How I Improved My Self-Esteem

My journey, and the six steps that changed my life.


Learn to Say No

I used to feel obligated to go out of my way to help friends and to say Yes to everything they asked of me. This lead to me consistently being taken advantage of and feeling hurt, which lowered my self-esteem. Because I was so overly generous, even friends who normally wouldn’t ‘use’ me, ended up making me feel used, and it damaged our friendship. I learned the hard way that when a friendship is out of balance, it often spoils.

So the lesson is this: Don’t be a people pleaser. Recognize that you have enough value as a friend without giving them any extra benefits. And if you do nice things for a friend and it’s not reciprocated, then stop doing those things and see how your friend reacts. Givers, like me, can’t be friends with Takers or it’ll eventually suck you dry and drain your self-esteem. You need to put yourself first and be comfortable saying no.

Don’t be a people pleaser.

How I Improved My Self-Esteem

Dwelling On Problems Is Not Healthy

My husband helps me see situations in a better light, and when I’m going through a tough time he’s quick to point out that things aren’t nearly as bad as they appear to be. He helps me to focus on the positive and stop dwelling on the negative. If you dwell on the things that have gone wrong in your life, you’ll be stuck under a gray cloud.

When a tabloid journalist I’d never met wrote a bizarre article speculating about my personality, completely fictionalized, my mentor, Richard Branson, gave me good advice. He told me to forget about it, move on, and not to respond. If you move past the negative in your life and try to find the silver lining in every situation, then you’ll soon realize that other people can’t damage your self esteem.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 160 Comments

  1. Avatar of Janet Day

    I lost a few “friends” last year. One of them shattered my confidence.

  2. Avatar of Edwina Thornhill

    Edwina Thornhill

    Sometimes, being too modest is a bad thing.

  3. Avatar of Agnes Hoots

    Agnes Hoots

    People always assume that I am confident because I always speak my mind when in reality, I just like voicing out my opinions.

  4. Avatar of Jennifer Kirkpatrick

    Jennifer Kirkpatrick

    Thank you so much for writing this article! I’ve been struggling with my self-esteem since I was little and out of all the self-help tips I’ve read online, this one had struck me the most.

  5. Avatar of Eleanor Honea

    Eleanor Honea

    A lady who wears too much makeup everyday screams that she doesn’t have self-esteem. Society has put too much pressure on our women.

  6. Avatar of Jennifer Baker

    Jennifer Baker

    They encourage pretty girls to be confident, but when a simple girl is confident but not that pretty, they bring her down. Wtf! Of course, everyone did this. But did that help you become better?

  7. Avatar of Janice Way

    Janice Way

    What is self-esteem and how do you take care of it? every time I get one, it dies within a few minutes. am I not feeding it correctly? LOL

  8. Avatar of William Dean

    William Dean

    I wanted to build up my self my self-esteem and confidence, but I don’t know what to do! How and when do I start? How can I help myself?

    • Avatar of Caroline Soloviev

      Caroline Soloviev

      Start now! Trust yourself, make something that makes you feel good! Do something unusual that empowers you !

  9. Avatar of Jamie Wurst

    Jamie Wurst

    But how can I change the way people treat me? Because that’s how I manage to fix my self-esteem issues.

  10. Avatar of Alta Johnson

    Alta Johnson

    I always doubted the compliments I received. I always thought of them as sarcasm. How can I determine the truth from a white lie?

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