May 31, 2013 - submitted by Florence, Canada

I've got a friend who has a very low self-esteem. What can I do to level up his self-esteem, to show him that he is not the loser he thinks he is?

The Oracle replies:

Whether you're friend has a specific reason to think he's or loser or whether he's one of the world's negative thinkers is unknown to me. I will make suggestions and hopefully some will be helpful.
Sometimes people have low self esteem because of things parents, siblings, teachers or kids say to us. We have to have thick skin to navigate through growing up. Some fare better than others. We are bombarded with success in many guises; beauty, celebrity, talent. It can be quite disheartening wondering what you have to offer the world when there are people gaining in status all around - school, screen, sporting arena...
I think the key is to find what we're good at rather than focusing on the negatives.
I'm sure your friend would find it difficult but try to encourage him to tell you the things he does feel good about. You know him better so perhaps know what limits you have with trying to help. He may be too private a person for you to involve others but if not, maybe ask his friends to each write down something positive about him.
If your friend is frustrated at his lack of ability or success (academically, professionally or privately) there could be ways he could improve if he feels the need. We're not all going to be great at everything so another thing is for him to not be so hard on himself. Self-judging can be very harsh as if we're seeking perfection - which could be somewhat unattainable.
You may know I like goal setting - he could write down what he wants, and by when and then a list of how he's going to achieve it, it may help him focus. Again, without any berating for failures. 'If at first you don't succeed, pick yourself up & try again' is a good motto to have for such things.
Many of us seek validation so maybe he's not getting that from anyone - but you - he probably won't take it from himself as he won't necessarily believe it which is why I am not suggesting any positive repetitive mantras.
I think it's important not to indulge someone too much as they can stay stuck when they're getting the attention. It's ok for you to be firm with him when helping.
He needs to surround himself with happy people - negativity can rub off and bring people down. Encourage him to have time every day to have a good moan about all the things he hates if he wants but then to project a different side. A side that is thankful for all the blessings in his life. If he sees and appreciates what he's got, he may see it outweighs what he hasn't. Try to get him to spend time doing what he loves and things he's good at. You can then point out the good in his life. Reaffirming this over time will hopefully help him as there isn't a switch to make it happen immediately.
Over to you.

If there are people in your life, who criticize, judge, manipulate or hurt you in any way - remove them. They are toxic. Negativity can be easy to spot OR extremely subtle. These people can be friends, co-workers, and even relatives. You must maintain a protective distance. Many of these people, themselves, are hurting on the inside and some may not realize that they're hurting others.
Please, do not ever define yourself by anyone else's standards. Money, social status, and physical appearance are all very superficial ways to measure your worth. They are not real. They say nothing about the beauty of your soul.
You are beautiful.You have a light inside of you that is worth protecting. You have talents and gifts to share with the world. It can be difficult, I know, but please try to think about the wonderful things you have to offer.
I've spent the better part of 38 years fighting my own self-esteem issues. I still struggle daily. I've distanced myself from, or completely cut out, people in my life who don't provide positive support & unconditional love. Yes, it can be lonely at times. But I'd rather be a little lonely, than be surrounded by people who create turmoil and chaos.
It's a constant fight to keep your light alive, so that it may shine brightly. Love, Angela.

To help increase his self-esteem and confidence, help him become aware of his strengths and resources. Even if he has many crosses instead of ticks, alongside weaknesses, he certainly has shown some of his strengths from time to time. By pointing out how he has succeeded in a past task/situation, you are giving him a powerful resource upon which he can build.
Also try spending lots of time with him. Tell him how the future still awaits, and that it has only just begun. Try to give him reasons to be happy about himself. Make him dress nicely so he can like himself, make him look good to himself. (Now that does not mean spending a heap load of money on lots of cheap clothes, but rather spending the same amount on very good looking ones, that make him stand out.)
I hope your friend gets better, I know you can make him feel so because you're awesome! Solaf.

I came across this quote and fell in love with it... "Today you are You, that's truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you. " Dr Suess. Laurie.

Sometimes I have the same feelings as your friend. I always listen to this beautiful song from Ralph McTell - Streets of London. Then I realize that I'm not having a really bad life.
I hope your friend will feel the same after listening to the song. Greetings, Eelco.

Low self esteem is stemmed from the ego, a gentle massage of the said ego would be a pick up for your friend. Sarah.

