Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Sometimes it can be difficult to feel good about yourself. We all have moments where we feel as if we could be or do better. This is especially true when going through the challenges of adolescence. During this time, teens can typically experience downward shifts in their self-image. The media (and sometimes your friends) is constantly presenting you with information that can cause you to feel bad about yourself. When a person has a positive view of themselves, negative influences have no power.  It is important to have patience with yourself, learn from mistakes and focus on your strengths.

Self-esteem is how a person feels about themselves. Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to achieve a goal or complete a task. It is possible to have high self-esteem and low self-efficacy. For example: high self esteem – “I like myself. I think I am a great person”; low self-efficacy – “I would never do well in college. I am not as smart as other people.” High self-efficacy is necessary for personal growth. Without it, a person wouldn’t try new experiences or develop certain skills.

Improving self-esteem and self-efficacy takes time. Be patient with yourself. Not every person progresses at the same pace. Below are some suggestions to help increase self-esteem and self-efficacy:


  • Limit social media. Social media can be a great way to communicate with friends and develop new friendships. But, it can also harm self-esteem and mental health. A lot of social media posts are edited to give the appearance of a life that is more interesting than it actually is. The world of social media has become a popularity contest of who can get the most “likes” and followers.   
  1. Stop saying “I should” or “I wish”. Live your life on the basis of what you believe is right for you instead of what others think. No two people are the same. Comparing your self to others only keeps you from identifying and fulfilling your own wants, needs, and capabilities.
  2. Lower your expectations. The road to perfection only leads to disappointment. When setting goals, consider any limitations that you may have, and work either around or with them, to determine the steps needed to achieve your goals. Setting unrealistic goals can give you a sense of failure if you do not achieve them. Instead, celebrate achievements such as completing a project on time, or getting a good grade on a test.
  3. Think positive. There are plenty of negative influences that seek to destroy your self-image. You don’t need to be one of them. Focus on ending self-harming thoughts, and work towards developing a positive thought pattern.
  4. Don’t focus on the past. Learn from mistakes and failures, and use that knowledge to do better. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. It is important that we learn from them, so that we don’t make the same ones again.
  5. Face challenges. Don’t avoid problems and difficult tasks. Instead, find ways to either work through them or cope with them in a healthy way, and ask for help if you need to.         
  6. Learn a new skill or pursue an interest. This will allow you to tap into your potential and discover other abilities or talents that you didn’t even know you had. You can also try finding a peer group that shares your interests, instead of trying to change who you are in order to fit into a peer group. Work on further developing any skills or talents that you do have: if you like to dance, try taking a dance class or joining a dance group; if you like drawing or painting, try taking an art class.