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Self-Esteem Workshop for Teens

Teens are invited to participate in our workshop to help build self-esteem and confidence.

Building Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence in Teens

Estimated watch time: 50 mins

Available credits: none

Presentation Materials:

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

So, what I wanted to do: here’s our agenda for today. I wanted to go over a definition of self-esteem and get an idea of why it’s important, get an understanding of what are the different things that influence self-esteem, have an overview so you can get an idea of where your current level of self-esteem is, and then I have a couple of videos that I wanted to share so that you can see where are others at with their self-esteem. Then finally, hopefully — this is what I want to be the most interactive part — I have a bunch of activities that I wanted to do today so that all of you guys can work on building your self-esteem.

One of the reasons that I wanted to do today’s session is because a lot of the work that I do with the teens that I see in my private practice revolves around their self-esteem. So I wanted to do kind of a quick workshop and, you know, kind of give you guys hopefully the tools that you’re going to be able to leave with today, that you’re going to be able to take with you. My work-from-home assistant has joined me; this is Celeste. Who else has a work-from-home assistant keeping them company? One thing that I wanted to just remind you guys of is this is something that we always have to keep working on, okay? After you leave here today, hopefully you’ll have some extra tools, but it doesn’t mean that after we’re done working today that everything is over, right? It’s something that you continually have to work, and hopefully today, you’ll get some good tips and you’ll be able to keep going from there. Right, Celeste? Celeste is actually a therapy dog in training.

Alrighty, so let’s talk a little bit about what self-esteem means. Okay, so if we look at the definition from psychology, it’s a term that we use to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. So that’s a fancy way of saying, “How much do you like and appreciate yourself?” It involves a variety of different beliefs about you. How do you judge your own appearance? What do you believe in? What are your emotions? What are your behaviors that go along with it? So, it’s a bunch of different things together that make up our self-esteem.

Why do we care? This is one of the reasons that I really wanted to do today’s session. Self-esteem really plays a significant role in your motivation and your success not just now in your adolescence, but throughout your whole life. If you have low self-esteem, it might hold you back from succeeding at school or from succeeding at work because you may not think that you are capable of being successful if you have a low self-esteem. By contrast, if you have a healthy self-esteem, that’s something that can help you achieve the goals that you set for yourself. What happens is you end up navigating life with a positive, assertive attitude and you believe that you can accomplish your goals, so it really does make a big difference. So if nothing else happens today, have this be something that you put some focus on in the future.

When we think about the different things that influence our self-esteem, there are many different factors. Some of it comes from inside of you. Some of it comes with age. If you have any illnesses that you may be struggling with, if there’s any disabilities that you struggle with, if you have any kind of physical limitations, sometimes your job, sometimes stuff at school, all of these things can affect your self-esteem. There’s also genetic factors that can shape your personality. Usually though, it’s our experiences that really form the basis. So, if you are constantly receiving really critical or negative feedback from your family, from your friends, even from maybe teachers at school, you’re going to be more likely to experience low self-esteem. Same thing is true for the opposite of that. If a lot of the feedback that you get from people is really positive, you’re likely to have a better self-esteem.

I want you to take the next couple of slides to kind of ask yourself these questions as we go through and get an idea of where you are personally. Okay, so signs of a healthy self-esteem: You avoid dwelling on past negative experiences. I know sometimes, we have that loop in our head, that complaint over and over again. You’re able to express your needs, which can be really difficult. You feel confident, you have a positive outlook on life. So even if something happens — maybe you missed the bus, maybe you didn’t do as well on a test as you thought you would — you’re able to still maintain a positive outlook on things.

You can say no when you want to, which can be really hard, especially when we’re with our friends. You can take a look at your overall strengths and weaknesses and you’re able to accept them as part of you. So for example, math has just never been a strong suit for me. At this point, I’ve just come to accept that. That’s a part of who I am. I can calculate things like how much tip to leave when I go out to a restaurant, but I’m not going to be able to do calculus anytime soon. Doesn’t make me worse than the next person who’s better at math, it just means it’s not one of my things. Okay, so those are signs of a healthy self-esteem. Think about how many of those are true for you. Then we’re going to take a look at what are the signs of an unhealthy self-esteem.

