How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind and supportive or fault-finding and critical? The conversations you have with yourself can be a reflection of your self-esteem.

Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself and your value as a person. Positive self-esteem is the foundation for healthy relationships with others and enables us to cope with life’s ups and downs, including illnesses, such as adjusting to living with osteoarthritis. While positive self-esteem isn’t a guarantee of happiness, it helps. People with a healthy level of self-esteem are optimistic, a trait that is also linked to happiness.

While everyone has moments of self-doubt, people with low self- esteem feel dissatisfied with themselves most of the time, which can be damaging for their health. The causes of low self-esteem can be as varied as severe criticism during childhood or a traumatic event such as a marriage breakdown.

If you are concerned that your self-esteem is low, try thinking differently. Our internal self-talk has a direct effect on how we experience life. When our thinking is predominantly negative, we may see things that go wrong as a sign of our failure, further validating the low opinion we have of ourselves.

Here are some ways to bolster self-esteem:

  • Talk to yourself positively 
  • Challenge negative ‘self-talk’ 
  • Don’t compare yourself to others 
  • Acknowledge your good points – accept compliments 
  • Live in the here-and-now rather than the past 
  • Don’t fret about the future 
  • Have fun 
  • Exercise – it will help you feel good 
  • Talk openly about your needs, wants, feelings etc.

With awareness and practice, self-esteem can be built up, helping make life more fulfilling.