Self Esteem; What Does That Have to Do with the Script in My Head????
I’ve always felt that self-esteem, whether low, healthy or high is the lynch pin for all positive or negative outcomes in life. That inner voice, we all have, can be our best friend or worst enemy. Most of us do a really good job at keeping the negative tape we play in our heads at bay. We are pretty adept at maintaining balance between good and not so good thoughts.
What is self-esteem and why do I believe it is so vital to our sense of well–being, future outcomes and healthy relationships?
An article by staff at The Mayo Clinic states that “Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you honestly feel about your abilities and limitations. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. When you have low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas. You might constantly worry that you aren’t “good enough.”
I thoroughly subscribe to this definition on so many levels. Life changing, life altering decisions are made every day i.e. who to date or marry? If and when to have children? What career path and/or educational goals to pursue? When you think of the enormity and impact of these decisions can you honestly feel that one’s self-esteem does not factor prominently in predicting the eventual outcome of these decisions?
How one view’s themselves is the culmination of numerous touch points we encounter over the course of our lives. It is easy and expedient to blame parents when a child or adult’s behavior goes awry. Conversely, parents’ are given all of the credit for raising a doctor, lawyer or physicist? If it was only that easy! Yes, I am sure parental involvement does play a role in developing a child’s self-esteem but then how can we explain instances when parents have raised both an over and an under achiever? Do we really believe that those parents willfully or deliberately set out to raise a child who underachieves? The many touch points I referred to early play more of a role than we care to acknowledge. From the moment we are born, we have innate personalities as every parent with more than one child can attest to. Outgoing personality types engage the world much differently than their more introverted siblings often do. Children who have athletic prowess, musical ability, and academic acumen and/or type A personalities generally receive positive reinforcement throughout their formative years. Coupled with the positive reinforcement received at home chances are these children will develop into self-assured, successful and well-adjusted adults.
Let’s think about this: You are a child who is average looking (and many of us are), you have to work harder than your more talented sibling, you are an average student, you play the piano because your mom said you should, and you play a sport because that’s what’s expected but it’s not something you excel at. Do we really think this child will have the same positive experiences during his formative years as his more outgoing innately talented sibling? I think not! I don’t think, by any means, the less outgoing sibling is doomed for failure, I just believe that the script or tape that this child will play in his head will be vastly different than his more outgoing talented sibling because his experiences, encounters and touch points are not remotely the same.
It is so important that we find mentors, supporters, influencers and encouragers along our journey. Parents need to surround their children with positive role models besides themselves. Know your child so that you can help them identify and define their strengths, weaknesses and passions. Sometimes passions are hidden and have to be cultivated. Sometimes passions are not what we would expect. Passions may come in the form of loving relationships, work, a hobby, a sport, travel or something totally off the beaten path. We all have gifts and talents; we just have to find them. Surrounding ourselves and our families with healthy, positive relationships is paramount in the development of healthy self- esteem. Letting go of toxic relationships no matter who they are can be difficult even frightening depending upon where the toxicity lies, but letting go is critical not only for children but for any adult who falls victim to that toxic personality.
Having a healthy and positive self-esteem does not guarantee a life without challenges, obstacles or roadblocks but what it does guarantee is that you will make decisions and react to situations based on positive experiences, positive self-talk and from a position of strength not weakness.