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What is positive self-esteem?

How we view ourselves reflects in our relationships. If you have an underestimated or an overestimated view, it is worth challenging it and thriving toward a realistic, accepting, and compassionate one.

We all have the potential to strive for self-development. Even if we didn’t grow up in a loving, affectionate, and accepting family, we still can change and become a better self. The level of self-esteem is not set once and for all in childhood. It can shift throughout a lifetime. We all make some choices we are proud of, or others that we regret. And that could influence our opinion about ourselves.

Ignoring our true feelings, avoiding solving our problems, keeping silent instead of stating the truth, staying in an unhealthy relationship instead of leaving, not standing up for ourselves, and not expressing deep needs. All can lower the image we have of ourselves.


To have positive self-esteem is to feel competent and worthy in your life, to trust in your ability to set and achieve life goals, and to take the necessary actions toward those. It is to understand that errors are part of the process, but you have the right mental attitude to accept and correct them if possible. Positive self-esteem is to show confidence in your knowledge and skills, in your capacity to learn and expand those if necessary.

To cultivate positive self-esteem means to work on improving your relationship with yourself by:

  • Accepting and valuing self, feeling worthy of love, friendship, and happiness.

  • Reducing self-doubt and increasing confidence in your ability to think and make decisions;

  • Managing the internal critic, understanding that it is a construct, not something you were born with;

  • Expressing your needs, wants, and opinions knowing that this is your birthright.

  • Increasing optimism and self-trust, believing and standing up for yourself;

  • Having high self-respect and expecting respect from others, protecting your boundaries;

  • Learning how to be proud of your achievements in a modest manner.


Improving your relationship with yourself starts with self-acceptance, with being on your side, with standing up for yourself. It is the ground value of respecting yourself.

People who are not on their side can offer help but cannot ask for it, even if they need it. Giving and accepting help is a sign of positive esteem.

Self-acceptance is to accept your body, your emotions, your thoughts, your actions, and your dreams as being ours. That doesn’t mean that we always follow our emotions or our thoughts with actions, but that we take an acknowledging and curiosity stance rather than a dismissive one.

People with lower self-esteem focus too much on weaknesses, failures, and regrets of things they do not do. In my view this is not accepting, this is seeing only one part of themselves and judging only what they see.

Positive self-esteem is to focus also on positive aspects, on their strengths, acts of courage, acts of service to others, and the support they have offered.


Accepting yourself is doing the work of being friendly to both your weaknesses and strengths.

Accepting doesn’t necessarily mean liking. It doesn’t mean that we cannot imagine or wish for changes. It means experiencing what it is without denial or avoidance and only from this stance we can pursue a change. Without acknowledgment and acceptance, we lack the motivation to improve.

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