Loving yourself and knowing your strengths are vital to being a successful person. The Torah directs us to, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which means that the prerequisite to loving others is to love yourself first. Hillel the Elder, exhorts us: “ ... If I am not for myself, who is for me?” (Avot 1:14)

Low self-esteem and the inability to see our greatness as G‑dly people is the root cause of many of our problems and the reason we don’t reach our utmost potential.

So let’s discuss ways to raise our self-esteem and love ourselves more, so that we can become even more!

1. List what you have accomplished.

You can include things like learning to ride a bike or drive a car, learning to play an instrument, type or crochet, getting your high school diploma or renting an apartment. We tend to disregard accomplishments that most people do. But every skill we master, every contribution we make, is significant and adds up. With every skill mastered and every milestone passed, we gain confidence in our capabilities, and this encourages the belief in our ability to brave something new. Once you’ve put together your list, continue to add to your accomplishments. It doesn’t have to be big; it could be successfully attempting a new recipe, learning a new computer program or mastering a prayer in Hebrew.

2. List how you have contributed to the world.

Do you volunteer? Give charity? Remember people’s birthdays? Write “thank you” notes? Anything you do to make the world a better place stretches you as a human being. The more positive influence you have, the more you interact, give and matter to others, the more of your potential is being put to use. Writing down the deeds of kindness you do for others will provide you with a tremendous sense of gratification and help you realize how you are contributing to our world. It will also increase your desire to keep doing so.

3. List your positive attributes.

Make a list of good things about yourself; it can be that you have a witty sense of humor or a warm smile, a good memory or a knack for languages; you’re a good cook or give wise advice. (Incidentally, even negative attributes can be used for the good. We are meant to use all of our personality traits to serve G‑d in a positive way. Getting angry is forbidden, but if we are angered by injustice and then use that to motivate us to fight it, then we have used that characteristic for the good.) List your positive attributes or the nice things people say about you, and then prioritize the top five. Those are the areas in which you can excel by looking for more opportunities to express them.

4. Cut yourself some slack.

We all have bad days; we all make mistakes. Each of us has regrets, but these shouldn’t form the core of your opinion of yourself. When you’ve made a mistake, fix it, make amends and resolve to avoid making it again, but don’t dwell on it forever or carry it around with you. Instead, carry around your successes. A thousand successes are lighter than 10 regrets. Instead of reviewing your mistakes, review your achievements. Thinking about the good you do and the good you’ve done attract more opportunities to do good because that is what you are focusing on.

5. Pamper yourself.

We (especially women) spend so much time taking care of other people. Often, we only take care of ourselves—even our basic necessities like sleeping and eating—once everyone else has been taken care of. We can’t feel good if our bodies aren’t operating at maximum efficiency. The Torah commands us to take very good care of ourselves, physically and mentally. Sleep well, eat well and play well. Make sure you do things just for you; read a good book, go for a massage, take a walk, go for a coffee with a friend, go shopping and buy yourself a present. Something just for you.

6. Surround yourself with people who reaffirm your value.

It’s hard to love yourself if you don’t have loving people around you. Divest yourself of critical people and insincere friends. Surround yourself with people whose attributes you would like to model, who encourage and validate you, and who treat you with kindness and respect. We need a cheering section, not a critical review committee.

7. Challenge yourself. Do what’s hard.

We all feel an adrenaline rush after we’ve overcome an obstacle. Challenge yourself in some area of your life—learn a new skill or a new language, study Torah, train for a marathon or work on a character trait you would like to improve, like not gossiping or yelling. Set short- and long-term goals for yourself and chart your progress. Then add your successes to the list of your achievements.

8. Imagine yourself doing good.

If you imagine yourself doing a heroic or philanthropic act—even if you are not in a position to actually do it—it releases endorphins in your brain. It’s as if you actually did it, and it may even make it possible to do it in reality. When you fantasize a bit about being a hero, it will also give you clarity about what causes are important to you. You can then join forces with people working for these causes to make the world a better place.

9. Do what you’re good at.

There’s nothing, but nothing, that makes us feel as good about ourselves as exercising our strengths. We all have skills and talents, those areas we excel at. Too often, they’re put on the back burner. Even if you can’t be an Olympic athlete, a celebrated author or a famous musician, you can still practice your sport, write poetry or rehearse. Even if you aren’t an English major or mathematician, you can do crossword puzzles and Sudoku. Our talents are G‑d-given for our use and self-expression.

So don’t say you’ll sing, write, compose, paint, volunteer, study Torah or hone your craft when you have time, are retired or have the energy. Do it now—today! Set time aside to soar, and you’ll love yourself even more.