What is self esteem?

Self-esteem is the way you see yourself, also known as ‘self-perception’. 

What does good self esteem look or feel like?
  • Accepting yourself
  • Understanding that you are only human
  • Being a good friend to yourself
What is poor self esteem?

Poor self-esteem is the opposite. Characteristics of poor self-esteem include:

  • Criticising yourself a lot of the time
  • Thinking badly of yourself and comparing yourself to others
  • Being overly harsh to yourself or putting yourself down

This isn’t a healthy attitude and it can affect your life in other ways, if it gets out of hand. 

How can poor self esteem cause problems?

The impacts low self-esteem can have on someone’s quality of life may include:

  • Negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, and shame
  • Relationship problems such as tolerating abusive behaviour because they think they are unloveable
  • Fear of trying 
  • Perfectionist tendencies
  • Self consciousness and fear of judgement 
  • Self-destructive behaviour (e.g. drug and alcohol abuse) 
Why is good self-esteem important?

Good self-esteem can help you in loads of ways. By being kind and compassionate to yourself (and this is a really important idea) you are more likely to put yourself out there and go for the things you really want in life – like applying for an after school job, making new friends or trying out for a spot on a sports team.

How can you build up good self-esteem?

Start small. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself in your head. Are you putting yourself down? Calling yourself out for things? Turn down the dial on that negative voice and amplify the good things! Try talking to yourself as if you’re talking to your best friend.

Remember (and accept!) the compliments you receive. Register your achievements, no matter how small. Treat yourself. Keep track of your awesomeness. If you catch sight of yourself in a mirror, really notice your best features (like “I really like my smile” or “That shirt really suits me!’). Every bit helps.

Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop and think — why am I doing this? In the age of social media, it can be easy to compare ourselves with people who seem infinitely prettier, smarter, and cooler… But remember that everyone is different and unique, and that’s what makes the world a more interesting place. Imagine what would happen if we all tried to be exactly like each other all the time… wouldn’t things be weird, and possibly a little boring? 

Remember that nobody is perfect. If you have perfectionist tendencies, try reflecting on and being aware about them. Make room for mistakes, and set reasonable goals for yourself. After all, we’re only human, and it’s okay to have slip-ups in life!

Acknowledge what makes you special, and remind yourself of your good qualities everyday. Find the activities that you’re good at and make you feel positive about yourself — whether it be dancing, running, cooking, or drawing — and practise them as much as you can.

Learn more

Check out this video for some advice on improving your self-esteem:

Where to get help

If you’re finding it hard to be kind to yourself and you’re really down, you might want to consider talking to someone about it.

  • Talk to your school counsellor about how you’re feeling
  • Talk to your local doctor about the way you are feeling. They will be able to refer you to a specialist doctor in this field. Read Going to the doctor for more advice.
  • Contact a mental health organisation like beyond blue, Kids Helpline or headspace. Each of these organisations have help phone lines and chat rooms with trained professionals waiting to help.

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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