Look After Yourself
Your body is as important as your mind. When your body feels good, your mind will feel good too. Never underestimate the importance of physical health. A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression.
Taking the time to look after yourself can be as simple of resting or taking a nap. Being in tip top condition can do wonders for your self esteem. Thus eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising are extremely important actions to incorporate into your daily life.
Prophet Muhammad also advised his followers to take care of themselves in this way by working, being energetic and being early risers. He said that a strong believer was a better than a weak believer.
And that did not only mean in terms of character and faith. His words also encapsulate the idea of achieving and maintaining optimal health and fitness.
O God, make the early morning hours blessed for my nation.
Any action without the remembrance of God is either a diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: Walking from target to target [during archery practice], training a horse, playing with one’s family, and learning to swim.
Eat of the good things which We have provided for you. (Quran 2:172)
Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth. (Quran 2:168)
Look After Others
Once you are well on your way to improving your health and fitness, it is time to incorporate looking after others into your daily life. Looking after others has multiple benefits and not just for those on the receiving end. Those who are generous and give of themselves gain many benefits from their generosity.
Understanding that there are many people in this world alone and suffering, often in silence, makes us realize how grateful we should be for what we have.
Research by Stephen Post indicates that when we give of ourselves, especially if we start young, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.
The concept of being generous is deeply entrenched in Islam. God tells us that we will be rewarded for using the blessings He was given us to benefit others. We will be rewarded by feeling good about ourselves. Thus raising our self-esteem, and we will be rewarded with more blessings.
The act of helping others will boost our self esteem. And knowing that your efforts make a difference will enhance your feeling of worth and usefulness. You will feel part of something bigger than yourself and know that you, just as you are, are needed and appreciated.
Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned. (Quran 2:245)
Choose Your Friends Wisely
Do these words ring a bell? You have heard them before I am sure, possibly in Islamic classes. Prophet Muhammad gave his companions lots of advice about choosing friends.
Modern day psychology also has a lot to say about friendships and how they influence you and your state of mind. If you are trying to raise your self-esteem, or maintain a healthy level of self-esteem, being picky about whom you hang out with is essential.
Basically, you want to have friends that make you feel good about yourself and not those who trigger your negative thinking, or put you down rather than boost you up.
For some people making friends can be really difficult. However looking after yourself, making sure you are healthy in both body and mind can help ease the path to making good friendships.
Perhaps you have already made friends in the course of your daily pursuits, at school or work or when you attend the mosque or Islamic classes. We naturally gravitate to those people who are similar to ourselves or have similar interests but to secure a friendship we sometimes have to step outside our own predetermined comfort zone.
Those people you meet when trying to implement your strategies for improving your self esteem just might be the friends you are looking for.
You will find your friends at the gym, in your running group, at the pottery or mechanics class you have decided to take or at Islamic lecture you attend every week. If certain things are important to you, your worship for instance, then it is best that you avoid people who make fun of your efforts to worship God.
Your friends should hold the same values and beliefs that you hold. Your differences, such as clothing and hobbies make your friendships interesting but if your core value system is not the same, the friendship may fizzle out because it had no solid foundation.
Remember that we are influenced by the people we surround ourselves with, therefore you need friends that support and guide you not those who lead you astray. You should choose them carefully.
Prophet Muhammad said that a person would be influenced by his friends, and he warned that everyone should look carefully at those they consider to be their friends.
And (remember) the Day when the wrong-doer bites his hand, and says: ‘Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (the Quran) after it had come to me.’ (Quran 25:27)
We have now discussed several ways of building self esteem, including looking after yourself and others, and seeking and maintaining good friendships to build a support network.
The power of positive thinking can make great changes, and accepting yourself as a good and decent person is a way to reinforce your self-esteem. On your never ending quest for self-development, the next steps include building up your self-confidence.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)
 Saheeh Muslim
 Imam Ahmad
 At Tabarani
 Bioethics professor Dr. Stephen Post, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
 At Tirmidhi, Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud