Self esteem is defined as how much you like yourself. Self esteem is important because high self esteem leads to greater happiness and more positive actions. A high self esteem as a Muslim will lead you to do more good deeds, because you feel good within. Many counselors believe that the main cause of poor mental health is a low self esteem. Here are 5 ways to increase your self esteem, supported by Islamic teachings.
1. Be Aware of What Causes Low Self Esteem
Low self esteem can stem from childhood. Perhaps someone put you down as a child, or you faced a traumatic event. Being bullied or abused can cause low self esteem. As an adult, low self esteem can come from problems you have experienced, such as failed relationships or poor career performance.
You must understand that your life circumstances are not you. They are events that happened to you; they don’t define you. You are a soul created by Allah (swt), and Allah does not make mistakes. You are here to worship Allah and to learn and grow from your experiences.
True success comes from worshipping Allah and achieving His paradise, not from worldly achievements:
“Every soul will experience death; and then you will be given your recompense in full on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore; whoever is pulled back from Hell and entered into Paradise is the victorious one. And what is the life of this world except a deceptive enjoyment?” (Holy Quran 3:185).
2. Be Kind to Yourself
Do you treat yourself like you are your own best friend? Would you ever show your best friend disrespect or unkindness?
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Bukhari, Muslim). This hadith assumes that we love ourselves. But do we really?
The Holy Quran describes one man as being unjust to himself:
“And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself (18:35).”
This means that we can be unfair to ourselves.
Become aware of the negative ways you speak to yourself and replace them with positive self-talk.
Also, take care of yourself. Keep yourself clean and presentable. Give yourself adequate food and sleep.
Once the Prophet (pbuh) saw a man with unkempt hair and remarked,“Does he have nothing with which to comb his hair?” Upon seeing another man with dirty clothes he remarked, “Cannot he find anything with which to wash his clothes?” (Abu Dawud, Nasai, Ahmad)
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once asked a companion: “(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?” The companion replied that the report was true. The Prophet then said: “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” (Bukhari)
3. Appreciate Your Positive Qualities
Show thankfulness by writing two lists: one of your strengths and one of your achievements. Find a good friend who can help you. Read these lists everyday.
After some form of rejection, write down your positive traits. For example, if you faced rejection in a relationship, write reasons why you are a good friend or spouse. If you faced career rejection, write down reasons why you are a good employee.
Surround yourself around people who appreciate you. Be thankful for what you have and for who you are.
“…If you give thanks, I will give you more…” (14:7)
4. Take Responsibility for Your Life
Taking responsibility for your life increases your self respect and self efficacy. Self efficacy is your belief that you can achieve goals. Self efficacy is part of self esteem. When we don’t take responsibility for our lives, this breeds a victim mentality. We feel like victims of life, powerless. A victim mentality causes low self esteem.
“Surely Allah does not change the conditions in which a people are in until they change that which is in themselves” (13:11).
5. Accept Yourself, Flaws and All
As human beings, we were never meant to be perfect. Accepting yourself fully means that you love yourself unconditionally. You realize that you have weaknesses as well as strengths, and that’s ok. After all, Allah loves for us to ask His forgiveness for our sins and weaknesses.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “All the sons of Adam are sinners, but the best of sinners are those who repent often” (Tirmidthi, Ibn Majah).