8 Powerful Tips to Boost Your Sense of Self

A strong sense of self is helpful for setting boundaries, understanding what’s important to you, and even for reducing stress. Nurturing your sense of self allows you to clearly perceive your own unique qualities and strengths – and protect your self love and respect.

Here are 8 powerful tips to boost your self-image, self-esteem, and overall sense of self.


1. Learn how to set healthy boundaries

Setting boundaries puts a limit on anything or anyone that requires your time or energy – both of which are precious and finite resources. Think of both entities like a budget: If anything that’s consuming them diminishes their value, it’s too expensive.

“Your personal boundaries contain your feelings, beliefs, values, ideas, and emotions – who you are as an individual. Without boundaries, others can begin to influence and sometimes dictate how you live your life,” says Lillian Rishty, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Midtown Manhattan.

“Setting and maintaining boundaries, in turn, makes you feel like you are the priority, allowing you to build up confidence and sense of self worth. In order to show others how we want to be respected, we have to respect ourselves and determine our own worth.”

2. Practice saying “no”

Keeping your boundaries in place often entails saying “no,” adds Rishty. This simple word puts healthy limits on relationships and prevents others from taking advantage of your time and energy.

“Saying ‘no’ can be challenging for people-pleasers, often because they don’t want to feel ‘mean’ or ‘rude.’ But assertiveness does not mean aggressiveness, and there are kind ways to say no – that show love to both us and the other person. Sometimes it helps to work with a therapist to learn these skills.”

Build up your confidence by practicing the following ways to say “no”:

If you’re invited to something, but unable to attend:

If you’re overloading at work, and can’t take on a project at the moment:

If you’re asked to help on something you simply can’t do:

Another reason it might be hard for us to say “no”?

“Sometimes it is because we don’t realize we are worth more,” Rishty points out. “Often, saying ‘no’ involves an underlying belief that the needs of others are more important than our own.”

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3. Practice self-affirmation and positive self-talk

Multiple studies have confirmed that the simple act of self-affirmation rewires your brain, reducing the stress that cuts off creativity and protecting your sense of self-worth when it’s threatened.

Practice speaking kind words to yourself. Pick one or two affirmations that really resonate and feel encouraging for you, and say them out loud several times a day and before you go to bed.

To add more power to the affirmation, write it down as you say it. Simple, easy-to-remember phrases like “I am capable,” “I am confident,” and “I am enough” are simple ways to encourage self-growth.

4. Travel as a means of self-discovery

Travel allows you to stretch outside of your comfort zone to experience new cultures, foods, people, and places. Stepping outside of your comfort zone allows more opportunities for successes – which, in turn, bolsters self-esteem.

Travel allows you to see the world outside of your norm and preconceived notions, and expands your perspective.

5. Do physical exercises that are right for you

So your sister runs marathons, and your roommate’s a yogini – but try as you might, maybe neither of those activities are quite right for you.

You already know a major part of taking care of yourself is taking care of your body, but that’s only true when you actually enjoy the activity. If running isn’t your jam, what about swimming? Would kickboxing help you release pent-up energy? Or maybe you could try taking up tennis with a friend or scheduling hikes with your partner?

Try a free intro class at a local studio to see if you enjoy the exercise – and more importantly, if it empowers you and your body in a positive way.

6. Increase self-awareness and decrease comparison

Every person has their unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Know yourself – both the good and the bad. Remember that neither defines your core worth.

Own it all: Self-awareness allows you to have a healthy and holistic perspective of yourself.

Play up your strengths by first recognizing what they are. This requires some self-discovery and taking time to get to know yourself. Take some time throughout the week to take notice of activities that energize you, and prioritize doing those.

As for activities that feel draining? Show grace to yourself, and develop them if helpful. Where possible, allow yourself to actively pursue growth in areas of perceived weaknesses.

“Self-acceptance is the understanding that nobody’s perfect and that – simply put – ‘messing up’ or things going wrong is a universal experience,” adds Rishty. “Along with greater sense of self, self-compassion gives you a greater ability to cope with negative emotions and increased motivation to keep going.”

7. Practice self-care

Self-care Sunday is a movement for a reason! Those cozy, self-love vibes make for a healthy mentality that you can apply the other six days of the week. What seemingly small acts do you need to perform so that you can feel your best?

Typical acts of self-care may include:

These actions can be big or small; the overarching purpose is to slow down, check in with yourself, and make sure you’re tending to your needs.

8. Try therapy for self-esteem

If you’re not sure what self-care looks like for you – or you could use a little help figuring out how to prioritize it – give therapy for self-esteem a try. A therapist provides a safe space for you to confront dysfunctional thinking, and identify patterns or habits standing between you and a healthier self-image.

You’re already wonderful – and the right therapist will help you see that! Check out Zencare.co to find your dream therapist today. Filter by Specialities to address your needs, then watch therapist introductory videos or schedule free phone calls with them to determine who is the perfect therapist for you.