Improving self-esteem takes practice. But it can have such a positive impact on our lives. When we’re able to recognize our value and talk to ourselves kindly, we can work through problems, make decisions, and achieve the goals we set for ourselves — no matter who or what we’re up against. As we improve our self-esteem, we learn how to break the nasty cycle of negative self-talk and become more present in the experiences and relationships that bring us joy.
Healthy self-esteem starts in the mind. And it’s through meditation that we can train the mind to be calmer, clearer, and more compassionate towards ourselves. When we practice meditation for self-esteem, we learn that our criticisms and other negative thoughts are just thoughts. Not truths about ourselves.
We can’t stop negative thoughts, even if we try to replace them with positive ones, because the mind will always think. Instead, we can learn to give ourselves the kindness we deserve and boost resilience — two of the many scientifically proven benefits of meditation. Let’s check out how meditation can help judgmental thoughts mess less with our self-esteem.
Meditation can boost self-compassion, awareness, resilience, and other qualities that help improve self-esteem
A daily meditation practice can help us change our relationship with the thoughts and feelings that mess with our self-esteem
Try three meditations for building healthy self-esteem with Headspace
At Headspace, we like to think of the mind as a blue sky. Imagine it like a calm, blank canvas where thoughts, feelings, and experiences appear. The mind can get cloudy, dark, and sometimes stormy when our thoughts turn negative. It’s hard to remember that a clear, blue sky is behind the clouds.
We may find ourselves stuck on a cloudy day when we struggle with low self-esteem. We experience thoughts that tell us we’re no good or not good enough. Then we believe them, which only makes us feel worse.
Meditation helps us learn how to get back to that blue sky. Just 10 days of Headspace has been shown to increase satisfaction with life by 7.5%. How? With daily practice, we learn not to get so attached to our negative thoughts. We train ourselves to notice them, experience them, and let them go. This helps us avoid getting so wrapped up in negative self-talk, and eventually, we stop reinforcing the harsh stories we tell ourselves about the kind of people we are. We stop becoming our negative thoughts. When we can let the clouds drift away instead of obsessing over an impending storm, that’s when our self-esteem improves.
We don’t need much meditation to make a difference. Whether it works with our schedules to pause and take a few deep breaths or meditate for five or 10 minutes, any amount of daily meditation can help us be less judgmental with ourselves. Our self-worth stops being influenced by the world around us or inside our heads because we know how to get back to the blue sky.
True self-esteem comes from not believing the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. When we meditate, we learn that thoughts are just thoughts, and they don’t have as much control over us as we may think. See what great things can happen when we meditate for self-esteem.
Thoughts that make us feel not so great about ourselves will always pop up. But meditation helps us change how we talk to ourselves. We can reframe negative self-talk to self-talk that’s positive by choosing kind, loving words. Not critical ones.
When we sit still with the mind, let our negative thoughts come, then let them go, we’re teaching ourselves to be kind to our mind. The more we practice, the more we’ll be able to notice but not engage with self-critical thinking and tap into that confidence that was in us all along.
Awareness is the moment we notice and pay attention to our mind’s thoughts, patterns, and behaviors. With awareness, we can catch ourselves before buying into whatever negative thoughts or feelings pop up. Without awareness, we get easily thrown by them or feel like they’re controlling us. Maybe we think we didn’t perform well at work, so we say something critical like, “I’ll never get promoted.” Then we might start slacking because we don’t feel motivated.
Every time we meditate, we train ourselves to be more aware of our thoughts and feelings. With this new awareness, we can zoom out a bit and give ourselves a healthy sense of perspective rather than fall back into the cycle of negativity. When we realize the negative thought we’re having isn’t helpful, we can notice it, then let it go.
Think about the way we treat a close friend. Chances are, we speak to them gently and sympathetically, no matter what they’re going through.
Now think about how we speak to ourselves when we feel like we’re in a tough spot. Do we give ourselves the same kindness and understanding we’d offer a friend? Most likely not. But imagine if we did.
Research shows that self-compassion is crucial for our well-being. And one study found that the best way to tap into our self-compassion is through mindfulness. Just 3 weeks of Headspace has been shown to increase compassion by 23%. As Headspace teacher Dora Kamau says, “If we are kinder to ourselves, we can accept ourselves as we are. And if we accept ourselves, we can love ourselves as we are.”
When we’re resilient, our mind is cool, calm, and collected enough to help us “bounce back” from challenging events more quickly instead of letting them dictate how we feel about ourselves. So, when we have a hard day at work or a challenging situation with a friend, resilience helps us carry on confidently without getting stuck thinking about what we should have done or said.
Meditation has been shown to increase resiliency, making it easier to recover more quickly when we feel strong emotions. One study showed that 30 days of meditating with Headspace resulted in an 11% increase in mental resilience.
When we struggle with low self-esteem, we often return to a negative mindset out of habit. If we’ve been in this cycle long, it can feel normal to treat ourselves critically. But gratitude helps us see our circumstances in a new light.
Gratitude has a real impact on physical and emotional well-being. When we practice gratitude, we actually release happiness chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which can help reduce more challenging emotions like envy, resentment, and regret. Research shows that when we practice showing gratitude through meditation, it can reduce anxiety and depression.
The Headspace app has hundreds of guided exercises to help you build your practice. Start by searching these three meditations to help you improve your self-esteem. A happier, healthier you is a few breaths away.
Self-Esteem course. Move towards a less judgmental inner life by creating some space in your mind to observe negative and self-critical thinking.
Boosting Self-Esteem single meditation. Discover a sense of positivity and empowerment to lift yourself up when you’re feeling down.
Forgiving Ourselves single meditation. When we make mistakes, it’s easy to let our harsh inner critic take over. But showing ourselves kindness can help us show up better for our families.