Take a look at these and see how many of these are true for you. You believe that others are better than you. You may find it difficult to express your needs. You focus only on your weaknesses or primarily on your weaknesses, the things that you’re not so proud of or not so great at. You really have a lot of experiences where it is shameful, maybe you feel depressed, maybe you’re having anxiety or any combination of those three. You have a negative outlook on life, so if something happens (for example, like you do miss the bus) that’s it, it’s ruined your entire day and nothing that happens that day is positive. Nothing that happens that day is good.
It’s like you’ve got that invisible cloud hanging over you. You have an intense fear of failure. Sometimes, that intense fear of failure will hold you back from trying. You’re so scared to fail at something that you’re not even going to attempt it because if you don’t try, then you can’t fail at it. So it will prevent you from maybe trying out for a team that you’re really interested in, or maybe going over to talk to somebody that you’re attracted to and things like that.

You also have trouble accepting positive feedback. Maybe you did a great job on a project, maybe you did a great job on the test. Somebody comes along, one of your teachers, “I’m so proud of you. You did such a good job.” First thing you say, “No. No, I didn’t. It’s not that big a deal,” right? You also have trouble saying no. So if your friends are pressuring you to do something that you don’t want to do, or they’re constantly asking you for money, you have a really hard time saying no to them. You put other people’s needs before your own. That goes along with being unable to say no even if you’re struggling with something, even if you’re having a really bad day. If your friend comes to you and says, “I need help,” or, “I need you to do this for me,” you don’t talk about your own stuff. You’re just going to focus on what it is that your friend says, and that doesn’t just happen in one situation. That happens all the time, where it gets to the point where you’re just never talking about your stuff because you’re so busy focused on everybody else’s stuff. Then you also struggle with confidence. You don’t have the ability to answer the question: What are some of your strengths? What are some of the things that you’re really great at?

Those are the signs of a low self-esteem. Now that you’ve seen the signs of high self-esteem and signs of low self-esteem, just do a self-assessment for a moment and think about which category it is that you fall into. If you’re noticing that you have more of those low self-esteem categories that are true for you, then that’s exactly what today’s exercises are designed for. If you have signs of a higher self-esteem, that’s now something that you’ve hopefully learned about yourself, and we can continue to build upon that with what we’re going to be doing today. The next slide is two videos that I want to show you.

(YouTube video plays)

I always thought people are so cute and they have the little cheeks and they’re, like, rosy, but mine are pretty plain. If I was going to change one feature about my face, I would say that I would want fuller lips. I am definitely a person that looks tired when I’m tired. And when people say that, I immediately am like, “Oh man, I’m starting to already get little crow’s feet and stuff,” which my mom has. So yeah, I’m a forensic artist. I was trained at the FBI Academy in 1993 in composite art. Worked for the San Jose Police Department as the police artist from 1995 to 2011. We didn’t really know what we were doing, so that was nerve-wracking for everyone.

I showed up to a place I’d never been, walked into this big warehouse, and at the very end, there was a guy with his back to me with a drafting board. I had a curtain separating me so that I don’t see him. “We’ll begin: First of all, tell me about your hair.” Brown, long, I guess a little bit past my shoulders. “Your jaw?” My mom told me I had a big jaw, yeah. They’re brown eyebrows. I didn’t know what he was doing, but then I could tell after several questions that he was drawing me. “Tell me about your chin.” I guess I haven’t really compared it to anyone else’s chin, but especially when, like, I smile, I just feel like it kind of protrudes a little bit.

“What would be your most prominent feature?” Rounder face. The older I’ve gotten, the more freckles I’ve gotten. You sort of realize, “Oh man, now I have to talk about myself and think about my looks.” I’m 40, so I’m starting to get a little bit of the crow’s feet thing going on. Once I get a sketch, I say, “Thank you very much,” and then they leave. I don’t see them. I still didn’t know. All I had been told before the sketch was to get friendly with this other woman, Chloe. “Today, I’m gonna ask you some questions about a person you met earlier, and I’m going to ask you some general questions about their face.” She was thin, so you could see her cheekbones and her chin was a nice, thin chin.

