How to motivate someone with low self esteem

How To Help Someone With Low Self-Esteem: 6 Tips From Therapists

Do I measure up? It’s a question that everyone asks themself. But for those who struggle with low self-esteem, it plays on repeat with an answer of “no”. When someone believes that their talent or skills are not worthwhile, it bleeds into every area of their life. As the partner or friend of someone struggling, it’s difficult to see how they view themselves and it can often make your relationship and day-to-day life harder. You want to help them. But how can you?

While it’s completely normal for instances of low self-esteem to pop up on occasion (especially for parents for whom there’s no lack of responsibilities and expectations), low self-esteem can be a chronic issue. This can be draining and toxic for the person struggling and, over time, everyone around them.

Being in a relationship with someone who has low self-esteem can be particularly tough, especially if you’re relying on them to contribute to the family. Before you can address your partner’s issues, it’s important to distinguish between low self-worth and low self-esteem. According to therapist and coach Laura Steventon, people with low self-worth believe they’re fundamentally worthless and useless, while those with self-esteem believe they don’t have the talent or skills to achieve success. “They are both equally draining to the person and the relationship,” she says.

Low self-esteem can manifest in a variety of ways. People struggling with it typically have very loud inner critics. They may be workaholics, people-pleasers, or perfectionists, and they may pick arguments to relieve the internal pressure they feel inside.

“It puts the person suffering in a cycle of push-and-pull with themselves, creating an internal tension and stress,” she says.

At times, you might find yourself just as stressed if you’re in a relationship with a person with low self-esteem. Your partner’s self-deprecating tendency could cause them to be controlling, jealous, insecure, or critical. On the flip side, Steventon says, they may be so passive that they don’t make any decisions or plans and leave you to organize everything, so you feel like you’re carrying the weight of responsibility.

Difficulties aside, it’s simply hard to watch someone you love be so hard on themselves. So how do you help someone with low self-esteem?

Unfortunately, says Billy Roberts, a therapist in Columbus, you can’t fix your partner’s self-esteem — and your own self-care might depend on you acknowledging this truth. However, you can provide conditions for your partner’s self-esteem to grow through validation and support — and, at the same time, develop skills that help you become a more understanding partner in the process.

Here are six ways to do that, according to therapists.

Conor Robinson

1. Validate their emotions

It may be frustrating to deal with a partner who’s insecure or unmotivated, especially if you just can’t understand why they’re so hard on themselves. But Roberts says the best thing to do is simply ask your partner about their feelings and accept them as their reality. “Too often, partners might try to argue with their partner’s feelings or talk them out of them,” he says. “However, feelings are like the weather: They’ll ultimately do what they do, and validating them can help you to be more patient and encouraging.”

2. Address the problem

If you’re ready to talk about the self-esteem issue, focus on the behavior instead of your partner’s identity –– your partner might shut down and grow even more insecure if you come off as harsh. Try pointing out in a non-judgmental way how your partner’s behavior negatively impacts your relationship, and let them know you want to grow in intimacy because you value them as a person. For example, you could say “I get discouraged from telling you how attractive you are when you dismiss me,” says Maryland-based clinical social worker Kimberly Perlin.

3. Don’t dole out false praise

In the case of an insecure spouse, it’s best to save the gratuitous gold stars for your preschooler. Therapist Jen Kelman, suggests avoiding false praise or “propping up,” which could come across as disingenuous and further detract from your partner’s self-esteem. “False praise or overcompensation is typically very obvious,” she says. “This can bring up feelings of unworthiness in your spouse and the feeling you must not really believe in them.” Instead of coddling your partner, focus on giving honest — but loving — feedback. For example, if you’re frustrated your partner didn’t do the dishes, avoid statements like “You never do what I ask you to do.” Instead, calmly tell them a tidy kitchen is important to you, and you’re frustrated that the dishes don’t seem like a priority.

4. Don’t do the work for them

Anyone struggling with self-confidence can benefit from outside support, whether from trusted friends or a therapist. It may be tempting to “do the work” of finding those support systems for your insecure partner, but Perlin cautions against it. Instead, find ways to let your partner have their own agency –– successes along the way will only help their self-esteem grow over time. And if they don’t see their behavior as a problem? “Explore with them when they would feel the need to get outside assistance so you can get an idea of their sense of the problem,” Perlin suggests.

