How Can I Improve my Self-Esteem?
Steve's mind wanders as he does his homework. "I'm never going to do well on this history test," he thinks. "My dad's right, I'm just like him — I'll never amount to much." Distracted, he looks down and thinks how skinny his legs are. "Ugh," he says to himself. "I bet the football coach won't even let me try out when he sees what a wimp I am."
Julio is studying for the same history test as Steve, and he's also not too fond of the subject. But that's where the similarity ends. Julio has a completely different outlook. He's more likely to think, "OK, history again, what a pain. Thank goodness I'm acing the subject I really love — math." And when Julio thinks about the way he looks, it's also a lot more positive. Although he is shorter and skinnier than Steve, Julio is less likely to blame or criticize his body and more likely to think, "I may be skinny, but I can really run. I'd be a good addition to the football team."
We all have a mental picture of who we are, how we look, what we're good at, and what our weaknesses might be. We develop this picture over time, starting when we're very young kids. The term self-image is used to refer to a person's mental picture of himself or herself. A lot of our self-image is based on interactions we have with other people and our life experiences. This mental picture (our self-image) contributes to our self-esteem.
Self-esteem is all about how much we feel valued, loved, accepted, and thought well of by others — and how much we value, love, and accept ourselves. People with healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves, appreciate their own worth, and take pride in their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. People with low self-esteem may feel as if no one will like them or accept them or that they can't do well in anything.
We all experience problems with self-esteem at certain times in our lives — especially during our teens when we're figuring out who we are and where we fit in the world. The good news is that, because everyone's self-image changes over time, self-esteem is not fixed for life. So if you feel that your self-esteem isn't all it could be, you can improve it.
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