The women were really critical about moles or scars or things like that. And yet, they were describing just a normal, beautiful person. She had nice eyes; they lit up when she spoke and were very expressive. The length of the nose, what is that like? Short, short, cute nose. Her face was fairly thin. She had blue eyes, very nice blue eyes. “Okay, so this is your self-described image, and then somebody else described you in the sketch.” I have this whole thing about having dark circles and crow’s feet around my eyes and was not part of the sketch at all that the stranger did. The stranger’s was a little more gentle; it’s really different, just very strange. She looks closed off and fatter. She just looks kind of shutdown, sadder too.

Second one is more beautiful. “I think they’re catching more of that from you.” Yeah, she looks more open and friendly and happy. I’ve come a long way in how I’ve seen myself, but I think I still have some way to go. I have some work to do on myself. Do you think you’re more beautiful than you say? Yeah, Chloe’s perception was so, so clearly different. Her picture looked like somebody I thought I would want to talk to and be friends with, like, a happy, light, much younger, much brighter person. It’s troubling. I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices and the friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything, and couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.

Our self-perceptions are generally kind of harsh and unbecoming when, really, that’s not how the world sees us. We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite great.

(YouTube video ends)

So that was one of the ones that I wanted to show you. What are some thoughts that come up as I show that to you? What are some of the things that come to mind? Does that resonate with anybody? Do you think that maybe you are more beautiful than you give yourself credit for? I do think that if we really sit down and really reflect upon it, you’ll find that many of us probably feel exactly the same way. We rely on the external validation for how we determine our self-worth.

How we think about what our beauty is how it’s measured. It’s especially hard, I think, now in the age of social media, where there are so many different filters. There’s so many things with Photoshop, and we see all of these celebrities that are on — whether it’s TikTok or Snapchat or Instagram — all of these different platforms. And it seems as though they wake up with the perfect skin and they wake up with, you know, every hair in place, and it’s just really not true. So I wanted to play one more video with you, and that’s going to be a similar message, but this one focuses specifically on a teen girl. So, if I have any teen girls that are on with me today, this is definitely something that I want you to hear.

(YouTube video plays)

I think that people who have curly hair kind of want straight hair, and people who have straight hair sometimes want curls. I personally prefer, like, long hair. I don’t know. I have friends who have short hair and I’m like, “You look gorgeous,” but for me, I don’t feel that confident unless I have this long mess of hair. I think people hide behind it because it’s such an easy thing. And it’s right in front of your face, like, it’s kind of like, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” I think that is something that people use their hair for, to protect themselves from the world. I love my hair, but sometimes, I want to straighten it. I like straight hair. I don’t know why. I know of a lot of people who straighten their hair every day, and I think that’s really bad because it’s forcing this other image on you when you can be just as beautiful with curly hair.

In middle school, that style was to straighten your hair and everyone straightened their hair. Going into freshman year of high school, I decided to not straighten my hair anymore and I just wore my hair curly and I feel a lot better about it. I still straighten my hair sometimes, but I feel that by wearing my hair natural, I’ve really embraced who I am and haven’t tried to change myself to fit in. I don’t think there’s any like definition of like, “Oh, this is beautiful hair.” Yeah, there’s not one type of hair that’s, like, beautiful. To have full hair, I eat avocados and drink a glass of milk. I just brush it. I try not to use a ton of heat on it and just, like, try to take care of it really well and not play with my split ends, even though it’s really tempting. I don’t like to have to dye it or anything or do too much with it, because sometimes, that can actually damage your hair. So I’d want to try not to damage my hair. Sometimes, my mom puts cream in it so it can look pretty. I like to moisturize the front of my hair so my hair looks, like, shiny. I like putting my hair in ponytails because I like the way, like, it hangs and flows on its own.