Give your friend a task of any kind which you are sure of he can accomplish it. When he completed the task, he'll think he can do more and that he isn't useless. That's how you can better his self-esteem. Tim.

Your friend needs to know that they are unique and that they should learn to accept themselves in order to feel confident and boost their self esteem. It is very hard for anyone to be who they are without the need of fitting in, once they start thinking that they need to fit in with the cool crowd, they will loose who they are and never feel like they are cool enough to be in the cool crowd. Your friend does not need to fit in anywhere, they should lead by being themselves and people will want to be like them instead. Positive reinforcement is what will also majorly impact on their self esteem, so as a fried you need to make them feel strong and always have your friends back, because once they know that no matter what you will be there for them, they will be more confident in being themselves. Hope this helps. Lots of love. Peace. Boikevich.

It's tough when your friend has a low self-esteem. As the true friend you are, you should do everything and anything to cheer him up. Perhaps he just wants to talk? Be there for him. Sometimes, the only thing people want is to be heard.
If you really know him you should know what makes him happy. Another thing you can do, is to give compliments for things he's good at and tell him why you appreciate him for being himself. I think a lot of people these days have low self-esteem because of society and media. Because of media, people think that they aren't good enough to be themselves, so they have to pretend that they're like everybody else. It's sad but true. This is the best advice I can give you now. Hope everything works out and that your friend gets his self-esteem back. Mirna.

It's such a sad thing to know that we have friends who sometimes or often have low esteem but there are many ways to involve their self-confidence and help them to get better. Encourage him whenever he does something good or special. Show him that he did wonderful things. He deserve like everyone the best.
I wish you all the best dear Florence and thank you for caring about your friends. Hasnaa.

These 10 ideas that can boost your self-esteem:
1. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
2. Don’t put yourself down.
3. Get into the habit of thinking and saying positive things about yourself to yourself.
4. Accept compliments.
5. Use self-help books and websites to help you change your beliefs.
6. Spend time with positive supportive people.
7. Acknowledge your positive qualities and things you are good at.
8. Be assertive, don’t allow people to treat you with a lack of respect.
9. Be helpful and considerate to others.
10. Engage in work and hobbies that you enjoy.

Well for starters I would pat him in the back and tell him that he is gorgeous and that bringing himself down will not help him in life. Then I would do whatever to make him feel special and I would remind him all the things he has done for me like always being there for me and being a great friend. I would always encourage him to take risks in life and be there for him when it feels like the boat is sinking.
I would always give compliments on him when he is being awfully harsh on himself and as a friend I would never stop believing in him, even if the whole world (including him) has. Rhea

I've dealt with similar problems, not just with friends but also myself. What helps me most is to be involved with things I love. If I am feeling really bad about myself I'll try to do something or participate in many things that make me feel like I have a sense of character. If I admire something in someone I'll try to consider it and include it in my own life. This can be a bit dangerous as you don't want to fully imitate someone, but I just mean general ways of life. For example if someone who is really kind or uplifting touches the lives of others, then the others might follow them in a similar direction. Because then, if I do start to have negative thoughts, ill have to stop myself and remember that there are certain things about me that I admire. Ill be forced to like myself at least a bit! This might be weird but I hope it makes sense. I also think writing things down helps a lot. Then you can look back and analyze your thoughts and experiences. It also makes you feel that whatever you're going through might serve a purpose later on, in your life or someone else's. Wish you and your friend the best. Love, Darem.

I think you can help your friend by reminding him of the things he's good at. It's impossible not to be good at something. We all are blessed with gifts, some of us haven't even discovered yet. We just have to look within us. You can help your friend find that gift he has. Opportunities are everywhere so go encourage him to get out there and seize the day! He will find himself in the process. Last but not the least, tell him two things - why he's a good friend and why he's important to you. Cheska.

I would suggest helping your friend by assisting him in finding things that he will reach his full potential in. You'll feel better about yourself if you do things well! Also, encourage him whenever possible. You don't have to be a kiss-up, just a few nice words here and there can really make someone feel better about themselves. Jasmin, Florida.

Self-esteem is a tough thing to change in someone else because it is a "self" perception and can only be truly changed by the individual in question. That being said, as a friend there are things you can do that will help your friend to see his true potential. Focus on one thing that your friend does very well; whether it be music, art, video games, gardening...whatever it is! Give your friend positive feedback about his particular talent and find ways to tell him that he's a good friend. Eventually he should begin to think about himself more positively in this one aspect and hopefully that will branch out to other areas as well. Connie.

