“Do you think they like me,” she asked.
“I am sure, they do,” I said, “but what’s more important is, do you like yourself?”
This was a conversation with a teen today and that’s the reason for this topic yet again. I believe that before we decide to change our life for the better, we need to do a self-esteem check. Adults, kids and teens, us all. Unless, we have looked at our insecurities, our fears and self worth, we can not lead a happy, healthy and productive life. From chasing goals, to being motivated; from developing strong relationships to being resilient, a lot depends on how we see ourselves. So, here’s breaking down Self- Esteem
In psychology, self-esteem means a person’s overall sense of worth. In simple words it means what you think about yourself and how much you appreciate and like yourself. This encompasses your beliefs about yourself, your perception of your appearance, your emotions, and behaviors.
Self Esteem and Teens
A healthy self-esteem works wonders. It can change your attitude, perspectives and relationships with yourself and others. A healthy self-esteem allows teens to explore possibilities, take calculated risks and problem solve, skills that eventually help them to lead a successful and well-rounded life in the future.
Signs of Healthy Self-Esteem include:
- Ability to say no
- Positive outlook
- Ability to see strengths and weaknesses
- Ability to bounce back from setbacks
- Ability to express needs and emotions
Signs of Low Self-Esteem include:
- Negative outlook
- Lack of confidence
- Inability to express needs and emotions
- Excessive focus on weaknesses rather than strengths
- Feelings of guilt, shame, depression, and anxiety
- Belief that others are better than you
- Trouble accepting positive feedback
- Intense fear of failure
The good news is that self-esteem can be rebuilt.
What can you do?
- Use positive affirmations.
- Identify your strengths and competencies and develop them further.
- List accomplishments and celebrate small and big successes.
- Learn to accept compliments.
- Eliminate self-criticism and introduce self-compassion
- Practice positive self-talk.
What can parents do?
First and foremost, do not allow yout teen to go in to isolation. Communication channels should be kept open and it is important to find out where the source of low self-esteem is stemming from. If talking to your teen is not helping, seek the assistance of teachers, counsellors or mentors. Once the source of low self-esteem is established, parents can help by modeling self-affirming behaviors, practising positive self-talk, providing a non-judgemental space, and ensuring constant communication.
What can friends do?
Use positive affirmations to encourage your friend. Be encouraging and avoid judging. Offer emotional support. Do seek out professional help if your friend self harms or thereatens to do so.
Too Much Self-Confidence?
In most cases, knowing your strengths and having the assuredness are admirable qualities, but if your over-confidence makes you inflexible, opposed to trying new things, and incapable of listening to others, it can have a negative impact on your life as well. This can result in:
- Missed opportunities, because you assume something to be too easy
- Taking on too much, because you overjudge your capabilities
- Alienating friends because you come across as, ‘arrogant.’
- Relationship issues, as you might end up overly concerned with your own performance and do not pay attention to others.
A balance of everything is good. Same rule applies here. Start with positive affirmations and build yourself up, step by step.
“I like myself,” say it with a smile.
Or rather, “I like myself on most days. Sometimes, I like myself a little less, but that’s okay.”
(The writer is a teen- mentor/ mediator and conducts talks & workshops on self-esteem, positive communication and self-development).