mind.

  • No

    So in other words, just feel good. What tripe.

  • NO Thanks

    Ok. I can now tell this is a crappy blog with a worthless author who has no clue how to get out of his own predicament. The blind and thoroughly inept the blind worthless.

  • NO Thanks

    ^^^^^The blind and thoroughly inept tryna lead the worthless blind.

  • NO Thanks

    That’s because YOU are a worthless idiot who will eat up any useless sh it and think it good. Cos your worthlessness keeps you a no taste, no discernment person. Hey don’t blame me: I merely reflect your worthlessness, your deeper thoughts, what you attracted to yourself. That’s according to this sh it blog! 🙂

  • Thank you for this! It was perfect for a family member that really needed to hear this right! I shared and will share again xo

  • Huff…while reading it, I was thinking that it is a story which is about my life. I think I have lost my confidence. I have searched and found that social media makes your confidence go down.

    Now, listen to my problem. I am a 13 year old blogger. I know you would wonder that how I got to know about blogging. In blogosphere, I have some respect and I had been interviewed by some blogger and my blog is also popular. I know multiple language and the most funniest thing is- I don’t know how.

    I had started using social media sites when I was of 7. I mean near 7. Now, I always think 100 times because doing a work of 10 seconds. And due to the tension that come in my mind, I often perform or endup badly.

    What can I do to regain my confidence level?

  • This is such a great post! I love the simple steps .. they are so clear and easy to follow. my favorite is number six.. immersing yourself in what ever you try to do… this is just an extra reminder to me that even if things don’t work out the way you initially expected them too, going into something and giving it your all — you learn so many valuable lessons along the way. this is FANTASTIC.

  • hahaha love it.

  • Miracorp

    What a fantastic article. It’s so important to keep sharing info on how destructive poor self-image can be for yourself and those around you. I wanted to share: Miracorp is a powerful short film about self-image and how we perceive ourselves. The film portrays how devastating low self-image can be for a person, and how it can destroy lives. Help us get this message out! Here’s a short video about the film, including a few behind the scene insights. If we can get people who are struggling to connect with this film and help one person, we will have succeeded. Such a powerful message we should all hear and share.We need to love what we see #inthemirror! https://vimeo.com/155179650

  • Tei

    I can’t stop this self-hate, I want to change, but I can’t force myself to think anything else, because if I didn’t hate myself… I’d just be lying to myself…