Helping you get through tough times

The battle to healthy self-esteem

This is one young woman’s thoughts on self-esteem, what it means and how we can boost our confidence and sense of self.

Take away cup with the message 'note to self, I'm hot' written on itEveryone we meet is fighting a battle, or so we’ve been told ever since the classicists said so in ancient Greece.

The fluctuating nature of an individual’s self-esteem is something that will permeate each of our lives. Polish your armour and raise your shield – the battlefield awaits.

How you doin’?

Self-esteem is all about asking yourself the question; how am I doing? It represents your self-worth, self-respect and self-value. It encompasses belief, approval and appraisal of yourself.

Healthy self-esteem is intrinsically linked to our basic human need to be accepted by our peers and feel a sense of belonging.

When it’s bad…

Low self-esteem can come from anxiety, depression and loneliness. It can erode confidence, relationships and hinder your performance in education or the workplace.

People who suffer from severe low self-esteem can even get upset from positive feedback as they feel they don’t deserve praise or approval.

We might not all get this down about ourselves, but, chances are we’ve experienced some level of dipped self-esteem.

Appearances can be deceptive

Research found that only four percent of women across the world consider themselves beautiful. Even more frightening is the statistic that six out of ten girls are so concerned with their body image they’ve excluded themselves from social occasions.

Unfortunately, when it comes to looks, we’re often our own harshest critic. We have a mental picture of what we look like and just because someone appears confident doesn’t mean they feel that way about themselves.

Controlling the inner-critic

If you’ve ever heard a faint voice inside your head criticising the way you look, then you’ve met your inner-critic. Mine, for instance, kindly unleashes a back catalogue of Victoria’s Secret images in my brain when I’m laying into my umpteenth chocolate bar of the day.

Though this self-talk will never go away, it can be managed so that you’re getting positive, reinforcing messages instead.

Beauty in the individual

With a global population of over seven billion, why do we feel the need to conform to one ideal? Surely we should value our distinctive qualities and take pride in our individuality?

As a child, the remarkable and eccentric Diana Vreeland was criticised by her mother for her lack of beauty.

Vreeland, who came to be world-famous in the fashion and publishing industry, instead put her energy into improving her vocabulary, manners and sense of style. She maintained, “the only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”

Cherish what you’ve got

Don’t compare yourself to others and surround yourself with people who make you feel relaxed and comfortable. Foster your own unique sense of style and don’t be worried about other people’s opinions.

Look after yourself – eat healthily and exercise regularly: invest pride in yourself and your own sense of being.

Not all about looks

Standing up straight, learning to be assertive, and working on what’s positive in your life will all help to build confidence.

Laugh routinely and have fun. Be polite, try new things, have goals and aspirations, educate yourself about the world, contribute, engage others, and celebrate your accomplishments.

Boasting and arrogance are unattractive, but being proud of yourself, and working with your strengths rather than so-called weaknesses, is admirable.


The good news is that self-image and self-esteem is ever-evolving. Being happy in your own skin is a wonderful thing that can transform who you are and how you interact with the world.

The author Roald Dahl believed, “if a person has ugly thoughts it begins to show on the face….but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

Beneath the surface

Think of yourself like a present, all glossy wrapping paper, bows and ribbons on the outside, but ultimately it’s what’s beneath that people will cherish.

Working on minding your mental health will help to build up your self-esteem and strengthen what’s inside.


By Freya Drohan


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