A boy of sixth standard once shared with me, “I have no brother or sister and I am too short”. His classmates were taller than him, and often talked about their siblings in the hostel, which he was unable to do, and therefore felt sad. He had a low self esteem. Our subsequent discussion led to the following:
He loved his parents, found them very affectionate and caring. He realized that he was better off than many children, who don’t have parents.
He was studying in a good school whereas several children of his age are on streets, struggling for survival and never get to go to a school.
He had a good health. He was very talented and good in studies as well as sports.
He was happy to note that height of a person does not stand in the way of his achievements. His idol cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is short too but stands tallest in Cricket field with all his achievements.
He felt much better towards the end – already on the road of building a high self esteem. We concluded: It is better to think of what we have rather than worrying about what we what we don’t have. Being mindful of good things in life is the first step towards building a high self esteem. He was relieved, and smiled at the end. The session did a lot of good to my own self esteem as sharing always does.
Reasons for low self esteem may vary from person to person. However, some common reasons are: doubts about self appearance (height, weight, colour of skin etc.), not- so – happy experiences in life ( failure to make a mark in studies, exams, careers), dissatisfaction with achievements/career growth, breakdown in relationships, lack of adequate attention by next and dear ones etc.
A two-pronged strategy helps in improving self esteem:
a. Find reasons for low self esteem and address them
Try the following steps:
1. Make a list of things/experiences that bother you about your self and create a doubt in your mind.
2. For each of these, ask your self, are these real? If yes, then why? You may also consider discussing with a friend, whom you trust. You may end up dropping some from the list. Good beginning. You have dropped some of the burden you were carrying, and now you have a shorter list.
3. Take a closer look a the list now, and ask yourself a question. Am I the only one facing this/have gone through this or there are others as well?. Think how people have reacted to them, how have they worked on their short comings rather than living with a feeling of self pity. You can also do the same.
4. Make a list of good things in your life. We often think of things that we don’t have rather than being grateful for what we have.
b. Do things that are good for self esteem
• Consistently improve your knowledge- read more, watch the news and be abreast with things happening in the world around you.
• Upgrade your skills like communication, public speaking, sports etc
• Try to look as best as you can. Take care of your health, clothes, and shoes.
• Share what you have with others.
• Do something for those who are less privileged.
Now, make an action plan and implement it honestly. As self esteem is how you feel about yourself, only you can change it.