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Building Self-Esteem - Topic Overview

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. You may have high self-esteem—you believe you are a good person—or it may be low, and you question how "good" or "worthy" you are.

Everyone has low self-esteem at times. It may happen when someone says something bad about you or questions how well you do something. But if you often feel bad about yourself, you may stop believing in yourself. You may find it hard to meet your goals and enjoy life.

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People who have depression or anxiety or who are sick or have a disability may have low self-esteem.

Building self-esteem is a lifelong process, but it can help you feel better about yourself and your life. Here are some ways to build your self-esteem. Start by picking something you'd like to try now. Later you can decide if you'd like to try other ways.

Think about yourself

Try to do things that keep you healthy, that show you respect yourself, and that give you pleasure.

  • Eat a balanced diet, and be active.
  • Wear clothing you like and feel good in.
  • Make your room, apartment, or home special for you.
  • Help someone or do a favor for somebody else.
  • Take time to do something you enjoy.
  • Spend time with people who like you and make you feel good about yourself.

Positive affirmations

A positive affirmation is something good you say about yourself. It can be a good quality you have, something good you believe about yourself, or something good you've done. It also can be about a quality you would like to have or something you would like to believe or do. Here are some examples:

  • "I am lovable."
  • "I am doing the best I can."
  • "I am a compassionate person."
  • "People care about me."

Here are some types of affirmations. See if you can come up with at least five affirmations for each type.

  • Things you've achieved in your life, such as getting a high school degree, paying off a debt, or learning a new skill
  • Your strengths, such as being loving, organized, or creative
  • Things you're proud of, such as your good relationship with your family, volunteer work you've done, or the home you've created
  • Things you do that make you feel good about yourself, such as working out, growing flowers, or going to church

Make a list of your affirmations, and keep it where you can read it often. The more you read your affirmations, the better you will feel about yourself and your life.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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