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 When I write about self-esteem readers ask if they can boost the self-esteem of someone they love.

That’s a tough subject, but not mission impossible. The thing is: self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves.

It’s always an inside job.


Nevertheless, aiding and abetting isn’t a felony. So …

… be supportive. Listen closely; understand why your friend scowls at the mirror while brushing their teeth.


Tell him/her you like what you see, always have … and why. Describe their valuable traits (there must be some if you have a true friendship) and express each characteristic directly.


Do it often and in person.

Don’t get into their careers, education or things like that (lousy performance reports or failing grades could be touchy subjects). There may be problems you don’t know about.

Let your friend vent about failure or lack of self-esteem without commenting or interrupting. Just listen. You aren’t a mechanic trying to determine why an engine sputters.


Focus on the way you see your friend as a person. Explain how much you value their friendship. Bring up times and events from the past that were mutually enjoyable or beneficial––even ones that are memorable for all the wrong reasons. You might both break into laughter over them––after years pass we see things in a different light.


Know how your own self-esteem works. Then, if asked perhaps you can share a tip or two. 

Share how you coped with a situation similar to theirs.

Constructive comments about mutual situations are good.


Keep this in mind: what was good for you may not be the solution. But it may be an option to consider.

If none of the above seems appropriate, just listen quietly. Sometimes that’s all a person needs.


It’s always an inside job don’t make it about you.

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