According to Webster's dictionary, self-esteem is described as "a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities. Most of us struggle occasionally with feelings of low self-worth. However, a California task force to promote self-esteem and personal and social responsibility, points to poor self-esteem as the single factor underlying social problems such as welfare dependency and academic failure. They believe that the boosting of self-esteem correlates with the reduction of crime, drug use, and other antisocial activities. They stated that "self-esteem is like a vaccine. Once introduced into an individual's behavioral system, it can help one live responsibly and ward off the lures of crime, violence, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, child abuse, chronic welfare dependency, and educational failure". Wow! You can certainly see how building self-esteem in the youth of today is very important.
One might ask, "how does self-esteem become so low in our youth?". Well the answer is years and years of negative thoughts, put-downs and negative critical comments. Now I hope the students reading this are asking, "well how can I improve my self-esteem?". That's a great question because I believe that we should focus on the solutions, not focus on how we got there. There is a great website that has a long list of ideas. You can visit KidsHealth to see the complete list but I thought I would list a few for you here.
1) Manage your inner critic - Notice the critical things you say to yourself. The put-downs. Would you say these things to a good friend? Then don't say them to yourself.
2) View mistakes as learning opportunities - Accept that you will make mistakes. Everyone does. It's part of learning
3) Recognize what you can change and what you can't - If there is something you can change, begin working on it today. If it's something you can't change, learn to live with it and accept it.
4) Accept compliments - Wow, this is a good one. Don't blow off compliments. Think about them and accept them as real. People sometimes see what you don't.
These are just some of the ideas you can use. Also, remember to help build self-esteem in your friends and family. Encourage others and let them know how much you enjoy them and how special they are in your life. Point out the things that they are good at or things that are special about them. We all need positive self-esteem to be successful. If I can borrow from a Virginia Satir poem called "I AM ME", she says; "In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone chose it... I own me, and therefore I can engineer me - I am me and I am okay".