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Understanding self esteem can be confusing. There are many ideas surrounding self esteem. Some people think self esteem is about how much you like or love yourself but it does mean something different to that. Having high self esteem is a good thing. It means we feel good about ourselves. However not everyone has high self esteem and our level of self esteem can change.

Self-esteem is the judgement or opinion that we have about our own abilities, value and worth as a person.

People with healthy or high self-esteem tend to
• Feel confident in the face of life’s challenges
• Willing to try new things most of the time
• Have a sense that they can make changes when they put in the effort
• Recognise their personal strengths
• Give themselves credit when it’s due
• Realise their contribution in the larger scheme of things
• Have respect for themselves

People with low self-esteem often
• Doubt themselves
• Have a low opinion of who they are and what they can do
• Dwell on personal weaknesses
• Have negative self talk, eg ‘I’m not good enough’ or ”I can’t do it”
• Compare themselves to others continually and feel they don’t measure up
• Feel uncomfortable or suspicious of compliments/nice things being said about them
• Don’t like to try new things
• End up doing things that other people want no matter how uncomfortable they feel



You don’t just get self-esteem. It is something that develops from when we are little kids right through to becoming an adult. Our self-esteem is shaped by the messages we give ourselves and the messages we get from our parents, friends, families, community and other people that we connect with.

Positive or negative messages about our abilities and worth have more influence when they come from people that we respect.

The truth is that we all need a range of skills and support networks that can get us through life.
Skills such as:
• being able to communicate effectively
• being able to make and keep friends
• having goals
• being able to handle conflicts
• learning how to deal with setbacks
to name a few, will improve your self esteem and promote positive mental health.


• Hang out with supportive people who don’t put you down or make fun of you.
• Avoid negative self-talk and encourage yourself with positive self-talk.
• Try giving and accepting praise and compliments.
• Think about what you have learnt about yourself when you achieve something or when you have setbacks.
• “Do your best” - Have reasonable and realistic expectations of yourself.
• Try and participate and involve yourself in social activities/groups, eg. A sports team, the school choir, a drama production.
• Accept that NO ONE gets it right all the time and that being continuously happy is impossible.


• Self-talk is those thoughts we have about our lives and ourselves. Self-talk is something everyone does.
• These thoughts can have a direct effect on our mental health, which can be good or bad depending on what these thoughts are.
Can you think of any examples of Self-Talk?


Positive Self-Talk
Is about talking to yourself positively or ‘building yourself up’. 

One example of positive Self-talk might be if you are learning to play the guitar and you tell yourself you ‘will be good’ if you continue to practise.   Because you believe you ‘will be good’ this encourages you to you continue to practise until eventually you can play. 
If your Self-talk had been negative and you had told yourself you were ‘no good’, would this have changed your attitude to learning the guitar? 

Negative Self-Talk
Is about talking to yourself negatively or ‘putting yourself down’. 

One example of negative Self-talk might be if you compare yourself to people at school and tell yourself that you’ll never be as ‘cool’ or ‘popular’ as them.
If you were thinking in this way how might you feel?
You might think you are not good enough to talk to those people and begin feeling insecure around them. Thinking in this way will stop you from seeing your good points and stop you being as successful as you can possibly be.
Can anyone think of an example of positive self-talk in this situation?

Like anything, thoughts can become habits and these can be hard to break. So if your self-talk is always down on yourself it might be hard to believe the good things about yourself; but what can you do to change this?
Be your own best friend
If another person told you that you were fat, ugly or stupid every time you saw them how would you feel?   More than likely you would you dislike this person greatly and not want them around but also you would start to believe them.   Self-talk is the same. Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend. A best friend would always be supportive and talk to you in a positive way. Be your own best friend!

Check if you’re being realistic
During tough times in our lives, we sometimes blame ourselves and say things like "how could I be so stupid," "I'm hopeless," "I can’t do this" etc. and we can feel bad about everything. We need to calm down and check if we are being realistic. Asking these kinds of questions can help:
• Am I focusing on my weaknesses and forgetting what I am good at and what is good about me? 
• Am I being realistic?
• What can I say to myself that is more encouraging?

Next time you’re worried about things try using a positive thought to help encourage yourself. Write it down or say it out loud, it will stick in your mind and eventually have a positive effect on your feelings too.

Get someone else’s opinion too
When you are having lots of negative thoughts about yourself or about what's happening in your life it is sometimes hard to see things as they really are.   At times like this it’s a good idea to get someone else's opinion. Talking with someone supportive that you trust and respect can help you work out what is real and to get a more positive and realistic view of yourself and what is happening.

What Positive Self-Talk can do for you.
Positive self-talk helps you calm yourself down, feel more confident, and see things in perspective, but most importantly it helps to build a positive, supportive relationship with yourself. This is important to have so you can build good relationships with others and get what you want out of life.