I work, a lot, with young people, particularly girls, who have low self-esteem. Often, this manifests, as comparative thoughts, between themselves, and other girls, based on their weight, other aspects of their appearance, for example how pretty they are, their competence and/or their identity. Identity means, who they are, be it for example, sensitive, quiet, and/or their culture, likes, and dislikes.
In all cases, these young people, have been given the message, that their appearance, competence or identity, is not enough, is lacking in some way. Young people, are particularly vulnerable and susceptible, to the verbal and non-verbal messages they receive. They internalise this sense of ,’not being enough,’ and thus perpetuate their low self esteem, via internalised negative self talk, comparisons, and often, people pleasing, rather than discovering who they truly are, in their own rights, and asserting this by placing their wants and needs first. Some of the young people I have worked with, have been given the message that their needs are so unimportant, that they no longer even know what they want!
How do I work with these young people, to build their self-esteem? A lot of my work with these gifted, young people, has been about challenging their negative self talk, by replacing their inner critical thoughts, of not being enough, with a remembrance of ‘I am enough.’ I work, to help them see that comparisons, have no mileage. No-one has walked in their shoes. They have wonderful gifts, that they need to be focusing their attention and energy on developing. Without exception, each of them has unique and valuable talents and creativity, from a gift for art, to science, and a clear joy about pursuing these endeavours, when they lessen, their negative inner critic.
It is my passion, to teach them techniques, like talking back to their inner critic, and valuing, themselves, by discovering their wants and needs, and learning how to express them and focus on them, so they can start living the lives they dream of.