Tell all his friends they should write in a letter what your friend has done for them and what they all think about him. For example a friend of mine saved my live when we were 8 just because she hit my back as hard as she can and I'm sure she even didn't know that. Greetings, Nicole.

In my opinion, self-esteem is given by the others. Because people do care about how do others look at ourselves. People with low self-esteem care too much of this stuff, just like your friend. As your friend's friend, what you need to do is giving it to him, let him feels that he is special, he is talented, he is the one you want to be friend with, which is true.
First of all, find out what your friend is good at, then encourage your friend to do it, and you are going to join him, let him enjoy it. I truly believe that your friend must can gain his self-esteem through this. For example, let him play guitar if he's good at it, and trust me, he would have fun with you. You do not need to say anything special, just let him know where he belongs to! When you are so skillful and have fun in whatever you are doing, life is just better. Then what else does your friend need to worry about?
Try it. And wish you friend can be a happy person but not that loser that he thinks he is! Love, Gi.

I write from Italy. I will not lie, I'm feeling in the same way of your friend, I am a girl, a dreamer young girl, but I feel exactly like this friend of yours, in this world has become difficult to believe in yourself when you are not born proud of yourself, as friend you should do to remind him every day because he is special, what makes it special, something different every day, something you appreciate about him, that little things for you will be normal but for him will be a pleasant discovery. You can see something that he not notice. Something makes him to think different about himself, from a 'loser' to another. I'm lucky to have friends like my description and that helps a lot. Love, Anna.

Your friend should understand the importance of having control of our belief system. What controls our lives are the meanings we associate to the things in our lives, which are shaped by our own personal psychology and our worldview. For example, two people may experience the same event, where one person thinks, “Life is punishing me. I might as well die, “and someone else on the other hand thinks, “Life is challenging me. This is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.” The perceptual difference not only affects the quality of each person’s life, but which actions they take next.

This applies to your friend. The words you or anyone attaches to an experience, actually becomes the experience.

Tell your friend to modify his focus (whatever he focuses on, he will feel) , his pattern of language (as soon as we put words to an experience, it changes the meaning we experience) and his physiology (how we use our physical body actually makes a difference).

These steps will become beliefs, which then become result, and finally the pattern of your friend thinking he is a loser is cut from the root. Jaime.

First and foremost study the reason why your friend have a low self esteem, as there are two main factors, which are: shyness and fear. If u can know this, then the problem has been solved.
Now if it is that such a person is shy, u just have to make him or her know the advantages of overcoming timidity, but if it fear, you have a whole lot of work to do, as it might even involve in one doing practical examples for such a fellow that has low self esteem. They might be afraid of being criticised if they do a particular thing or that people will simply laugh at them,but as a good friend you just have to let he or she know that, they need not care about the view or let what others think about them control their attitude,as its negative effect will lead to one having low self esteem. Thanks. John.

I think the first step to do in order to level up his self-esteem is to show him the positive characters he has.make him feel like he's a wonderful, individual, and special person. Then, remind him that making mistakes is human, and that nobody is built perfect. Show him other people's negatives. Tell him that he may think he's a failure but someone out there thinks he's the most brilliant. Finally, give him a mirror and tell him to look at his face and be confident of himself. Yours sincerely, Jazmyn.

Some of the best people in my life think the same thing as you do. What you need to do is tell him how he may look at himself as, well, a loser, but remember, he makes a difference in your life. Thats really important for him to know. No matter how negative his self-esteem may be, he should have a positive out look on himself, because he has a friend that truly cares about him. Remember, you can never have too much confidence! Meg.

First I’d talk to him about the importance of self-love. Without it we can’t accomplish anything; our relationship with the world and other people depends on our relationship with ourselves. Then I’d point out to how special he is for being unique in the world and in the Universe. I would tell him not to be so hard on himself, it’s alright to fail at whatever we do and take lessons from it, gain experience. I’d encourage him to look into his heart and find what he loves. Then do things just because he loves so, there's no need to proove the world anything.
Self-esteem is something one must work from within, there’s not much others can do in the outside if the person doesn’t work it by himself. This is a process that takes time, so I’d just be very patient and understanding, no judging, and just be there whenever my friend needed an encouraging word and a hug. Carina B.

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