Especially if you have curly hair, it’s a pain in the ass. Like, I can’t brush my hair when it’s dry. There’s a lot of things I can’t do, but like, you kind of learn to like it. I love my hair because I didn’t catch lice. I like my hair because I like being blonde. Not a lot of my friends are blonde, so it kind of makes me stick out. My hair is beautiful and big and fluffy, and my hair is a pillow. It just makes me feel more confident about myself. We’re progressing where more natural hair is embraced and for our yearbook, someone who never used a heating tool on her hair in her life won the best hair. Beautiful hair is natural. Beautiful hair is healthy and shiny. It doesn’t have to be a certain color. It’s just your hair. It just has to be whatever you want it to be. Even if you have gray hair, it doesn’t really make a big difference on your hair; it’s still the same. As I was growing up, I learned to love my hair even more, especially seeing people on the internet that loved their hair also. I kept watching videos and, like, so many people have curly hair — that’s kind of when I started liking it.

Nobody with more, I think, more curly hair. They aren’t as demonstrated in ads and stuff as straight hair or like blonde hair, and brown hair are more popular than like black hair. It’s just kind of strange, like, it’s not okay. Like, everybody needs to be represented equally, so they need to work on that. If I don’t see someone like me, sometimes I wonder if I’m good enough, you know? A lot of the YouTubers that I follow, they have a lot of light skin and corkscrew curls. They’re very loose. So even the people that I follow and I look up to in terms of natural hair, they don’t really represent who I am. So I would like to see more representation of girls with kinkier hair that look more like me. I feel like everybody has their own beautiful hair because we don’t all have the same kind of hair. If you feel like purple hair fits who you are, then wear purple hair. If you think that your hair looks nice straightened, then have your hair straight. You could do whatever you want to your hair. You can do whatever you want to your body, to your face, to your eyes, makeup, whatever. As long as you feel beautiful, that’s all that matters.

(YouTube video ends)

If either one of those resonated with you, Dove actually has a whole series of videos similar to that. Allure actually has a whole series of videos similar to that too, so that you can get a better idea of other things that people are working through as well. I think one of the things that we do tend to struggle with is we often feel like we are alone in our thoughts. The truth is a lot of us really feel similarly; the video that you just watched was on hair, but you may be particularly focused on your weight. You may be particularly focused on your skin, right? There’s something that you pay attention to, that you may be unhappy about and that could potentially define your entire self-esteem. So, to kind of bring it back to the whole picture, I found this poem that I really liked that I think encompasses exactly what I’m trying to get across today. It’s called “Trees.” I will read it to you:

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees
And some of them are bent and some of them are straight and some of them are evergreens and some of them are whatever.
And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is.
You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way.
And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it, you appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, ‘You’re too this,’ or, ‘I’m too that.’
That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into the trees.
Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”

That’s something I would encourage you to do for yourself: Appreciate yourself just the way you are. The truth is, we often get caught up in this trap that other people are judging us and other people are looking at us and thinking certain things, and that’s not necessarily true. So, the next thing that I want to focus on is working on building up your self-esteem. While I go over the different things that we’re going to be doing today, take a minute, and if you don’t currently have it in front of you, go grab a pen and a piece of paper. Or marker, whatever’s handy for you.

The next activities that we’re going to go over are a character strengths survey. We’re going to talk about how you talk to your friends, that’s important. I’m going to have you make a mask. You’re going to work on a timeline. We have a puzzle piece activity that we’re going to do, and then I’m going to finish off with some positive affirmations. Hopefully, that’s given you enough time to grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Everything that we do today is going to be yours to keep. So, in the practice of not judging, whatever you draw or whatever you write today. It is yours to keep. Nobody’s grading it.

I found a great website called viacharacter.org, which does a character strengths survey. It’s a free survey that you can do, and it will evaluate you for 24 different areas. What comes up at the end is an explanation of these different strengths that you see on here. What it’ll do: It’ll rate which ones are your primary strengths, which ones are your middle strengths and which ones are your lesser strengths — still a strength, but it doesn’t play as big of a role. The only thing you have to provide to them is your email, and they provide you with just a free PDF that you can print out. Sometimes, we just need a reminder of those strengths that we have within ourselves, and this is one thing that I use in session with clients. So, the website is viacharacter.org. On the home page, there’s two categories: There’s one for ages 18 and older, and then there’s one for ages 10 to 17. So that’s something that I would encourage you to do. I don’t have time to do it in the webinar today, but go ahead and either take a screenshot of that or write the website down. And then that’s something that I’d encourage you to do right after you get off the webinar today. That way, you can kind of continue going with the strengths that we’ve been focusing on.

