These daily practices are a total game changer.
Self-esteem is the foundation for how we see and value ourselves. When our self-esteem is low, it can negatively impact all areas of our lives. The good news is that self-esteem can be strengthened through purposeful daily practices.
Psychologist Nathaniel Branden identified six pillars that support healthy self-esteem development. By integrating these pillars into our routine, we can cultivate confidence, self-acceptance, and an overall positive sense of self-worth.
Branden explains that self-esteem arises from living consciously, embracing self-acceptance, taking self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and personal integrity. When we consciously apply these six pillars, we build the muscles needed for robust and resilient self-esteem.
Let’s explore six essential habits you can integrate into your daily routine to help strengthen your self-esteem.
1. Develop mindfulness skills to practice living consciously.
There’s a reason why mindfulness has become a common intervention in many therapeutic practices. Mindfulness sets the foundation for creating awareness and using that awareness to live with conscious intention.
In order to facilitate our own personal growth, we have to be able to accurately assess our environment, both internally and externally, so we can make effective decisions about how we want to show up in our lives. This is the essence of living consciously, the first pillar of self esteem.
You can practice the skill of mindfulness by recognizing when you get lost in either your thoughts or emotions, and learning to center yourself. You can do this by leveraging both to find the wisdom that lies between to create a “wise mind” from which living consciously becomes far more accessible.
The pathway to building a positive sense of self begins with the practice of living consciously.
2. Show yourself plenty of compassion to master self-acceptance.
As you begin a practice of living consciously, you may become acutely aware of the judgements you hold toward yourself. Such judgements feed on insecurities like a wildfire and can diminish one’s sense of value in a world.
When you become aware of such judgements, recognize it as an opportunity to treat yourself with kindness and respect. The second pillar of self-esteem is the practice of self-acceptance and described it as a precondition to change and growth.
To accept oneself is to make a conscious choice to value yourself, to be your own friend and ally, and to fully experience reality as it appears to you.
The practice of self-acceptance allows you to live in love and truth rather than in fear and denial so that you can learn and grow from each and every experience life has to offer you.
3. Take ownership of your well-being to practice self-responsibility.
Through a practice of self-acceptance, you may come to realize that while some things are well within your control, there are many others that are well beyond your control.
Building off the first two pillars of self-esteem, the third pillar works to protect self-esteem.
The practice of self-responsibility challenges you to discern between what is up to you and what is simply not.
When living unconsciously or in denial of uncomfortable truths, the path of least resistance may light your way — but is it even in a direction you want to be going?
To engage with the world in such a way can be detrimental to your self-esteem. Trying to control things you can’t or denying responsibility for things you can can be erosive to the self-esteem.
The practice of self-responsibility puts you back in the driver seat of your life.
When you start taking ownership of your dreams, goals, and outcomes — and even your failures, mistakes, and shortcomings — things don’t just happen TO you for you to suffer in pain but rather FOR you to evolve and adapt.
4. Advocate for yourself to build your muscles of self-assertiveness.
Once you start practicing self-responsibility, you begin to recognize all the ways you have inadvertently given your personal power away by living your life according to everyone else’s standards but your own.
This strategy for survival can dramatically compromise your self-esteem without the previously discussed practices supporting the weight of your ego — that part of you that thrives on other people’s approval and needs to be validated or accepted at all costs.
The practice of self-assertiveness refers to honoring your needs, wants and values and expressing them in an ecological way that works for not just you, but also for others, society, and the world.
When you’re practicing self-assertiveness, there is a willingness to stand up for yourself, to be who you are openly, and to treat yourself with respect in all interactions.
You can practice self-assertiveness simply by living by your own set of standards and learning to say no to other people’s expectations of you if they are not yours or aligned with your values.
The foundation needed for self-esteem to develop becomes much more stable when you become your own ally and advocate.
5. Set daily intentions and weekly goals to practice living purposefully.
To live without purpose means to live at the mercy of chance because there’s no standard by which to judge whether something is worth doing or not.
To live with purpose, on the other hand, means using of all of the personal power you have to achieve meaningful goals that propel you forward and energize your existence.
When you set intentions and goals for yourself, you are in essence living on purpose rather than by accident.
Think of intentions as how you want to show up (or how you want others to show up for you) when completing a task, and think of goals as a specific outcome your are working toward accomplishing by doing that task.
Intentions and goals are the building blocks of productivity, an element of self-esteem worth noting.
Healthy self-esteem requires you to support your own existence by setting goals and actively working towards achieving them.
However, it’s not the achievement itself that proves our worth or right to exist; it is in the process of achieving by which we develop our competency to function in the world and the skills necessary to cope with the basic challenges of everyday living —taking care of yourself, managing your schedule, balancing priorities, paying bills, and completing chores, among other things.
The practice of living purposefully, the fifth pillar of self-esteem, allows you to cultivate self-esteem by integrating all pillars to help you remain on path and on purpose through the actions you take daily.
When you are productive in working toward your goals or changing your situation, you are building self-esteem one action at a time.
6. Cultivate alignment between what you do and say by committing to personal integrity.
The easiest way to erode self-esteem is by saying your going to do something and then not doing it.
When your actions and behaviors are incongruent with your values and convictions, a breach of integrity occurs that wounds the self-esteem.
While most issues of integrity may be small (like snoozing your wake up alarm), their accumulated weight can compromise your self-esteem as you start losing face with yourself.
With each lapse of integrity, you stop respecting yourself until you reach a point when you can’t even trust yourself anymore.
Integrity is the only way to heal such wounds to the esteem.
The practice of personal integrity is the final pillar of self-esteem that serves as your own personal moral code. Without it, you have no basis from which to make the best possible decisions for yourself.
You can practice personal integrity by clarifying what matters most to you and questioning the standards that govern your world.
Practice the Skills, Master Yourself
Self-esteem is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes.
Think of the six pillars as different muscle groups that collectively work together to form a healthy and strong self-esteem.
Each time you practice living consciously, embracing self-acceptance, exercising self-responsibility, embodying self-assertiveness, living purposefully, and behaving with personal integrity, you are building a healthy and positive self-esteem.
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