How to Improve Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is the way we think about ourselves and the value we place on ourselves.

When we have healthy self-esteem we tend to feel positive about ourselves and life in general, and we’re better able to deal with life’s ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a negative light and feel less able to take on life’s challenges.

Low self-esteem often stems from experiences in childhood that lead us to believe negative things about ourselves.

These experiences could be things like:

  • Being bullied at school
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Being mocked by a teacher
  • Poor academic performance
  • Being teased by other kids
  • And a multitude of other experiences

What does positive self-esteem look like?

There are two types of positive self-esteem:

  1. The kind the world advocates where you tell yourself how great you are, that you’re destined for great things, that you are beautiful.

This one is destined for failure because self-generated self-esteem is shored up with flimsy beams at best.

The Bible says “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” Jeremiah 17:5,6 (KJV)

2. The other kind of positive self-esteem is based on what God says about you. We can believe what God says about us because He speaks truth. A self-esteem based on this creates stability and peace and gives purpose in life.

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7,8 (KJV)

How to tell if you have low self-esteem

Here are some signs of low self-esteem:

  • Saying negative things about yourself a lot
  • Criticising yourself harshly
  • Joking about yourself in a negative way
  • Ignoring or downplaying achievements
  • Blaming yourself when things go wrong
  • Self-doubt
  • Defensiveness when faults are pointed out
  • Unable to express needs in relationship/minimising your own needs
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Constant comparison with others
  • People pleasing
  • Lacking boundaries – you allow other people to walk over you
  • Difficulty accepting compliments and positive feedback/deflecting compliments
  • Sabotaging your own success
  • Difficulty speaking up or expressing an opinion
  • Apologising for bothering people when you aren’t
  • Believing you don’t deserve better in life, relationships, job etc
  • Difficulty making your own decisions
  • Doing things excessively for other people
  • You don’t like yourself
  • Bragging
  • Pride/conceited/believing you are better than others
  • Elevated opinion of abilities and talents

Still not sure if you have low self-esteem? Do the Rosenberg Self Esteem Test and see how you score.

Related: How to boost self-esteem in kids

How to overcome low self-esteem

Let’s take a look at how to overcome low self-esteem in a way that pleases God.

Immerse yourself in how God sees you

The place to find the truth about your value is the Bible. What does God say about you?

The self-help gurus will tell you to look yourself in the mirror every morning and use “I am” statements like, “I am beautiful”, “I am successful”, “I am a winner”.

Instead, use God’s truth to formulate your own “I am” statements:

  • I am loved by God. (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • I am chosen by God, and He has a purpose for my life. (John 15:16)
  • I am accepted in the beloved. God created me with unique talents and abilities to be used for Him. (Ephesians 1:6)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nothing is too hard for me when I am connected to His power. (Philippians 4:13)
  • I am precious to God because Jesus gave His life for me. (Isaiah 43:4, John 3:16))

You get the idea. Write some of your own and put them in places you will see them often throughout the day.

As you speak God’s truth to yourself daily, you will notice a change in your emotional and mental state, and how you feel about yourself.  

Identify negative/limiting beliefs and challenge them

Think about what you are thinking about.

Whenever you feel something negative, ask yourself what you are thinking and then compare that to what God’s word says about you.

Maybe you feel useless when you compare yourself to the achievements of others.

Ask yourself, “Is it true that I am useless?” No. “My talents and abilities are different to those of others. I can be and do what God wants me to be and do without feeling less than others.”

Sometimes we have to have a little “talk” to ourselves to adjust our thinking.  

Develop yourself

When you develop yourself you will give your self-esteem a boost.

Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish and create a plan to start working on those things.

Do you want to learn a new skill, change a bad habit, or overcome a fear? It brings glory to God and makes us like ourselves more, when we improve ourselves.

Related: Developing yourself


Exercise has a huge impact on your mental and physical well-being. As you exercise, your body will feel more “together” and able to move.

You will immediately feel better about yourself.

Develop a new, good habit

Do you need to drink more water, exercise, read daily, get outside, or start a gratitude journal?

Print out this free habit tracker to help you stay committed to developing your new habit.

Keep a gratitude journal

Gratitude has a huge impact on mental health. Take time to write down at least 3 things you are thankful for – every day (perhaps at night, just before going to sleep).

If you really want to challenge yourself, look for 10 things you can be thankful for every day. This “prescription” will have you feeling better about yourself and your life in a few days.  

Help someone else

It is always more blessed to give than to receive, and helping someone else will take the attention off yourself.

Look for ways to be a blessing to others and then choose to bless them – whether you feel like it or not.

Forgive yourself

We’ve all made mistakes and wish we could reverse certain actions and choices we made. Unless you forgive yourself, you will stay chained to your mistakes forever and they will prevent you from moving forward with your life.

If God forgives you, who are you to not forgive yourself?

Stop comparing yourself

The Bible tells us that when we compare ourselves with others, we are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).

God created you with unique talents and abilities and He delights in you (Zechariah 3:17). Yes, you may need some developing, but comparison with others will only keep you stuck in negativity and self-loathing.

It’s far better to compare yourself with God and find out what He wants of you, and then cooperate with Him to grow personally and become the person He wants you to be.

We all have times we don’t feel great about ourselves, but when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem it can have harmful effects on both mental and physical health, as well as wreak havoc in relationships.

Healthy relationships are formed by healthy individuals. If your relationships are toxic, chaotic or filled with drama, then it’s likely that one of you is not healthy.

Get the free health assessment below to find out how healthy you and your relationships are.

Do you struggle with low self-esteem? Which of these things should you implement?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has three grown kids and is married to her best friend, Richard. She started this website as a platform to help families, and specifically women, to take control of their lives and grow themselves spiritually, mentally & emotionally, and to discover their God-given purpose and live it out with confidence. She is a trained Life Coach and has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). She is a certified SYMBIS (Save Your Marriage Before It Starts) facilitator. She lives in sunny South Africa.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.