Okay, so I mentioned a little while ago — how do you talk to your friends? Which I would imagine is probably different than how you talk to yourself. Take a look at the chat box and think about this question. What was the last compliment that you gave to your best friend? If you’re comfortable sharing, go ahead and pop it there in the chat. I’ll start. Last compliment I gave to my best friend was that I told her that she was beautiful. Anybody else want to either say something or pop it in the chat?

(Nadia’s comment)

This is Nadia. I’m always giving people compliments, as well as myself. I even give my dog compliments all the time. I’m just — I love compliments. I’m all about positive affirmations, especially as a woman and as a woman of color. As a black woman, I think society has so many negatives to say about me. I choose on purpose, every day, to give the positive energy to myself. And I think sometimes, especially our young girls, they’re looking for that positive affirmation from anywhere but from within. I think that’s a learned lesson that’s taught. Wonderful session that you’re doing, and that got me to thinking about way back in the days when they did the doll test with black and brown kids. Oh yes, yes. It just shows. I remember when I was in college and I’m 43 years old, so I’ve been out of college for a while. And even in the present day, a lot of people within the black and brown community and even especially young girls. They still experienced this low self-esteem. And I think it comes from the teachings, not just media, which has a lot to do with it.

And I’m talking about media from TV, from magazines. A lot has to do with the community, with the more personal from in home: what the family and what the parents teach and a lack of a male role model. I work a lot with young girls, and one of the things that I find — and now that I’m a therapist working with adult women, especially within the black and brown community — what I find is that with the lack of a male role model, they’re looking for that love, that attention, that self-worth from outside that they never got from within from the person, that primary teacher, which is our parents, which is our caregivers. So, that’s what I wanted to say.

(End of Nadia’s comment)

Well, thank you so much for sharing. I agree with you, and I love that you make it a point to put positive stuff out there, Nadia. I wanted to bring attention to this because I’m going to go ahead and share some of your answers. Somebody said, “I’m proud of you.” Somebody told their best friend that they’re amazing and that they’re a great mom. Somebody told their best friend that they’re awesome and that they’re a good listener. Pretty. That they’re beautiful. These are the kinds of things that we hopefully are saying to the people around us. Think about: what was the last thing that you said to yourself when you looked in the mirror? Now, I’m sure this is more personal, so that’s not something that you have to share to think about it. Is it as nice as what you said to your best friend and what we just shared?

Think about what you last said to yourself. Is that something that you would say out loud to your friend’s face? Is it one of those self-critical things? Is it something about your hair or your skin or your freckles or your weight? If it’s not something that you would be saying out loud to one of your friends, then it is not something that you should be saying to yourself. I want you to use this as a tool moving forward. When you’re standing, looking in the mirror and you’re getting ready, or you’re brushing your hair, your teeth, whatever it is, watch those messages that play in your head, even if they’re coming from somewhere else. Think about if that’s something that you would say out loud to one of your friends, because if you’re not, then you need to start changing up that inner dialogue. That’s just something I want you to think about.

(Nadia’s comment)
Natasha? If I may, I just wanted to add one thing. As I’m reading the positive affirmations or the nice things or the compliments that people give, one of the things that I’ve learned — because I work primarily with inner-city, minority children — one of the things I realized when you give praise or a compliment. They’ll — let me show my face — they’ll be the first one to say, “Ah, you’re just making that up,” ‘cause they already have a low self-esteem. So what I’ve learned to do, and what I teach parents to do, is when you’re giving a positive praise or a compliment, do it in a specific term. Not, “Oh, you’re beautiful.” Say, “Oh, your smile is really nice,” while they’re smiling so there’s no way that they could flag it off. “Oh, I like your outfit.” Give something specific because what I found when I was giving a very general, “Oh, hey, high five, good job, I liked that,” or something, they were flagged. But when I was more specific to a compliment right in the presence of them doing it, if I’m speaking about their smile right when they’re smiling, if I’m speaking about a good job that they did right when they did it, there’s no way of them flagging it to help them soak up and really embrace that compliment, there’s no way for them to deny it. So I’ve found that works better, especially when people that really have real low self-esteem. They’re not just faking it, trying to get a compliment out of you. For those people that really have a low self-esteem, I find that giving them specifics right at the moment where it’s undeniable, it works.

