Lucas Brenner » Articles » How to Increase Your Self-Esteem

All people have the feeling of not being good enough from time to time. This is perfectly normal. However, by taking a few simple steps, you can prevent yourself from feeling this way frequently and from making it normal to doubt yourself.

Expand Your Own Identity

Many people base their self-esteem on too few things. For example, many define themselves by their job or title. If you then lose your job, don't get a promotion or meet someone higher up in the corporate hierarchy, your self-esteem is likely to plummet.

In the age of the Internet and social media, we also compare ourselves with other people far too often. On social media, we only see the best moments in the lives of a few people who gear all their actions to being as media- and public-friendly as possible. Their posts are not a reflection of their true lives and therefore should not be a role model for your “perfect” life. You rarely or never see the bad and sad moments on social media.

Instead of chasing dreams on Instagram and the like, you should expand your identity in other ways. Like an investment portfolio, you should diversify your own self-esteem. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a bad idea.

Areas of your self-esteem can be work, friends, family, your own partner and general happiness. How strongly the individual parts are weighted can vary and change over time.

The important thing is to be clear about how your portfolio is structured. In the short term, it is okay to focus on one share, for example if you are in the middle of an important work project. In the long term, however, you should pay attention to all shares and work on them. For example, you should not sacrifice your social contacts or your own needs for the sake of working more or helping others selflessly.

The proportions of self-esteem can change due to external or internal events. The birth of a child, a new job or an illness can completely change your portfolio from one moment to the next. You should prepare for these radical changes as best as possible and, above all, adjust the self-esteem portfolio accordingly instead of continuing to try to act according to old patterns.

Tiago Forte wrote an article about the concept of a self-esteem portfolio.

Toxic Relationships and Criticism

Even if you have diversified your own self-esteem to the best of your ability and are aware of what actions and areas of your life control your satisfaction with yourself, it is still possible to doubt yourself. Triggers for this are often toxic relationships and the wrong way of dealing with criticism.

Toxic relationships should be avoided as best as possible. This applies not only to romantic partnerships, but also to friendships and work relationships. Should you have to deal with people in these areas who behave negatively or even toxically, you must make a decision. Either you allow this type of relationship to damage your self-esteem, or you improve or end the relationship. Other people should not drag you down.

Dealing with criticism is more complicated. Constructive criticism is important so that you can improve your and your own work and become more resilient. On the other hand, negative criticism that does not contain suggestions for improvement is harmful. It is difficult to distinguish between the two because you are emotionally involved.

Instead of trying to improve the critic, you have to remember that criticism is not about your identity, but only about your work. If you are personally attacked, you can automatically dismiss it as bad criticism and should try to avoid these people as much as possible.

Criticism leads to improvement and in 99% of the cases, it is not meant in a bad way. The more diversified your self-esteem portfolio is, the easier it is to remember this. Criticism in one area of life is thus limited to one part of your identity.

My recommendation, if you often doubt yourself and have a rather low self-esteem, is that you should write down such a portfolio.

This is true even if you feel good about yourself right now, because in other moments you're probably grateful that you've done the work now.

Very likely, you'll feel better just by writing it down. And if you then start to act on the portfolio and counter the negative emotions, you can improve your self-esteem even more.