How to Improve Low Self-Esteem and Be Kinder to Oneself – Ask a Therapist #2

I don’t feel good enough most of the time. I tend to focus on my flaws and failures rather than my strengths. I compare myself to others which just reinforces my negative self-image. I want to appreciate myself more but I’m not sure where to start. What steps would you recommend for improving my self-worth and being kinder to myself?

It takes great courage to open up about such deep feelings. I can see that you’re experiencing some challenges with feeling secure and positive in your inner world. A narrowed focus on flaws and failures can contribute to feeling unworthy. Know that you’re not alone in this journey of self-discovery and self-appreciation. The path to embracing oneself begins with gentle steps. I am glad to offer hope, as well as solutions.

To begin, let’s look at the meaning of self-worth and self-value. While similar, the two play different critical roles in the development of a positive self-concept. 

Self-worth is the beliefs and positive feelings you have about yourself. Such as “I am a good person”, “I believe I can succeed”, and “I am lovable”.

While self-value is similar, it involves your behaviors or how you treat yourself. Like, ensuring your basic needs are met, caring for your body, so that it supports you, and avoiding things you know are harmful to you. To learn more about this click here. 

The way we treat ourselves sends a message to the world about how we believe we should be treated by others. Treating ourselves with respect and kindness teaches others to do the same. If we do not make a habit of treating ourselves with kindness, others may incorrectly assume unkindness is acceptable when interacting with us.

This is important to self-worth, because when we let people treat us poorly, we inadvertently allow ourselves to believe that we deserve to be treated poorly. We adopt low self-esteem and low self-worth through unhelpful social exchanges. 

Feeling good about yourself and treating yourself well culminates in undeniable self-worth. Give it a try. 

Here are just a few examples of how to improve your self-worth so you can radiate light from within.

  1. Engage in Solo-Date Nights 

 Set aside special moments just for yourself, without any company. This practice nurtures self-reliance on your positive qualities. Plan an outing to your favorite spot, dine at a cherished restaurant, or enjoy a solo movie night. The key is to purposefully spend quality time alone, fostering a deeper connection with yourself.

  1. Establish Healthy Boundaries 

Setting boundaries serves as a powerful tool to communicate how you wish to be treated. While it might seem like restrictions, boundaries are more like guiding principles. They provide clear guidelines for others to understand how to interact with you respectfully. Upholding these boundaries with family, friends, and peers bolsters your sense of self-worth.

  1. Adopt a New Viewpoint 

Try seeing yourself from a different angle. Consider looking at your life through the lens of a higher power, whether that’s your understanding of God, the Universe, the beauty of Nature, or even an idealized version of yourself. Perspective taking illuminates your positive features, resulting in increased self-esteem.

  1. Compassionate Self-Talk: Speak to yourself with the tenderness you’d offer a cherished friend. When negativity whispers, respond with kindness and understanding. Ex. Say thank you to a self-depreciating thought for showing you where you still need to heal. This inner dialogue nurtures self-worth.
  2. Embrace Uniqueness: Each of us carries a beautiful tapestry of strengths and quirks. Instead of comparisons, celebrate your uniqueness. See yourself as a constellation, shining with your own light.
  3. Seeking Support: Sharing your journey with a trusted guide—a counselor, mentor, or friend—can illuminate the path forward. Their guidance and support can be a comforting lantern on your quest for self-love.
  4. Detox from Social Media: Taking a break from the internet and social platforms reduces your intake of images and content that provide fanciful ideals of beauty, success and perfection. Managing and becoming aware of what you consume on the daily, produces realistic expectations and broadens your scope of self-acceptance.

    Bonus Intervention: Some days are harder than others on this journey toward loving yourself. On those days, it might help to have an Emotional Support Jar. Create an emotional support jar. On the easy days, reflect on your strengths, accomplishments, and wins. Write them individually on small cards and place them in the jar. On days that challenge your self-esteem, come back to the jar and read all the cards that serve to remind you how you have come through for yourself time after time. This practice can help disrupt self-depreciating thoughts, so you can feel safe, appreciated, validated, and loved. 

See these helpful resources for more support on your journey:

Listen to Affirmation Music by Tony Jones on Spotify or YouTube. This is a combination of poetic affirmations and modern music resulting in healing and mindset shifting on a journey toward self-love. 

Self-Love Alchemist Kathryn Cornelius at 

Self-Compassion Exercises at Exercises (

Peace & Blessings,

Chaoni Kelly, CMHC Intern 

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