Recently a high school student named Kelly asked me the following question: “I have this big problem, Ed. People are calling me names and saying I have no friends and no one likes me… I’m starting to think that it’s true. My self esteem is going way down. Please help.”
Kelly is not alone – there are thousands of teenagers who feel this way every day. The best thing Kelly did was ask for help. It is important to remember and know that as teens and even as adults you are not alone. There are people to help you and support you if you are willing to look and have the courage to ask for help and advice. The biggest challenge is then putting into action the advice or support that is offered to you.
Here’s the advice I have for Kelly, she has to ask herself some questions and then take the time to really answer them at a deep level.
Who is the source?
You always have to consider the source of where negative information or comments come from. If they are coming from someone whom you do not respect or trust, then you can disregard the comments as nonsense or as another example of a coward or bully trying to tear someone down to make themselves feel better. This will help you keep things in perspective.
Who is one friend that you trust and can count on?
There are plenty of people who claim or give the perception that they have a lot of friends. However, it is the quality of friendships in your life that will help you get through difficult or challenging times. Nurture a friendship with even one person that you trust and can talk to. When you have a great friendship with a person who supports you, encourages you and is there to pick you up when you’re feeling down it will make a world of difference, versus a crowd of superficial relationships.
What are you grateful for in your life right now?
Ask yourself what you are grateful or thankful for in your life right now? Start with one thing and then list five things. When you begin to really reflect on what you are grateful for in your life you cannot help but begin to focus on the positive.
What challenges and obstacles have you had to overcome in your life?
Self-esteem does not come from looking in the mirror and saying to yourself ‘you are incredible’! Self-esteem comes from looking at your life and seeing how much you have grown, what you have experienced, and had to overcome. It’s about looking at the successes you have had in your life so far and also seeing how you’ve persevered through challenges. Take the time to look back to see just how far you have come. Then look ahead and focus on all of the wonderful things that are possible. This is what will carry you through the ups and downs of life.
Is that it? Just focus on these questions and answers and everything will be better?
I wish it was that easy and the answer that simple. The truth is that there are always going to be mean people who are cruel and gossip about others. It does not stop in high school or in college. There are bullies everywhere and at almost every age. That is why it is so important to surround yourself with positive people and positive things whenever possible. What you focus on – you attract. What you think about – you become. Don’t let negative people bring you down, don’t let them hold you back from being kind and from dreaming big. The fact is that you are an amazing human being who has gifts and talents – many that are still to be discovered – that are going to help you create an extraordinary life and make the world a better place.