Improving Self-Esteem

As we luxuriate in the emerging warm weather and the end of classes, you may be reminded of fresh starts and new beginnings. You might feel like you’ve lost touch with your sense of identity while battling winter’s hibernation.


Self-esteem impacts goal setting, openness to opportunities, functioning in interpersonal relationships, and overall mood. While some may feel that having a higher self-esteem could be perceived as arrogance, the reality is that having a healthy self-esteem is important for realizing life achievements and overall satisfaction. If you struggle with low self-esteem and negative self-perception, consider the following tools, and remember that you alone have control over your self-perception:


  • Identify troubling situations or problems.
    • Example: You receive a low grade on one class paper
  • Become aware of thoughts and beliefs
    • Example continued: “I am not smart. I am going to fail this class, and I might not ever graduate.”
  • Challenge negative and irrational thinking.
    • Example continued: “One paper does not determine my intelligence. It is irrational to believe that my entire grade is dependent on this one paper. Furthermore, I am jumping to conclusions by believing that I won’t graduate just because of one low score on a paper.”
  • Modify and reframe negative thoughts or beliefs.
    • Example continued: “While I did receive a low score on one paper, I can improve my grade by performing well on future assignments. I can ask for help if I do not understand a concept. This one paper does not determine my future success, and it does not mean that I will fail the class or never graduate. I recognize that my past experiences have led me to feel that I am not intelligent. If I look at the situation rationally, I can recognize that I am very skilled with completing math and science assignments; I just sometimes struggle at writing papers. It isn’t possible to be perfect at everything, and it’s normal to be better at some things than others. I am often too hard on myself.”


Utilizing the steps above, you will be better equipped to avoid self-deprecating thoughts, thus improving overall life satisfaction. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”


For more information and support, come visit Wayne State University’s (WSU) Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).  CAPS offers free, confidential counseling services to currently registered WSU students.  Among the options offered to support academic and personal goals are individual and couples counseling, group therapy, psychoeducational workshops, and case management.  CAPS is one of many offices on campus that provides support services to help students address the stressors of college life, such as Academic Success Center, Student Disability Services, and Career Services.  See the CAPS website at, and look for CAPS postings on Academica to learn more about programs to help you meet your personal goals.

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