Self-esteem or self-image is defined as “respect or confidence in one’s own worth or abilities.” In other words, self-esteem is how we think, feel and speak about ourselves. Too little self-esteem can leave you feeling defeated, depressed or prone to making bad decisions. Too much self-esteem can be off-putting to others and even damage personal relationships. The good news is that self-esteem isn’t set in stone. It can change. If possible, it’s best to strike a balance somewhere in the middle.

These tips are a great place to start building healthy self-esteem:

Manage your inner critic: Notice the critical things you say to yourself. Would you talk to a best friend like that? A harsh inner voice just tears us down. If you’re in the habit of thinking self-critically, re-train yourself by rewording these negative unkind thoughts into more helpful feedback. And hey, it’s not only okay, but important to love yourself in a compassionate, but not egoistic way.

Focus on what goes well: Are you so used to focusing on your problems that they’re all you see? Next time you catch yourself dwelling on problems or complaints about yourself or your day, find something positive to counter it. Each day, write down three good things about yourself, and/or three things that went well that day because of your action or effort. Focus on solutions instead of problems!

Mistakes are learning opportunities: Everyone will make mistakes along the way. It’s a part of life! And each mistake has a lesson to teach us. Instead of thinking, “I always mess up” remind yourself that it’s not about “always”, just this specific situation. What can you do differently next time? This is how we can always improve!

Set goals: Make a plan for what you want to accomplish. Stick with your plan, and keep track of your progress. Train your inner voice to remind you of what you are accomplishing. For example: “I’ve been following my plan to study every day for 30 minutes. I feel good that I’ve kept my promise to myself. I know I can keep it up.”

Accept compliments: When self-esteem is low, it’s easy to overlook the good things people say about us. We don’t believe it when someone says a nice thing. Instead, we think, “…yeah, but I’m not all that great…” and we brush off the compliment. Instead, let yourself absorb a compliment, appreciate it, and take it seriously. Give sincere compliments, too.