Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves

To understand low self-esteem and how to increase it, let’s first see what healthy self-esteem looks like. According to Psychology Today, people with healthy self-esteem:

  1. Are able to take risks and to give their all to a project or ambition, because, although failure may hurt or upset them, it is not going to damage or diminish them.
  2. Do not rely on externals such as status or income, or on crutches such as alcohol, drugs, or sex to feel better about themselves. To the contrary, they treat themselves with respect, feel pride, and take good care of their health, development, and environment.
  3. Are open to growth experiences and meaningful relationships, tolerant of risk, quick to joy and delight, and accepting and forgiving of themselves and others.

Difference Between Confidence and Self-esteem:

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself overall, whereas confidence is how you feel about your abilities which can vary depending on the situation. For example you can be confident in sports but not in mathematics.

Signs of Low Self-esteem:

  • If you dislike yourself
  • Feeling like you are worthless or not good enough
  • Indecisive
  • Difficulties being assertive
  • Feeling inadequate in social situations
  • You think no one likes you
  • Feeling like a failure
  • Blaming yourself even if things aren’t your fault
  • Feeling guilty for spending money on yourself or doing nice things for yourself
  • Feeling guilty often
  • You are unable to see your strengths
  • You feel like you don’t deserve happiness
  • Low in confidence

Causes of Low Self-esteem May Include:

  • An unhappy childhood or having critical parents
  • Having a mental illness such as anxiety or depression
  • Being mistreated by others or being in an abusive relationship
  • Long-term financial issues

Ways to Increase Self-esteem:

  • Be aware of your negative self-talk and correct it to make it positive.
  • Be your own best friend; treat yourself how you would treat a good friend.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Be assertive.
  • Write down all of your positive qualities and remind yourself of them daily.
  • Ask a friend or family member what they like about you, or what unique gifts you have.
  • Exercise and eat well.
  • Get sufficient sleep.
  • Do something you love and that is meaningful to you. This gives you purpose in life.
  • Forgive someone or forgive yourself; holding onto resentment and bitterness can lower your self-esteem.
  • Volunteer. This is another way to give your life purpose!
  • Talk to a therapist. Reach out to our team at Cornerstone to speak to a professional.


If you are interested in knowing where you are at, take this Self-Esteem Test which is designed to evaluate your general level of self-esteem and determine whether it would be beneficial to work on your self-image.


Blog post by Vanessa Amundson, Volunteer.