It’s interesting because you wouldn’t think that something like self esteem would be such a significant thing in life. I mean, the world around you says that what’s important is meeting your responsibilities. For example, making sure you get to school on time, attending each class, getting good grades, and participating in family activities are what’s expected of you. So, as long as those things are checked, then life should be fine. Right?
Yet, that’s not always true! What’s important, especially right now during adolescence, is who you are. And not having the opportunity to really know who you are, and more importantly, love who you are can have detrimental effects on your life. In fact, the developmental psychologist Erik Erikson said that adolescence is the most pivotal stage in life. During this life phase, teens need to work through discovering their unique identity, and by doing so, they will be more equipped to find success in the major life phases that are to come.
Self esteem could be described as having confidence in oneself. It’s having confidence in your abilities and having respect for who you are inside and out. Yet, there are so many factors that can contribute to having a low self esteem, especially during adolescence. There are expectations placed upon you by your parents, teachers, and peers.
Furthermore, those who do not have a high self esteem can be vulnerable to mental illness, such as depression or anxiety. For young female teens, having a low self esteem contributes to developing an eating disorder. Before mentioning some ways to develop self-esteem, the following is a list of thinking patterns that are associated with having a low level of self confidence and respect:
- Self-Flawed – I am inadequate, unworthy, or unlovable.
- Helplessness – There is nothing that I can do to change my life.
- Pessimistic – Life is chaotic, stressful, and miserable.
- Catastrophic – Something terrible is going to happen; I need to expect the worst.
- Resistant –Life is a battle; I must fight to have what I want, resist what I don’t want, and hang onto what I have.
- Victim – Other people and events are to blame for my life.
- Telescopic – I forever feel like a failure because I ignore my successes and focus on what is flawed.
- Co-Dependent – I need another to make me whole; I do not let others close to me or they might not like me.
- Resentful – I will never forgive others for what they’ve done to me.
- All or Nothing – I am either the best or the worst at things and there is no in between.
- Perfectionist – Everything must be perfect for me to be happy; nothing I do is ever good enough.
- People Pleasing – If I can get others to like me, I’ll feel better about who I am.
- Wishful – I wish I could have other things because the things that I do have are not of any value.
- Serious – Playing and having fun is a waste of time because life is too full of problems.
- Externalized – Happiness and satisfaction can be found outside of myself. Therefore changing the external world will help how I feel inside.
What’s great about recognizing these patterns is that it provides an opportunity to change them. If you see any of these thinking patterns in yourself, you can begin to work on actually thinking differently, especially in certain circumstances that might make you question your self-worth.
Yet, on the whole your self-worth should never be questioned. Ideally, it should be something that’s intact, no matter what happens. If you don’t have a high level of self-esteem, it’s pretty important to try develop it, and that’s something you can do. Here are some suggestions to do that:
- Be honest with yourself.
- Figure out your strengths and weaknesses.
- Don’t beat yourself up over your weaknesses.
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- It’s hard at times, but accept yourself.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Try to get the most out of your strengths and do your best, without demanding unrealistic results of yourself.
- Celebrate your achievements.
- Trust your own feelings.
- Take it one day at a time. Do your best each day.
And of course, if this is something you really want to work on, ask for help. Likely one of your peers are working through the same problem. Or you might ask a parent or a counselor for help. This is important! Do whatever you can to develop the kind of self esteem that stands firm and unshakeable!