Applied Psychology

How to Build Self-Esteem in a Digital World

Aug 01, 2023 | By Jenna van Schoor

Navigating a digital world can be challenging if you are unsure of yourself. We all have a core sense of self and worth that we want to maintain. However, our identities are ever-evolving, especially online.

Living in a complex digital world can involve managing several identities, both  in real life and social media. While we can consciously curate what image of ourselves we want others to see online, it can sometimes be at odds with how we feel about ourselves behind the screen.

To help you to build a strong sense of self in a demanding virtual world, we provide some tips and insight in this post.

Tips for building positive self-esteem

Firstly, it’s essential to define self-esteem: how confident we feel in our abilities and our level of self-respect. Now that we’ve clarified this concept, we can explore ways to bolster our sense of self in challenging situations.

Develop your self-compassion

Developing self-compassion is one of the key ways to build self-worth. A Forbes article, “How to build self-esteem”, says we should treat ourselves like we would a close friend or loved one in a similar situation. 

Treating yourself with this level of kindness is essential for building self-worth. Remember this when comparing yourself to others online and feeling like you fall short!

Try not to compare yourself to others

We can often feel despondent when we compare our lives to others online. However, the truth is that everyone, regardless of their perceived level of success, also has their own struggles. Many people are transparent on social media, but many use online marketing services to help them craft and hone their online persona.

If you want professional help to create and maintain your self-image, that’s an option if you have the resources. However, you can’t control what everyone thinks or says about you. So, an online identity is purely an intentionally crafted image of a person or brand and what they want others to see. 

As perceptions and behaviour can change, maintaining this image is constant work! With this awareness, we can be kinder to ourselves when we feel like we’re not living up to some perceived standard.

Limit social media use

With access to social media at our fingertips 24/7, it’s easy to get into the habit of mindless scrolling. While engaging with brands and other people can be a welcome distraction, checking social media constantly throughout the day can expose us to more information than we can process. 

Setting a cap on how often you go online can help to limit feeling overwhelmed or inadequate. There are also many apps available that block social media use while working to help you stay focused. Failing that, it’s also okay to delete social media apps from your phone and take a break when needed!

Set boundaries

Boundaries are flexible and communicate what does and doesn’t feel good at any given moment. Unfortunately, people with low self-worth may  people-please and struggle to say “no”. However, saying no to what doesn’t feel right can empower you to make better choices about who you follow online and surround yourself with in real life.

An article by the NHS called “Raising low self-esteem” shares that not knowing how to say no can cause resentment, anger and depression. So to prevent feeling overburdened and that you need to participate online constantly, it’s essential to set boundaries with what you share or who you engage with.

Focus on your strengths

Building self-worth is a process that includes learning how to reframe negative thoughts and navigate inner and external criticism. Building awareness is vital to recognising thought patterns, but another simple way to create a more positive image is to focus on your strengths and what you are good at. 

By engaging with information online that you are genuinely passionate about and that aligns with what you truly excel in, you can also surround yourself with more like-minded and supportive people.

Build a supportive community

Everyone has something to share, and online communities can be valuable resources and platforms for engaging with people who share common interests. 

To avoid consuming harmful content that preys on your deepest insecurities, it’s crucial to build a network of caring people who aren’t going to troll you or post nasty comments on your feed. 

You can’t control how others  behave online. Still, you can limit destructive online engagement by avoiding engaging with certain people or forums that you know are negative and triggering and can open you up to unnecessary criticism.

Ask for help if you need it

Navigating a digital world isn’t easy, especially as technology advances and our lives become more digitally focused. However, if you are struggling and need help, know that many counsellors and mental health practitioners can support you.

Learn more about self-esteem with SACAP Global

If you want to take your understanding of self-esteem further, sign up for our Building Positive Self-Esteem micro-credential. This short online course will teach you how to build a solid sense of self-worth and give you some practical tools to help you realise your true potential. 

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