We introduced the concept of self-esteem to 7 young people aged from 11 to 16 years old but only 1 of them has attended all 3 weekly sessions so far. However, we believe he will be sharing his insights with his friends and perhaps, more will join us as we continue the conversation.
When asked what “self-esteem” meant, “confidence” was the most common word that emerged, and one summed it up as “how much we believe in ourselves” during difficult moments. While defining “self-esteem” took a bit of time, identifying what hurt it was easy. “Criticisms on social media, people’s words and faces, ‘you should have done better’ and being compared with others” were responses spoken with clarity and sureness.
We then suggested that these adverse events usually activated unpleasant feelings, and this is because of our beliefs about them. Hence, if we believe that there is a different way of interpreting an event, we will not suffer the consequences of feeling lousy about ourselves. This was how we explained Dr. Albert Ellis’s ABC model to help us understand. the connection between adversity (A), our beliefs (B), and the consequences (C) on our emotions and behaviours. Sometimes our beliefs about a situation or about ourselves are not helpful and this affects our wellbeing.
This week, a 13-year-old boy tried out ABC on how he is received when he tries to make friends. He told us that he felt very troubled because even his parents asked him why is it that he had no friends. We then asked him if there were situations where he felt good about himself and after a while, he shared that he is generally passing in school and felt confident in the classroom. We then asked if he may bring that confidence with him when he is trying to start a conversation with someone else.
He then reflected that he has had some success speaking with others at our activities and reckoned that the opportunity to discuss the topic of self-esteem had “led him out his cave” and he is now in a “new house and just bringing in the furniture bit by bit.” Half seriously, he also said that he would like to work at a place like ours where people listened to each other.
His sharing sounded rather dramatic to us but what changed inside him would not have been something we would have easily noticed. We go about our work each day engaging the young and old in routine fashion and we can only be grateful for this sharing as it reminds us of the impact, we always have on those around us. Being mindful of whether we are building or damaging the self-esteem of others is how we can all nurture self-esteem in others and ourselves.
For peace, community, and realistic self-belief,
Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her. – Lao Tzu