5. Set boundaries

It’s easy to become drained and resentful when you’re dealing with a partner who constantly needs your help, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) stay resentful indefinitely. Marriage and family therapist Jenny Walters suggests maintaining a compassionate-but-firm stance that encourages your partner to take responsibility for their own behavior — and telling them what could happen in your relationship if they don’t. “Having a boundary is important,” she says. “Let them know this is their work to do, and that there’s a consequence to not doing that internal growth work.”

6. Prioritize your own well-being

Ultimately, your relationship is a two-way street. While it’s important to provide a supportive atmosphere for your partner, you won’t get very far if you’re burning yourself out doing it. Try not to stop your life or give up interests to address your partner’s struggle; it’ll only cause unnecessary resentment, which won’t help either of you. And if you find yourself in need of further support, don’t hesitate to seek out a therapist of your own. “You need joy and strength to continue to grow your relationship and self,” Perlin says.

Low self-esteem likely stems from years of negative thinking. It’s a difficult pattern to correct. If your partner is truly struggling, suggest (gently, of course) that they attend therapy. They may not think that they need — or even deserve — counseling, but there is help. And it can bring your relationship to a better place.

This article was originally published on

Raising low self-esteem - NHS

We all have times when we lack confidence and do not feel good about ourselves.

But when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can have a harmful effect on our mental health and our day-to-day lives.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.

When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life's ups and downs.

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.

What causes low self-esteem?

Low self-esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves. 

For some reason, the message that you are not good enough is the one that stays with you.

Perhaps you found it difficult to live up to other people's expectations of you, or to your own expectations.

Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement, can have a negative effect on self-esteem.

Personality can also play a part. Some people are just more prone to negative thinking, while others set impossibly high standards for themselves.

How does low self-esteem affect us?

If you have low self-esteem or confidence, you may hide yourself away from social situations, stop trying new things, and avoid things you find challenging.

In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations might make you feel safe.

In the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things.

Living with low self-esteem can harm your mental health and lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.

You may also develop unhelpful habits, such as smoking and drinking too much, as a way of coping.

How to have healthy self-esteem

To boost your self-esteem, you need to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself, then challenge them.

You may tell yourself you're "too stupid" to apply for a new job, for example, or that "nobody cares" about you.

Start to note these negative thoughts and write them on a piece of paper or in a diary. Ask yourself when you first started to think these thoughts.

Next, start to write some evidence that challenges these negative beliefs, such as, "I'm really good at cryptic crosswords" or "My sister calls for a chat every week".

Write down other positive things about yourself, such as "I'm thoughtful" or "I'm a great cook" or "I'm someone that others trust".

Also write some good things that other people say about you.

Aim to have at least 5 positive things on your list and add to it regularly. Then put your list somewhere you can see it. That way, you can keep reminding yourself that you're OK.

You might have low confidence now because of what happened when you were growing up, but we can grow and develop new ways of seeing ourselves at any age.

Other ways to improve low self-esteem

Here are some other simple techniques that may help you feel better about yourself.

Recognise what you're good at 

We're all good at something, whether it's cooking, singing, doing puzzles or being a friend. We also tend to enjoy doing the things we're good at, which can help boost your mood.

Build positive relationships

If you find certain people tend to bring you down, try to spend less time with them, or tell them how you feel about their words or actions.

Try to build relationships with people who are positive and who appreciate you.

Be kind to yourself

Being kind to yourself means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical.

Think what you'd say to a friend in a similar situation. We often give far better advice to others than we do to ourselves.

Learn to be assertive

Being assertive is about respecting other people's opinions and needs, and expecting the same from them.

One trick is to look at other people who act assertively and copy what they do.

It's not about pretending you're someone you're not. It's picking up hints and tips from people you admire and letting the real you come out.

Start saying "no"

People with low self-esteem often feel they have to say yes to other people, even when they do not really want to.

