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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you have a healthy dose of self-esteem, you’ll probably see a confident person looking back at you.

Self-esteem is about more than liking the way you look. It’s about valuing and accepting yourself for who you are. Recognizing your unique talents, personality traits, and inner beauty is healthy.

You probably know some people with low self-esteem, perhaps even yourself. Many students struggle to feel positive about themselves. Sometimes this is because they’ve had negative experiences, are criticized a lot, feel “different,” or have lost a meaningful relationship. Not surprisingly, how you bounce back from these experiences affects your self-esteem.

Here are three tips for boosting and maintaining good feelings about yourself: 

1. Find positive people.

The world is filled with unrealistic standards, and judging yourself based on these is a recipe for disaster. Connect with people who make you feel valued, loved, and accepted, rather than those who are judgmental or negative.

2. Think uplifting thoughts.

Research shows that changing your thought patterns can change your behavior. Spend some time identifying the things you appreciate about yourself. Are you a good friend? Honest? Hard working? Write down your positive qualities and put them somewhere you’ll see them daily, such as on a mirror.

3. Learn something new.

Nothing builds self-esteem like accomplishments, and a great way to experience them is by challenging yourself with new activities. Even if it takes a while to succeed, give yourself credit for trying. Join an activity or group that focuses on things you’d like to learn or improve.

These small steps can have a big impact on how you feel. But if negative feelings are affecting your schoolwork, relationships, or activities, talk to your school counselor or another person you trust.

Easy ways to boost your self-esteem

Here are more things you can do to enhance your sense of self-worth and also help other people feel good.

  • Mentor someone. Help a younger student or family member learn a skill or improve in school.
  • Give compliments. The positive vibes will be contagious.
  • Do things you love to do. Spending time on activities you enjoy will naturally feel good.
  • Avoid “trash talk.” Resist the urge to put down yourself or other people. People around you will be less likely to criticize you if you’re focusing on the positive.

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Article sources

Michigan State University Extension, ABC’s of changing your thoughts and feelings in order to change your behavior. Retrieved April 9, 2014 from https://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/abcs_of_changing_your_thoughts_and_feelings_in_order_to_change_your_ behavio

The University of Texas at Austin, Counseling and Mental Health Center, Self-esteem. Retrieved April 9, 2014 from https://cmhc.utexas.edu/selfesteem.html