A solidified understanding of self worth is not entirely attainable for most; in fact, in the most recent four decades, the concept of self-esteem itself has been both pondered by the general population and heavily researched in the social psychology field, in the hopes of developing a more rounded understanding of the ideal. It is undeniable that a person’s self-defined worth and inclinations they have about themselves, whether they are held in a negative or positive light, help to shape the concept of self-esteem, a direct relation to how one perceives themselves and the things they do. Your general perception of yourself is not the only thing that shoulders this weight; within their paper From The Top Down: Self-esteem and Self-evaluation, Keith A. Dutton, Jonathon D. Brown, and Kathleen E. Cook of the Department of Psychology at Washington University, outline how much of this social psychological phenomenon can be attributed to conformity, persuasion, cognitive dissonance, subjective well-being, as well as social comparative processes, to name a handful of factors. Not only do these socially found concepts contribute, but your career and the performance you exude may be a large factor when considering your own self-worth.

Evidently, researchers in the field have been working to not only expose contributors to both negative and positive self-esteem, but to implement innovative methods in which to expel factors that create a negative self-image, and boost elements that cater to an individual’s healthy self-esteem. Ph. D. and psychotherapist Guy Winch suggests within his book, The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships, and Enhance Your Self-Esteem, that the first step towards a more positive self esteem is to avoid generic positive affirmations, whether they arise on behalf of your own self, or a counterpart. The idea behind this theory is that falsities in the form of promises are much like giving substance to ridiculous white lies; you can tell yourself you’re sensational, yet if you don’t truly subscribe to this ideal, it will show in the end and the result will be a negative one, as these affirmations only prove to be impactful on the range of believability. Opposed to forcing false thoughts upon yourself, begin by focusing on a better tomorrow for yourself and the environment that shapes you.

Additionally, you must learn to properly identify areas of strength and competency within yourself. Winch states within The Squeaky Wheel, “to begin building your self-esteem, you have to identify what you’re good at, what you do well, or what you do that other people appreciate.” Ideally, you would begin by considering specific areas in which you excel, tasks you carry out effectively, work you’ve accomplished in your past in which you feel proud of. These aspects may seem minute initially, yet are crucial for building a basis for complete self-acceptance. Once you’ve identified your multiple strengths, Winch insists you demonstrate the ability you recently awarded to yourself, and actively engage in the things you do well; if you excel in literature, post a piece to a literary blog, or begin your own. If you have a green thumb, begin a small garden, or obtain a handful of small sprouts to grow from a bedroom window; progress is relative in all shapes and forms.

Once you’ve begun demonstrating your capabilities in a multitude of areas, people will begin to take notice of both your progress and talents; learn to perceive compliments positively, as low-self esteem can often make it increasingly difficult to accept positive affirmations. “Self -affirmations are specifically crafted positive messages we can give ourselves based on our true strengths,” says Guy Winch. “When your self-esteem is low, every ounce of nourishment helps.” Though this task may seem strenuous at first, the acknowledgment of positive statements and compliments is crucial regarding nourishing your newfound, positive self-image. Lastly, continue with the practice of self-affirmation — allow yourself the long-awaited reward of feeling gratified, proud, or pleased with yourself and your new accomplishments. Understand there is a difference between utter arrogance, and feeling genuine pride regarding the things in which you excel in, as to maintain the various skills you harbor, you must believe you have the power to do so.

While varying societal factors will always contribute to brief risings in insecurities despite how solidified your self-confidence has become, these methods will prove to help salvage the image with time. Persistence, and loving yourself without apology are the main methods in which to utilize to ensure you can no longer fall victim to your own insecurities.

Originally published at medium.com