The risk is that you become overburdened, resentful, angry and depressed.

For the most part, saying no does not upset relationships. It can be helpful to keep saying no, but in different ways, until they get the message.

Give yourself a challenge

We all feel nervous or afraid to do things at times. But people with healthy self-esteem do not let these feelings stop them trying new things or taking on challenges.

Set yourself a goal, such as joining an exercise class or going to a social occasion. Achieving your goals will help to increase your self-esteem.

Where to find help for low self-esteem

Psychological therapies like counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help.

You can refer yourself for psychological therapies on the NHS.

If you prefer, you can talk to a GP first and they can refer you.

You could also find a private therapist. Make sure they're registered with a professional body.

Audio: unhelpful thinking

In this audio guide, a doctor helps you to replace negative thoughts with more positive thinking.

Media last reviewed: 2 March 2021
Media review due: 2 March 2024

Visit to hear young people talking about their experiences of low self-esteem.

Video: psychological therapies for stress, anxiety and depression

Animated video explaining self-referral to psychological therapies services for stress, anxiety or depression.

Media last reviewed: 14 March 2022
Media review due: 14 March 2025

7 exercises that will help increase self-esteem

December 12, 2020Motivation

People who do not love themselves find it harder to achieve goals and cope with difficulties. Simple actions will help correct the situation.



“No one will ever love me”, “I am too stupid to understand this topic”, “I am not strong enough to achieve this goal”. If you periodically say these or similar phrases to yourself, then you most likely have low self-esteem. And this certainly prevents you from achieving success and living a full life.

You can not only read this article, but also listen to it. If it's more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

You can increase your self-esteem with the help of seven simple exercises.

1. Refusal of negative thinking

We often engage in negative internal dialogue without noticing it ourselves: “I won’t succeed”, “I’m too lazy to achieve anything”, “I’m too ugly for anyone then like it." All these thoughts strongly influence our attitude towards ourselves.

The exercise is to write down any negative thoughts you have about yourself. At the end of the day, reread them and turn each one into a positive thesis.

Instead of "I won't succeed" - "I can do a lot, I can learn this as well." Instead of "I'm too lazy" - "I have achieved what I have, and this is already a lot." Instead of "I'm ugly" - "I like a lot of people."

Repeat these phrases every day for a week. Soon they will begin to appear in your head by themselves.

2. Cultivating a good relationship with yourself

Reread the negative thoughts you wrote down during the last exercise. Imagine that all these things about yourself are said by a close person - a best friend or family member.

Think about what you would say and write these words down. Say that you see good in this person, what qualities of him cause you respect. Say you love this person.

Showing love towards others is often much easier than towards oneself. When you "appropriate" your thoughts to loved ones, it becomes easier for you to see the big picture and understand that saying such things to yourself is ugly, rude, and generally wrong.

3. Let go of guilt and fear

For a few days, write down all the fears and sources of guilt that haunt you. Then highlight the ones that recur most often. Maybe you feel guilty because you miss going to the gym, or because you keep forgetting to call your relatives. Or you are afraid that you will not be able to achieve some goal.

Choose one of the selected items and write a permission for yourself. For example: “I have the right to skip a workout,” “I have the right to be forgetful,” or “I have the right to fail.”

Place this resolution where you will see it often: on your monitor, refrigerator, or next to your bed. The next time you feel fear or guilt, take a look at the note and you'll feel better.

4. Acceptance of one's characteristics

Almost every person has traits that he does not like. You know perfectly well what does not suit you in yourself, whether it is short stature, overweight or baldness.

Make a list of these qualities and write a thank you note for each of them. For example: “Thanks to my bald head for helping me to use less shampoo”, “Thanks to my height for being able to comfortably fit in any car”, or “Thanks to my stomach for carrying my child.”

You may not like some of your features, but they make you who you are. You can change your attitude towards them. And loving yourself is much more useful and pleasant than being forever dissatisfied with yourself.

5. Studying one's history

It is in our nature to compare ourselves with others. Social media has made this task easy: people post the best of their lives there, and it can often feel like your reality is much more boring.