(End of Nadia’s comment)

That’s something that we’re going to practice a little bit later, too: being able to give yourself specific compliments also. Okay, now that you have your piece of paper out and we talked a little bit about those internal messages you’re sending to yourself, how do you present yourself to the world? So often, we end up wearing a mask out there in the real world, so I want you to draw a face on one side of a piece of paper. You’re going to write out all of those things that you show the world, whether it’s how you’re holding yourself in school, how you’re holding yourself at a job that you might have, when you’re with your friends. Either on the other half of that paper or on the other side of that paper, write down all of the things that are going on inside. All of us have things that we’re struggling with on the inside that people do not know is going on. Does your presentation on the outside match what you have going on the inside?

A lot of times, especially if we’re struggling with low self-esteem or anxiety or depression, we have this need to present ourselves as though everything is normal. Everything is just fine. Sometimes, we do that with humor because we’re trying to hide what it is that we have going on outside or what we have going on inside. We would do a different presentation on the outside. So, what’s that mask that you’re wearing? And what I would encourage you to do is to really live authentically. On that same piece of paper, write down: What is one thing that you can do to actually live in your truth? If one thing that you’re struggling with is maybe the way that you think about your skin, that’s something that you really struggle with. Every time you look in the mirror, that’s just something that your eye’s immediately drawn to and you’re critical about it. Think about somebody that is close to you, that you feel safe sharing with, that you can talk to about that. You’d be surprised how many people have something very similar going on that they’re hiding as well, but the more that you’re able to live authentically, the better it’s going to feel inside. And that’s another way to increase your self-esteem. It takes a lot of energy to be wearing that mask and to be hiding all of those things that you have going on inside. It can be exhausting, so that’s another thing I would encourage you to think about.

Okay, next thing that we’re going to do is make a timeline of your life. I have an example up here. What you’re going to do is write down major events that happened in your life. If you know the year, that’s fine. If you don’t know the year, it’s okay. You can just write down approximately when it was. So, things like starting school, maybe learning how to ride a bike. Being in a school play. What are some of the things that come to mind for you? Maybe it was the first time that you pitched for the baseball team, different things like that. The other thing that you’re going to include in your timeline are things that you have survived. Maybe you moved at some point and had to start all over at a brand-new school. Maybe there was peer pressure going on and you had to find it within you to be able to stand up to your friends. Maybe your parents got divorced and that’s a really hard thing to look through.

And everybody that’s online today, at some point during the past six months, one of the things that you survived was your school switching over to online. That was a huge transition. And even at this point in time, there’s still a lot of things that are up in the air as far as the upcoming school year. So, think about the things that you have survived throughout your timeline. And what I want you to think about is that as you reflect on your timeline, being able to survive all of the things that are on your timeline makes you really, really strong. So far, you have made it through 100% of your worst days, every single one of them, you made it through. And that’s something to be proud of, even if you’re having a really tough day, even if you’re having something that you’re struggling with. Your track record is 100% success. You have made it through every single one of your worst days. And if you can make it through all of those worst days, that means that you can continue to make it through all of the other things that are going to happen as well. Sometimes, we forget that, so now you have a written record of it.

You may need to start this on a brand-new piece of paper. So, this is the puzzle pieces activity. What you’re going to do is you’re going to draw a jigsaw puzzle with a bunch of different pieces; try to have at least ten on there. I have a little sample of what it should look like, but again, this is yours; whatever it looks like is whatever it looks like. In each puzzle piece, you’re going to have your identity. So that would be things like sister, student, boyfriend, artist, actor. If your faith is important to you, that’s something that you can put down on there. Again, you want to try to keep it more positive. So, things like daughter, son. I’m going to give you a minute, and go ahead and use the chat and either type it in, or you can share, if you’re wanting to, out loud something that comes to mind as we’re writing down those pieces of your identity.

