ways to improve self-esteem

By Bhuwan Sharma

We can often notice or tell if someone has high or low self-esteem if we actively observe their behavior and body language. This is quite obvious, isn’t it? What is usually evidence of a high self-esteemed person is that they feel no need to show their competence or shout their worth to the world to prove themselves. Those with high self-esteem usually do not feel the need to boast, constantly tell others of their achievements, take personal credit for a team effort, show off, dominate any conversations or constantly remind you of all of their possessions. Those of us, who practice all or some of these things, actually, have quite a low self-esteem.

A friend of mine recently told me a story. He was in India for a workshop on leadership development, clearly to learn from experts from outside of Nepal. He witnessed that, one of the facilitators of the workshop was a well-known corporate leadership trainer and he felt excited at the possibility of conversing with the expert and picking his brain during recesses. He looked firm and confident and showed no signs of stress or anxiety. My friend was fascinated by his persona. However, during each recess, the facilitator seemed very relaxed but showed no interest in talking to anyone else. Even when my friend approached him with questions, he felt, the expert usually deflected them and created a diversion to very light-hearted conversations. During the workshop, he articulated the content of the curriculum really well but my friend noticed that the expert had another facilitator to answer all the questions from the participants. On the last day of the 7 days workshop, my friend decided to invite the facilitator for a dinner as a token of gratitude for the learning he received. During dinner, the light conversation delved into my friend’s profession and what he did for a living. When my friend told him that he was a professional coach and has positively affected many lives with his skills, my friend saw a sudden shift in the facilitator’s body language. It is then that the expert appeared to open himself up to my friend and asked if he could help the facilitator get over his anxieties regarding conducting workshops. My friend, after asking him a few powerful questions, quickly realized that the issue was directly related to the facilitators’ own self-worth and his doubts regarding his capabilities.

But, what kind of behaviors and characteristics do high self-esteemed people actually demonstrate?

  • They do not have reservations about sharing their knowledge with others.
  • They exhibit humility
  • They let others take credit for any success or even give others credit themselves.
  • They do not go around looking for compliments.
  • They do not show signs of discomfort when they receive compliments. They know they deserve it.
  • For them, confidence does not mean dominance and they are comfortable being quiet and letting others take control.
  • They show genuine interest in other people, their experiences, and their successes.
  • Lack of recognition from people around them, will not demotivate them or derail them from their vision and goals.

“If you see yourself regularly focusing a critical feedback a friend gave you while never ever mentioning some of the praises you received, in your self-talk, you may be requiring some solid work on your self-esteem.”

When you examine an individual with high self-esteem, their self worth and their esteem is usually articulated by their body language. They usually possess a relaxed demeanor, you usually see them stand or sit upright and their movements are confident without signs of hesitations along with active eye contact. Their body language tells a lot if you are analyzing them accurately.

What we need to carefully consider is the fact that; just because someone looks confident and talks competent and you feel, they seem calm, relaxed, and self-assured from outside, does not necessarily speak of their high self-esteem. Even people who are able to speak up for others, sometimes lack the self-worth to really do the same for themselves. Some people may feel normal to try and inspire their friends and families by showing them better ways of doing things, but may appear to struggle to believe, he himself may be able to pull it off. Some of us may look at other people’s limitations and feel sympathetic towards them but our own self-talk regarding our own limitations may not be as kind. It is important to understand that, even if people appear to be confident, efficient, or domineering, externally, they may feel quite unworthy on the inside.

We have discussed before, modeling someone may see the result you want to deal with this issue. Consider some people you may already know, who you feel, demonstrates a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem: how do they do it? What exactly do they do? How do they behave? What are their beliefs? What is really important to them? What do they do exactly, that gives you the message that they are actually comfortable with who they are? Use all of your senses to make the best observations possible. Also, check what your instinct is telling you about this.

You can now create a mental movie and imagine that you are watching yourself from outside. Visualize yourself taking on all the attributes of the high self-esteemed person you felt was ideal for you to replicate. If you practice this visualization enough times, you will rapidly begin to feel the difference and find most, if not all, of these attributes to be the natural collection of your repertoire.

Some more ways of improving self-esteem

As you may have already noticed, there are several ways of improving self-esteem. We are only going to focus on some of the really easy and simple ways recommended by NLP, to keep things simple 


If you are observant enough, you can definitely tell the strategies that people with high self-esteem employ, at least externally. You will have a set of behaviors or activities for you to follow as a recipe. For example,

If you look again at the description of how people with self-esteem actually present themselves, you’ll find a kind of recipe for external behavior. For example, they usually have good eye contact when dealing with other people, they usually have a calm and relaxed demeanor or they seem decisive and purposeful in their movements.

We meet a lot of people every day as our profession demands it. I feel, as coaches and trainers, with plenty of practice, we have trained our self to notice and tell a big deal about people by paying attention to attributes like these. Now, magically and effectively, NLP has demonstrated that if we actively copy the actions and behaviors of a high self-esteemed person, exactly like they do, we will eventually start feeling more and more confident yourself.

You are, in this context, behaving as-if you were the person (the person you would want to emulate) with a high sense of self. Obviously, some of you will have doubts and want to hear more evidence regarding the efficiency of this concept. I feel you. How about, next you go to a bank and see a teller, act as-if you expect and deserve immediate attention? Visualize yourself acting as-if you are someone that commands attention from people around you. Try and be that person using all of your senses and inspect for any hunching and straighten your shoulders before you say anything. Look at them when you speak and speak at a slow pace. Observe if you can feel any nervousness in you and do the needful to quieten your stress before you start the exchange. Can you feel the difference? Do you notice the change in how people respond to you?

We have been constantly and continuously replicating and copying people around us ever since we were born. So, if you feel like this is unethical in any way, there is obviously no reason to listen to that nonsense. You are only consciously deciding to choose the attributes you want to copy that empowers you instead of those that limit you.

Focus on what works:

Feelings and behaviors are seen to be connected in many ways. All of our feelings actively affect our behaviors and conversely, our behaviors will affect our feelings and our state of mind. Most of us have the perception that our behaviors can only be transformed if we can somehow change our feelings. NLP tells us that, the opposite is also just as true and views this as an easier and faster way of achieving change.

Constantly and regularly focusing on what is not working is a sign that your self-esteem is suffering. If you see yourself regularly focusing a critical feedback a friend gave you while never ever mentioning some of the praises you received, in your self-talk, you may be requiring some solid work on your self-esteem. Do you usually appear to feel low about what you could not achieve while completely ignoring all of your real achievements? In situations like these, what do you envision a person with high self-esteem doing or telling themselves?

A person with a high sense of self will look for what worked, include the praises she/he received in their self-talk, and also allow themselves to feel proud for all the things they have actually achieved. You may feel that this is fooling oneself or being unrealistic or self-obsessed but if done appropriately, you will notice that these could act as fuel for your productivity that takes you towards your ideal life.

You are enough:

Self-acceptance is obviously, the main ingredient to create solid self-esteem. Self-acceptance basically means accepting and being comfortable with who you are. You are enough. We are not asking you to pretend that you are perfect or to overlook your limiting attributes. What we are telling you is that regardless of what imperfections you see in yourself, accept yourself. Once you perceive yourself as beautifully imperfect, like everyone else, you may feel easier being kinder to yourself. Your self-talk will be more empowering. You will be able to view your limitations and weaknesses as reality but you will not feel the need to deplore yourself for them and this will allow yourself to transform, grow, and change.

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