Self - Esteem:
Feeling Good About Yourself
What does it mean?
" Self"-that's easy. That's you! "Esteem" -this
word is a bit trickier. It is not a word that most young people use on
a daily basis. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will find-- "Esteem-
to hold in high regard" which means "to really like a lot." For
example, you really like your best friend or your grandmother. You get the picture. These
are people you trust, respect and enjoy spending time with.
So, let's look at the word self-esteem again.
Self(you)-esteem(to like a lot)…means
you really like yourself a lot, both inside and out…how you
look as well as what you believe in.
Sometimes it's easy to like who you are. You feel great
when you score a goal, ace an exam, or tell a joke that everyone
laughs at. But, how do you feel about yourself when you just
said something mean, or when you think you got a bad haircut? You
start wishing you were someone else or that you could change how
you look. You think you aren't good enough…in school,
on the team, or for the cool crowd. This is "low" or "negative" self-esteem.
Self-esteem…means you like yourself…all
the time, not just when things are going great!
The good news is you can learn to like yourself or
have positive self-esteem all the time. You are the one in
control; you can make the difference. But sometimes, you let others
tell you how to feel about yourself. From the day you were born,
your family, then your teachers and friends, have been influencing
your decisions. TV shows, movies, music videos and magazines
influence what we wear, how we feel and how we act..
So why is it important to have positive self-esteem
if everyone is going to tell you what to do, what to wear and what
As a young adult, you now have more responsibility to choose
between right and wrong. You become accountable for your actions. Positive
self-esteem gives you the courage to be your own person and to believe
in your own values when the pressure is on to make a big decision.
Your friends can put a lot of pressure on you.
You want to be part of a group or crowd. Belonging to a group is a part
of growing up, learning to be a friend and learning about the world around
you. It's OK to want to be liked by others. But not when it means giving
in to pressure. Your friends are now making many of their own decisions. And
their decisions may or may not be good for you. It's never worth
doing things that could hurt you or someone else. For instance, abusing alcohol
or other drugs, having sex before you are ready, joining a gang, or quitting
school can all lead to trouble.
Think about what can happen if you give in to the wrong
decision. Drinking or doing drugs and driving can lead to serious
injury or death. Unprotected sex may lead to pregnancy, STD's (sexually
transmitted diseases) or AIDS. Joining a gang may lead to illegal
behavior and maybe jail. And quitting school takes away your best
chance to be successful later in life. It is not always going to
be easy to stick to your values, but you will be happier if you do
Think for yourself!
Only you know what is best for you. If you let your
friends think for you, you won't be working toward your personal
goals for your future. When you value and respect yourself, it keeps
you from making bad decisions that may affect the rest of your life.
Feeling good about yourself
helps you to:
Accept challenges. Try a new sport or audition
for a play. And if you don't make the team or get the lead in the
play, you will at least enjoy trying and learning more about yourself!
Enjoy your life. Happy people are fun
to be around. A happy outlook helps you to make and keep friends.
Believe in yourself. If you think you can do something,
you are more likely to do it!
Stay flexible. Life is changing all the time. You can't stop it but you can
learn to change with it.
OK. You think that having "positive" self-esteem
is a good idea. How do you get it?
-Be honest with yourself. Figure out what your strengths
and weaknesses are. Don't beat yourself up over your weaknesses.
Don't compare yourself to others. Learn to accept yourself.
-Set realistic goals for yourself. Try to get the most out of your strengths
without demanding or expecting too much of yourself. Take one day at a time.
Do your best each day.
-Trust your own feelings. Listen to yourself. Pay attention to your emotions.
-Enjoy yourself when you have achievements. Celebrate your successful efforts.
Don't downplay them.
Do you know these answers?
1.Is it easy to change your self-esteem?
2.Does self-esteem guarantee success?
3.Does self-esteem mean self-centeredness or being stuck-up?
4.Can I help others feel good about themselves?
Is it easy to change self-esteem? No. It
means taking some time to understand who you are--what you like,
don't like, feel comfortable with, and what goals you have. Ask for
help from your parents, a school counselor and your friends to find
the answers. This takes time and hard work. It's a life-long
process, but it's worth the work!
Does self-esteem guarantee
success? Success in school? Success playing
sports or musical instrument? Success with friends? No, but if
you keep trying and do your best, you are a success. Remember,
having positive self-esteem will help you to achieve what you want.
But when you don't succeed, it helps you to accept the situation
and move on.
Does positive self-esteem
mean "being stuck-up, snobby or on an ego trip"? No.
Kids who act this way usually are trying to pretend they are something
they are not. In fact, they often have low self-esteem.
Can I help others feel
good about themselves? Yes. Don't put others down for how
they feel, look or act. Be patient with your friends and
family when they fall short. We all make mistakes from time
If you are having a hard time deciding what is the
right thing to do, look to your mom or dad or a favorite teacher
or counselor to help. Learn from them. They want to help you. Asking
for help is not a sign of weakness. You are never too old or
too young to ask for help.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information or referrals for community services
contact your local mental health association or
National Mental Health Association
2000 N. Beauregard St., 6th floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone- 800-969-NMHA (6642)