To get rid of this feeling, it is useful to write your own story. This can be done on paper or digitally. Starting from the day you were born, remember and write down the important moments in your life. Those that are dear to you personally, and not those that would impress other people.

Maybe the first slow dance was a real event for you, or you remember your acquaintance with the work of your favorite writer. Throw in difficult decisions, too—these are important milestones. For example, leaving an unloved job or moving.

Refer to this chronology every time you feel like nothing interesting is happening in your life. You will see that you have been through a lot, and this will increase your self-esteem.

6. Examining your skill map

This exercise will allow you to get to know yourself better and understand what strengths you already have and which you need to develop in order to achieve your goals.

Make a list of your fundamental attitudes, beliefs, and traits. Then - a list of skills and strengths that you have developed throughout your life. Separately list your goals and dreams.

Then start building these points into a tree. You can simply draw it on paper, make an application or use a computer. The items on the first list (fundamental beliefs and attitudes) will be the roots and trunk. The second (qualities and skills) - branches. And goals and dreams are leaves.

7. Creating an Intention for the Day

Once you have figured out what habits and attitudes you would like to acquire or change, it is helpful to create intentions for the day. To do this, it is enough in the morning to choose an aspiration that will bring you closer to the desired result. For example: "Love yourself even if I'm lazy", "Be more patient with yourself and others", "Don't be afraid of change" and so on.

Once you have chosen an intention, write it down somewhere and reread it throughout the day. Over time, you will cultivate the desired qualities in yourself.

Read also 🧐

  • How to stop blaming yourself for all mortal sins
  • How to accept and love yourself: 6 tips from Lesya Ryabtseva
  • Why you do not need to increase self-esteem

5 ways to increase self-esteem - Lifehacker

September 4, 2016Motivation

We tell you how to increase self-esteem in order to become more confident, endure life's difficulties and recover faster from emotional wounds.



It's good to have high self-esteem, but it's not easy to achieve. Part of the problem is that this indicator is unstable: one day it can skyrocket, and the next it can go nowhere. The situation is even more complicated when we try to evaluate ourselves in specific areas of life (family, sports, work). For example, if dinner doesn't taste good enough, a chef will be much more upset than a person for whom cooking is not an important aspect of their identity.

It is important to know when to stop: excessive self-esteem can make a person very vulnerable. He will be fine most of the time, but any criticism will elicit a strong reaction. And this greatly hinders the psychological development of a person.

If you are still very far from such problems and would like to increase your own self-esteem, then follow our advice.

1. Use Affirmations Properly

Affirmations - self-hypnosis formulas - are very popular, but they have a significant drawback. They often make people with low self-esteem feel even worse. Why? When self-esteem is low, statements like "I'm going to be a huge success!" strongly contradict the internal beliefs of a person.

Oddly enough, affirmations most often work for people who already have everything in order with self-esteem.

But how can you make them work for you if your self-esteem leaves much to be desired? Speak more believable formulas. For example, instead of "I'm going to be a huge success!" tell yourself, “I will try my best until I get what I want.”

2. Identify and develop your areas of expertise

Self-esteem is based on actual accomplishments in areas of life that are important to you. If you feel proud of yourself when you have prepared a delicious dinner, invite guests more often and treat them to something tasty. If you are good at running, apply for a sporting event and prepare for it. Determine what areas you are competent in and look for opportunities to highlight it.

3. Learn to accept compliments

People with low self-esteem are in dire need of compliments, but at the same time they do not know how to properly respond to them.

Accept compliments, even if they make you feel uncomfortable.

The best way to avoid the reflex reaction of denying all the good things that people say about you is to prepare a simple set of answers and practice saying them automatically every time you receive a compliment. For example, say "Thank you!" or "That's so nice of you." Over time, the desire to deny compliments will disappear, and this is a clear indicator that your self-esteem is rising.

4. Stop criticizing yourself, be softer

If you constantly criticize yourself, self-esteem becomes even lower. To regain self-esteem, it is necessary to replace criticism with self-compassion.

Whenever you are unhappy with yourself, ask yourself what you would say to your best friend in such a situation.

Learn more