By Krissy Melhiser, MSW, LCSW, Youth First, Inc.
Have you ever taken some time to think about your self-worth? Do you tend to build yourself up or tear yourself down with your words or thoughts? Self-esteem is an invisible force that makes up who we are. It can affect many facets of our lives, and it is something that can be ever changing.
Self-esteem is an aspect of our lives that is constantly being influenced. So, let’s focus on what influences can change the way we view ourselves with tips to boost and maintain healthy self-esteem.
Our relationships with others have a powerful influence on our self-esteem, and it is through our relationships that we start to receive and believe messages about ourselves. Young people find it difficult to be themselves at times, because the people in their lives influence what is considered cool, weird, or accepted.
As kids mature, the pressure of comparing themselves to others and the influence of other people’s negative opinions can foster low self-esteem. When you believe that you are incapable, lacking ability, or just not good enough, you reinforce a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
So, what can we do to help ourselves and the young people in our lives develop healthy self-esteem?
- Accept yourself. Embrace the fact that you are uniquely made and what you have to offer is what this world needs.
- Avoid labeling yourself. Try not to use words or statements that are negative like, “I’m stupid” or “I’m not attractive.”
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your strengths will help you believe in your abilities. Knowing your weaknesses gives you the ability to strengthen them and accept your limitations.
- Set goals. Working towards your goals will help prove that you are capable, which boosts your self-esteem.
- Be objective. Don’t take responsibility for things that aren’t your fault or blame yourself for negative outcomes. It can also be easy to blame others for conflicts that may not be their fault. Know what is true in the situation, take responsibility when necessary, and work to move past it.
- Avoid comparisons. Don’t compare yourself to others, especially on social media. It’s also important to avoid comparing other people, like comparing your kids to one another. We are each made differently. You cannot fit a square peg into a round hole.
- Communicate. Communication can be a difficult task for many. Assertive communication is the key. Clear, concise, direct and non-confrontational communication will go a long way. It might be helpful to use an “I statement” like this:
- I feel ______when you _____ because________.
- What I need is _______.
I hope these tips are helpful in creating self-esteem that is more positive for yourself and your kids. Just remember to practice! Failure can happen, but I like to think of it as a minor setback. Find the areas that need improving, make adjustments, and try again.