Those of you that were on at the beginning saw the little puppy with me. She went to go take a nap, but one of the pieces of my identity is that I am a pet owner. As you reflect on your puzzle pieces, which one of those is the most important one? You can pop that right into the chat. If you had to choose just one. Thanks for sharing, Caesar. Okay. I see uncle, my boys, mom, friend. Okay, glad we’re on the positive focus of things. A couple of religious ones came up. Friends seem to be coming up a bit as well. I’ll let you in on a secret: That was actually a bit of a trick question. My argument is that there is not one of those puzzle pieces that is the most important one. It takes all of those pieces together to really make you you, right? And the other thing I want you to think about is: Who is it that has a puzzle that looks exactly like yours?

If you really think about it, the answer to that is nobody. And that’s part of the beauty of the world. Nobody has a puzzle that looks exactly like yours, and honestly, the world would be kind of boring if everybody’s puzzle looked the same. If we all look like each other, if we all had the same case, we all thought the same thing, if we all did the same stuff, it’d be a pretty boring universe. So think about the contributions that your personality pieces — those pieces that make you, those pieces of your identity — think about what that contributes to the universe. Nobody else does those things. Nobody else has a puzzle that looks like yours. And over time, our puzzles will change, right? If you had done this when you were in elementary school, it would look different. If you decided to do this 10 years from now, it would look different, and that’s not a bad thing. We all change as we learn different things, but all change as we get older. That’s a normal part of life. I want you to hold onto those pieces of your identity. It’s really important.

And then finally, I wanted to close up with some positive affirmations. These are the things that you’re going to take with you today. When I’m in session with clients, I like to do this with either index cards or Post-it notes. If you just still have the paper in front of you, that’s fine. So hopefully as you’ve been going along, you’ve been creating a bank of positive things about you. And as we mentioned before, we want to be specific. I want you to write a list of at least 10 positive things about you, and be specific about what really makes you unique. So you’re going to use the format: I am _____. Examples can include things like, “I am creative.” I am resilient. I am strong. I can say something like, you know, I’m proud of my curly hair. Then go ahead and type some examples there in the chat so I can see what you guys are thinking about. Sometimes, this is really tough to think about, which I get. We don’t spend a lot of time complimenting ourselves.

So if you get stuck, think about what your parents might say about you. What would your friends say about you? What would your teachers say about you? I love it. Funny, generous, kind, caring, eccentric. Okay, great. You guys are doing a good job with this. I have my positive affirmations actually hanging up in my office so that I can see them every day. So think about somewhere where you would be able to display them — a visual reminder of all the great things that you have going on inside of you. Oh, you guys are coming up with some really good ones: helpful, loyal, resilient, a good listener, somebody that you can count on. Absolutely. Strong. There’s been a lot going on this year, right? And so I would imagine that resilience is definitely something that we all have in common, to have been making it through.

So if you just start with the list, it’s a good base for building upon it. Maybe think about creating some Post-it notes that you can hang on your bathroom mirror, or something that you can put on your wall in your room, where you’re able to see it every day. And then when you’re having a day where you’re feeling a little bit more down on yourself or you’re struggling a little bit more, there’s a visual reminder to you of those positive things that you know to be true for you. And hopefully, you can continue to add to it over time. I see some great examples coming up here on the chat. Compassionate and animal lover. Jason, I’ve got that in common with you. You guys haven’t seen the cat, but she’s around. I’ve got the dog in.

So, you don’t have to tell me, but I want you to think about: What is one positive thing that you learned about yourself today? Hopefully something that you hadn’t thought about before or maybe hadn’t thought about it in a while. And the other takeaway I’d like you to have is: What is one change that you can make in the way that you think about yourself? So if we go back to that first activity that we did where we were thinking about that message that we sent ourselves when we look in the mirror, what’s one change that you would make in the way that you think about yourself? So instead of immediately going to that critical place, replace that with something more positive. These are the two things that I’d like you to focus on, and make sure that that’s a takeaway that you have from today.

