How To Build Self-Esteem: Tips For Increasing Self-Confidence

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated April 25, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Self-esteem refers to the way you feel about yourself—how you perceive your own worth and abilities. A healthy sense of self-esteem can be vital to your overall well-being, helping you develop strong relationships, practice self-compassion, and feel more confident as you navigate life’s challenges.

High self-esteem is elusive for some, though. If you have struggle to develop a positive self-perception, there are several ways you can show yourself kindness, consistently recognize your own worth, and embrace your life. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of building self-esteem and provide tips for increasing your self-confidence. 

Healthy self-esteem can be an important part of mental wellness

The benefits of building self-esteem

There is a large body of evidence linking enhanced self-esteem to a range of positive outcomes. A healthy appreciation for your own qualities and abilities can be helpful when it comes to your career, well-being, relationships, and numerous other facets of life. The following are several proven benefits of high self-esteem.

Enhanced motivation

Research shows that there is a correlation between self-esteem and motivation. When you value yourself highly and have confidence in your abilities, you may feel more capable of taking steps toward achieving your goals. You might be more excited about taking on new challenges and more confident about the choices you’re making. 

A well-developed sense of self-value can also help you recognize that you’re worthy, regardless of the outcomes of your endeavors. Knowing your value is not tied to success or failure may motivate you to try new things and pursue the life you desire. 

Academic/career success

A positive self-perception has been associated with success in a variety of arenas. For example, researchers have found connections between self-esteem, academic achievement and career development. Additionally, high levels of self-esteem have been linked to increases in persistence and the ability to find solutions to difficult challenges. In addition to providing you with confidence that you can succeed in your professional or academic career, a healthy sense of self-esteem can help you advocate for yourself. You may be more willing to strive for a promotion or apply for a coveted internship. 

Stronger relationships

Feelings of inadequacy or dissatisfaction can make it hard to develop healthy relationships. Struggling to believe that we’re worthy of compassion and affection may cause us to withdraw from others. On the other hand, a positive self-image can remind us of the value that we bring to others’ lives and may foster enhanced connections. 

Studies show that self-esteem can improve romantic partnerships, parent-child relationships, and friendships. When you have a strong sense of self-worth—and you’re comfortable with who you are—you may be more willing to open up to loved ones, potentially leading to deeper, more authentic bonds. Additionally, people are often attracted to self-assuredness; so your confidence may lead to more connections overall. 

Improved mental health

Your feelings about yourself can impact your emotions and overall mental health. Research suggests that high levels of self-esteem are associated with positive mental health outcomes. Low self-esteem, conversely, can contribute to mental health challenges like depression and anxiety. It is thought that low self-esteem can lead to risky behavior and maladaptive coping mechanisms that may negatively affect mental well-being. 

Increased happiness

Self-esteem is associated with optimism, satisfaction, and motivation—elements that are also commonly connected to happiness. This may help explain why research shows that happiness is closely correlated with self-esteem. Happiness is often a result of an individual being satisfied with their circumstances and confident in the direction they’re headed. This evaluation of one’s life is sometimes referred to as subjective well-being, a measure that has been closely linked to self-esteem

Additionally, if you’re confident in your abilities, you may feel better positioned to make positive changes in your life. So, though you may be content, an increase in self-assuredness could naturally accompany career success, closer relationships, and emotional stability, all of which may contribute to your happiness.

How to build self-esteem

Now that you’re aware of the benefits of a healthy sense of self-worth, you may be wondering how to develop one yourself. The following are several tips for building self-esteem, some of which you can do on your own, and some of which may be most effectively implemented with the help of a therapist. 

Identify factors that impact your self-image

If you sometimes experience low self-esteem, it can help to understand its sources. A negative self-perception can sometimes arise out of one’s upbringing or early experiences. Having caretakers who were hypercritical or experiencing social rejection at a young age may cause an individual to seek external validation, as opposed to developing an inherent sense of self-value. 

Social media can also skew an individual’s self-image. Repeated exposure to idealized lifestyles can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and inadequacy. Identifying factors that may contribute to a negative self-image can be the first step toward building healthy self-esteem. If you struggle with low self-esteem but aren’t sure why, a mental health professional can help you identify and address the potential sources of your feelings.

Practice self-compassion

Understanding that it’s OK to love who you are and show yourself kindness can help improve your self-image. Self-compassion may help you remind yourself that you’re worthy of care and love—and practicing it can be simple. One way of practicing self-love is by treating yourself the way you’d treat a friend or family member. For example, when your friend makes a mistake, how do you respond? Do you forgive them, show them respect and understanding, and then move on? If so, try to respond similarly when you make a mistake.   

You can also show yourself kindness by taking care of your body and mind. Self-care activities like eating a balanced diet, exercising, and meditating can help you feel confident, motivated, and healthy. Consider creating a self-care routine that allows you to tend to your mental and physical health daily. Consistently showing yourself compassion can help you gradually build self-esteem. 

Challenge negative thoughts

Our beliefs about ourselves are often based on cognitive distortions or other unhelpful thought patterns, which can lead to a cycle of negative thinking and worsening self-esteem. If this happens to you frequently, it can help to challenge these thoughts when they arise. 

Take, for example, a situation in which you don’t complete a project on time at work, despite always having done so in the past. If you then start to believe you’re bad at your job—a common cognitive distortion—your self-confidence may be damaged. Instead, you might try to remember times when you completed the same tasks successfully or otherwise excelled at your job. Looking at your strengths and weaknesses in a more objective, factual way can help you reframe negative thoughts and avoid lowering your self-esteem.

Healthy self-esteem can be an important part of mental wellness

Use positive self-talk

Much like negative thought patterns, negative self-talk can make you feel that you're unworthy. Even if you’re objectively evaluating yourself, try to phrase self-assessments positively. For example, instead of thinking to yourself, I’m not good at math, you might think, I’ve struggled at math in the past, but I know I’m capable of improvement. Positive self-talk can help you shift your mindset and recognize your value. 

Celebrate your successes

We often become so focused on taking the next steps in life that we forget to identify and appreciate our accomplishments. Taking time to celebrate achieving goals or making progress toward completing objectives can help you recognize your value. Celebrating your successes could mean taking yourself out to a movie after you’ve completed a project or simply writing down a positive step you took in a journal. This sense of accomplishment can help you stay motivated and remind you that you’re worthy of admiration and kindness. 


Healthy self-worth through online therapy

Research shows that online therapy can help individuals cultivate a positive self-image while addressing mental health-related concerns. For example, in a study examining the efficacy of online therapy for individuals with low self-esteem, researchers found that online therapy led to “significantly higher levels of self-rated self-esteem”. Additionally, participants reported experiencing improvements in quality of life and reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

If you’re struggling to value yourself highly or develop confidence in your abilities, online therapy can help. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can work with a therapist remotely, which can be helpful if you’re not comfortable discussing topics like your self-worth in person. BetterHelp works with thousands of mental health professionals—who have a range of specialties—so you’ll have a good chance of matching with someone who can address your specific concerns regarding your self-esteem. 


Healthy self-esteem can have many benefits, including increased self-confidence, stronger relationships, and improved emotional well-being. If you struggle with a negative self-perception, the above strategies—engaging in positive self-talk, challenging negative thoughts, celebrating your successes, etc.—can help you shift your mindset and recognize your value. For additional support with building self-esteem, consider connecting with a therapist online. A qualified professional can help you take the next step toward a positive self-image and mental wellness.
You are deserving of positive self-esteem
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