Words That Heal: 10 Poems to Boost Your Self-Esteem

Poetry has a unique ability to captivate and move us, offering new perspectives on the world and our place within it. The power of poetry lies in its capacity to reflect the complexities of life and to articulate feelings that resonate deeply with our own experiences. This collection of 10 poems is specifically curated to boost your self-esteem. Each poem was chosen for its potential to inspire, uplift, and remind you of your worth and capabilities.

self esteem poems

Poem 1: The Power of Self-Perception

Sylvia Plath, with her haunting verse, often shone a light into the darkest corners of the mind. In “Mirror,” the poet laments the cruelty of unyielding self-reflection, a theme that weighs heavily on those grappling with self-image.

This reflective pond can be both kind and condemning, but Plath reminds us that it is ultimately ourselves who interpret what we see. We can choose to see beauty or ugliness, strength or weakness.

The power of self-perception lies within us.

Mirror – Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

mirror by sylvia plath

Poem 2: A Song of Endurance

Hughes’ “Mother to Son” is a narrative of resilience. Through the metaphor of a worn staircase, we are offered a simple but powerful analogy for life’s struggles.

The poem’s message is clear; despite the belabored climb, we must continue to march upwards. This poem serves as a reminder to keep going, to grow strong and reach the heights we aspire to, thereby infusing the reader with an indomitable spirit—an essential component of a robust self-esteem.

Mother to Son – Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

self esteem poems

Poem 3: A Quest for Resilience

Written as a plea to his father to fight the inevitable challenge of old age, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas transcends its personal circumstance to become a universal call for living with vigor and passion.

The poem pulses with the vitality of persistence and serves as a message to never yield, never give in, and to live a life that burns with purpose.

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

self esteem poems

Poem 4: The Echo of Resilience

Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” is an anthem of triumph in the face of adversity. It brims with a self-assuredness that is both contagious and empowering.

Each verse is an affirmation, a declaration that one will rise above the judgments and limitations imposed by others.

Angelou’s poem is a testament to the indomitable spirit, a notion critical in fortifying one’s self-esteem in a world that often seeks to undermine it.

Still I Rise – Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

self esteem poems

Poem 5: A Guiding Light to Self-Discovery

A perennial favorite, “The Road Not Taken” is a work of quiet reflection that speaks volumes to anyone struggling with choices and the fear of regret.

Frost’s words articulate the internal struggle of decision making and encourage the reader to forge their own path.

In the context of self-esteem, the poem is an encouragement to trust yourself and to take pride in the uniqueness of your own perspective.

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

self esteem poems

Poem 6: Illuminating the Inner Journey

With its celebrated lines “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,” Henley’s “Invictus” is a war cry for the self-sufficient and the determined.

Written during a time of immense personal struggle, it is a potent reminder that despite the harshest of conditions, we have sovereignty over our souls.

“Invictus” serves as a guiding star that illuminates the truth that self-esteem is crafted from the inside out.

Invictus – William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

self esteem poems

Poem 7: A Pact With Inner Strength

Kipling’s advice on stoicism and resilience in the face of hardship echoes through time. Crafted as advice from a father to his son, “If” is a reckoning with one’s innermost thoughts and fears.

It is a reminder that self-esteem is not impervious to life’s trials, but can be strengthened by facing them head on.

If – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

poetry to boost your self-confidence

Poem 8: The Art of Transformative Potential

With an intoxicating opening, “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron is ethereal in its celebration of inner goodness and virtue.

Byron’s poetic sensibilities lead us to understand that outward attractiveness must be underpinned by inner grace. It is a reminder of the profound harmony that comes from the union of inner and outer beauty, a concept that can significantly enhance self-appreciation.

She Walks in Beauty – Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!


Poem 9: The Ripple of Change

Clifton’s poem is a surge of excitement for the newness that change brings. Its simplicity and brevity hold a resonance that encourages the reader to not only face change but to rush headlong into it.

This poem is a testament to the potential for transformation that exists within every individual, a message that can inspire and uplift one’s self-esteem towards the horizon of positive change and growth.

I am Running into a New Year – Lucille Clifton

i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twentysix and thirtysix
even thirtysix but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

self esteem poems

Poem 10: Self-Love Reflected

In “Phenomenal Woman,” Angelou’s second entry on our list, we find a celebration of self-love and the acknowledgment of one’s own worth.

The poem is an ode to self-esteem, as it revels in the multi-faceted beauty that exists within every woman.

Angelou’s poem empowers the reader to recognize and celebrate their individual strengths, ensuring a significant boost in one’s self-esteem and confidence.

Phenomenal Woman – Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

life is poetry

Concluding Thoughts on these Poems to Boost Your Self-Esteem

These poems, each powerful in their own right, serve as reminders of the strength, resilience, and beauty inherent in every individual. They encourage us to appreciate ourselves, acknowledge our worth, and approach life’s challenges with confidence and unwavering self-belief.

By exploring themes of self-acceptance, change, and the celebration of one’s own uniqueness, these poems collectively offer a valuable perspective on self-esteem. They underscore the importance of being kind to ourselves, recognizing our personal potential, and facing the world with a sense of pride in who we are.

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