It is easy to let your mind drift as a teen when you have so much going on in your life. I remember it well: am I going to pass this next batch of exams? Am I going to get in the football team? Is ‘that girl’ really interested? I became aware at a young age that there are two possible directions that your mind can lead you; a positive one and a negative one. Consider the negative thought processes: “These exams are difficult; I’m never going to pass., not to mention the fact that being this small and skinny I’ll never make the football team…Girls only like boys on the football team which means that girl I like isn’t going to be interested… I’m just a nobody and always will be.”
Realise that the following reaction is equally as possible if we choose the positive direction. “I’m going to work so hard for these exams that passing is inevitable, it’s going to be such a cool couple of weeks because I’ll have the time to get in shape and make the football team as well. It’s going to be awesome; I’m doing so well in my life”
What is Self-Esteem?
You know that picture that you have in your head of yourself? Who you are, how you look, your abilities and what your weaknesses are? This is the self-image that you have developed from a very young age. This self-image or mental picture that you have of yourself is affecting your self-esteem.
Our self-esteem is how much we believe that we are loved and valued by other people and how well we accept ourselves. Develop a high self-esteem and you will feel great about who you are, you will be grateful for who you are and you will proud of all of your strengths and be excited to develop your weaknesses.
Unfortunately, if you have a low self-esteem for whatever reason, you end up believing that people don’t like you and you can never excel in anything.
We are all on a quest to improve our self-esteem and self esteem for teens is a touchy subject. The reason that I discuss self esteem for teens, specifically, is because this is the time of our lives when we are trying to discover our identity and find our place in society. The exciting that I have found is that our self esteem is not fixed for life. One reason for this is that our self image is always changing and we can mould it positively with the right strategies.
Challenges with Self-Esteem
How we believe other people see us and how we see ourselves are two of the biggest contributing factors to self-esteem. When we are children and teenagers everyone from our parents to our teachers to our friends to our coaches impact the ideas that we form about ourselves. If any or all of these figures spend a lot of time criticizing a child then a healthy self-esteem is unlikely to develop. However, if these people are full of genuine, heartfelt praise then a high level of self-esteem is somewhat inevitable.
As teenagers the views of the people mentioned above can have a massive impact on what I call the ‘Little Voice’ in our own heads. Teens often end up criticizing themselves when really they are just hearing the voice of someone important in their life in their own head. The danger with this Little Voice if not addressed is that it can pick problems out with everything that we do.
As time progresses this negative little voice in a teens head causes as many problems with self-esteem as the voices of other people.
The wonderful thing about the ‘Little Voice’ that causes so much trouble is the fact that you can control it. You can transform this little voice into a positive one, with practice, of course. You can use the voice that you hear in your head to coach you into being someone with qualities that you admire. It is a matter of re-training your self-image.
Quick Steps to Improve Self Esteem for Teens
- Deliberatively focus on the great things in your life. Use the inner coach mentioned above to tell you about the positive things in your life. Write down three things that you are grateful for every day. [If that stubborn little voice tries to say that you’re not grateful for anything, stick with it and keeping asking “what am I grateful for?”
- Focus On Progress not perfection
- Experiment with different activities/sports/clubs so you can discover where your true talents lie.
- Only control what you can control. If you feel yourself being negative about something in your life that you can control, start changing it today. However, if you are being negative about something that you can’t control (such as the colour of your eyes) take to time to appreciate yourself the way that you are.
- Realise that every mistake is an opportunity to learn and do better next time.
- Focus on some new goals. Think about some things that you’d like to achieve, and then start accomplishing the tasks required to achieve them. Click here to read about my 4 Wheel Drive Goal Setting System.
- Get moving! You don’t have to love sports just do whatever feels the most fun. Swim, run, trampoline, whatever. You’ll notice how great that you feel afterwards.
Building a rock-solid self esteem can happen at any time. If you have been through something traumatic then you should start with a health professional to guide you through that experience first. If you haven’t then you can start just by following the steps above.
You’ll notice how you’re new level of self-esteem is making every area of your life better. You’ll have more friends, you’ll be happy more often; you’ll do better at school and so much more.
The topic of self-esteem for teens is close to my heart as it is something that I had to deal with during my adolescence and I am so passionate about it I even wrote a short ebook about loving yourself as a teen! It may take some effort and commitment to develop your self-esteem and you have already made a giant stride for yourself or for the teenager in your life just by reading articles like this one.