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12 Ways to Stop Undermining Your Self Esteem Learning to acknowledge your strengths and achievements is as important as being honest about your shortcomings and mistakes.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


It is easy to lose track of your worth after you have spent significant time in an unhealthy work environment. If you were given too little, you may view yourself as lacking and believe you are inadequate. If you were starved for the recognition you may become hard on yourself and insecure in conflictual situations because you fear being seen as wrong and being fired.

Conversely, if you were given too much you may have become dependent upon other people to fill you up and make you feel happy and successful, perhaps becoming angry or abusive when the world doesn't shift on its axis to give you what you want when you want it. When you have never been held responsible for sustaining your own success or well-being you remain emotionally immature and demanding.

1. Change your inner dialogue.

To increase your self-esteem improve the way you talk to yourself. Stop the inner dialogue that you are not good enough or that you must repeatedly prove your worth. That causes you to be inauthentic and to over-function.

Conversely, if you only feel good enough when people are bending over backward to placate your needs you will suffer from the disappointment of unmet and unrealistic expectations. That will cause you to become angry, demanding and to feel empty.

Related: 7 Horrible Thoughts That Hinder Success

2. Find balance.

If you are not getting your important needs met because you put yourself second to meeting the needs of others, start putting your needs first. When you put yourself first you give yourself the sense of importance you so desperately seek to feel from others.

If, on the other hand, you expect others to put you first and do everything for you, you will never develop the all-important empathy necessary for sustaining healthy connections. Find the balance of what you need to do for yourself and what you can realistically expect from others.

3. Know your worth.

If your worth is dependent upon pleasing others you will come up empty. Nothing you do for others will be enough to make you feel valued and appreciated in the way you desire. Knowing your worth has to come from within. Your worth is determined by the treatment you accept or expect for yourself, not by how much of yourself you give away.

Conversely, cannot gain the skill of developing your own self-worth if you expect others to constantly soothe you, build you up and make you feel like you are a success. Measuring your worth by how important others make you feel makes your sense of self to dependent on other people.

To know your worth take charge of yourself and see how it feels to experience your own power.

4. Create your own success and happiness.

Neither success or happiness are givens. They are creations. If happiness is not developed from within, you will naturally start looking for happiness from outside sources. This makes you needy. Your expectations, driven by insecurity, will drain others or push them away.

Trust that you deserve success and happiness. Figure out how to self-soothe and make yourself happy. When you enjoy your own achievements and success your sense of worth will attract new opportunities and the recognition you deserve from your bosses and coworkers.

Related: 16 Ways to Create Your Own Happiness at Work

5. Be proud.

Do things you are proud of. Take care to dress nice. Be nice, be calm, be loving and have boundaries. Work hard, achieve all you can, be clean and be kind. Kindness will take you further in life than any other human characteristic.

Walk tall. There is so much about you that is good, regardless of what you have been told. Choose to believe in who you are and be proud of that. Do not compare yourself to others. Like the snowflake, you are not repeatable.

6. Work hard.

Happiness is a byproduct of achieving and having a purpose. Hard work trumps genius, so let go of the idea you have to have a stellar IQ to be successful. The hard workers in life, void of entitlement, are the people who succeed at the highest levels.

There is nothing that can make you feel better about yourself then being committed in life, to your life, and to yourself through hard work. With hard work, success is a guarantee. Success naturally brings us self-love, self-respect, self-esteem, recognition and happiness.

7. Exercise.

Exercise is good all around. First, it is the best anti-anxiety and anti-depressive agent around. It promotes positive mood and it also helps you feel good about your physique. Nothing can lower self-esteem more quickly than not liking what you look like.

Commit to exercising a minimum of three times per week, and do what you can to get outdoors. When you get outside, it yanks you out of the daily grind and you are reminded of how beautiful this earth is, how beautiful life is and how much you have to be thankful for.

A little fresh air is enough to cleanse your spirit of negativity.

Related: Why Food, Sleep and Exercise Are Critical to Success

8. Eat healthy.

What you feed your stomach you feed your brain. The digestive system is the most similar in neurochemistry to the brain, which is why your stomach is considered your second brain. To feel good and be happy, eat healthy.

Supply your brain with the nutrients that stimulate health and positive mood. Eat lots of greens and drink a lot of water. Eat low-fat proteins to fuel your body for positive mood, productivity and sustainable energy.

9. Choose healthy connections.

It only takes one toxic person to destroy your entire sense of self. Choose people, companies or bosses that treat you with dignity and respect. Refuse to participate in relationships where you have to constantly prove your worth to keep their interest. Conversely, to have healthy a self-esteem avoid being that person who demands others to constantly bend to your needs for you to feel alive and worthy.

10. Depend on yourself.

Do not allow others to do for you what you can do for yourself. There is no path to a healthy self-esteem through being lazy or entitled. Learn to take care of your own needs, learn to be responsible for your own success. Support your life in all the ways you can.

Take control and become a whole person you can admire, depend upon and trust.

11. Let others be themselves.

If you are needy, insecure, entitled or demanding you become controlling. When you are controlling you compromise the freedoms of the important people in your life through fear, abandonment or engulfment. When you love yourself, you will not need to make demands because you will already have your needs taken care of. This makes you easier to work with and for.

People will respond to you the most when you give them the freedom to be themselves.

12. Be happy for others.

People with healthy self-esteem seldom feel jealousy or envy because they are satisfied in their own lives, careers and relationships. They are satisfied with who they are as people. Be happy for other people and their happiness. This shift will fundamentally change your life and only serve to bring happiness your way.

Trust there is enough love, money, happiness and success for everyone. When you see there is no such thing as lack, other people's success or happiness will no longer be a threat to you and your view of yourself. Your self-worth is YOUR business.

Related: 16 Tips for Living a Happy Life Starting Right Now

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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