Looking for ways to improve your self-esteem? You're not alone! It's normal
to have doubts about yourself during adolescence.
Look what happened to "Lauren" (not her real name) when she dressed
for PE the first day of school. As she tied her tennis shoes, she noticed she
had on two different colored socks -- one pink and one white. She was
mortified! What would the other students think when they saw her?
If you're a teen who's overweight, you're certainly not alone. In the United States, the number of people who are overweight is dramatically increasing. In fact, the percentage of teens who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. In 2004, almost one in five teens was overweight.
Lauren quickly took the socks off and stuffed them in the left pocket of her
gym shirt. She hated attention of any type and hoped no one would notice. Yet
when she walked into the gym and sat down, a boy who was always obnoxious stood
up, pointed to Lauren, and said, "Hey, girl. Why is your gym shirt so
Lauren looked down. The stuffed socks in her pocket made her look very busty
-- on her left side only. With tears running down her face, she stared at the
floor until the teacher excused the class to run laps.
While Lauren normally had good self-esteem, the way she handled this
embarrassing situation is typical of many teens, who may feel insecure in a
large group or among people they don't know well.
What Is Self-Esteem?
According to Nathaniel Branden, PhD, noted author and expert on the subject,
"self-esteem is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic
challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness."
Basically, having healthy self-esteem means thinking as highly of yourself
as you think of your friends and peers. Many people have become so used to
negative feedback that we are more aware of our weaknesses than our strengths.
Often, we cannot enjoy our successes -- no matter how large or small they might
be -- because we think of ourselves as "failures."
Why Is Self-Esteem Important?
Healthy self-esteem plays a role in almost everything you do. Teens with
high self-esteem have better relationships with peers and adults, feel happier
about their accomplishments, and find it easier to deal with disappointments
and failures. They are more likely to ask for help and support from family and
friends. They're also more likely to do well in school, setting reasonable
goals and accomplishing them.
As Branden notes, "Positive self-esteem is the immune system of the
spirit, helping an individual face life problems and bounce back from
adversity." So we can conclude that having high self-esteem is vital during
the turmoil of your teenage years.
We all have a mental image of who we are, what we're good at, and what our
strengths and weaknesses might be. This self-image plays a role in developing
our self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is based on your ability
to assess yourself accurately, while still being able to accept and value