And then finally, what I wanted to leave you with — this is one of my favorite quotes. “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

So my contact information is listed here. If you have any other questions, if you wanted to follow up, you’ve got the office number available there. There’s my email address and then the website for the private practice. I work in private practice, as Ashley mentioned, in Orlando, Florida. So if you got anything that you want to follow up with, you now have a way in which you can do that. I want to thank everybody for joining me today. I hope that you are leaving with your head held a little bit higher and some more positive focus on yourselves, and maybe some things that you can bring back to your friend groups because sometimes, we tend to be mean to our friends as well. Maybe you can be the catalyst to start making some changes with how we talk amongst ourselves and focus on being a little bit more positive and kinder to each other.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Objectives and Summary:

During this webinar, teens are invited to participate in a workshop where they will be able to engage in activities designed to build self-esteem and self-confidence. No registration required.

After participating in this workshop, you will learn:

  1. The definition of self-esteem
  2. The current values and view of oneself
  3. Self-esteem building activities

Presentation Materials:

Welcome to the Community Education Series, hosted by The Recovery Village and Advanced Recovery Systems.

So, what I wanted to do: here’s our agenda for today. I wanted to go over a definition of self-esteem and get an idea of why it’s important, get an understanding of what are the different things that influence self-esteem, have an overview so you can get an idea of where your current level of self-esteem is, and then I have a couple of videos that I wanted to share so that you can see where are others at with their self-esteem. Then finally, hopefully — this is what I want to be the most interactive part — I have a bunch of activities that I wanted to do today so that all of you guys can work on building your self-esteem.

One of the reasons that I wanted to do today’s session is because a lot of the work that I do with the teens that I see in my private practice revolves around their self-esteem. So I wanted to do kind of a quick workshop and, you know, kind of give you guys hopefully the tools that you’re going to be able to leave with today, that you’re going to be able to take with you. My work-from-home assistant has joined me; this is Celeste. Who else has a work-from-home assistant keeping them company? One thing that I wanted to just remind you guys of is this is something that we always have to keep working on, okay? After you leave here today, hopefully you’ll have some extra tools, but it doesn’t mean that after we’re done working today that everything is over, right? It’s something that you continually have to work, and hopefully today, you’ll get some good tips and you’ll be able to keep going from there. Right, Celeste? Celeste is actually a therapy dog in training.

Alrighty, so let’s talk a little bit about what self-esteem means. Okay, so if we look at the definition from psychology, it’s a term that we use to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. So that’s a fancy way of saying, “How much do you like and appreciate yourself?” It involves a variety of different beliefs about you. How do you judge your own appearance? What do you believe in? What are your emotions? What are your behaviors that go along with it? So, it’s a bunch of different things together that make up our self-esteem.

Why do we care? This is one of the reasons that I really wanted to do today’s session. Self-esteem really plays a significant role in your motivation and your success not just now in your adolescence, but throughout your whole life. If you have low self-esteem, it might hold you back from succeeding at school or from succeeding at work because you may not think that you are capable of being successful if you have a low self-esteem. By contrast, if you have a healthy self-esteem, that’s something that can help you achieve the goals that you set for yourself. What happens is you end up navigating life with a positive, assertive attitude and you believe that you can accomplish your goals, so it really does make a big difference. So if nothing else happens today, have this be something that you put some focus on in the future.

When we think about the different things that influence our self-esteem, there are many different factors. Some of it comes from inside of you. Some of it comes with age. If you have any illnesses that you may be struggling with, if there’s any disabilities that you struggle with, if you have any kind of physical limitations, sometimes your job, sometimes stuff at school, all of these things can affect your self-esteem. There’s also genetic factors that can shape your personality. Usually though, it’s our experiences that really form the basis. So, if you are constantly receiving really critical or negative feedback from your family, from your friends, even from maybe teachers at school, you’re going to be more likely to experience low self-esteem. Same thing is true for the opposite of that. If a lot of the feedback that you get from people is really positive, you’re likely to have a better self-esteem.

I want you to take the next couple of slides to kind of ask yourself these questions as we go through and get an idea of where you are personally. Okay, so signs of a healthy self-esteem: You avoid dwelling on past negative experiences. I know sometimes, we have that loop in our head, that complaint over and over again. You’re able to express your needs, which can be really difficult. You feel confident, you have a positive outlook on life. So even if something happens — maybe you missed the bus, maybe you didn’t do as well on a test as you thought you would — you’re able to still maintain a positive outlook on things.

You can say no when you want to, which can be really hard, especially when we’re with our friends. You can take a look at your overall strengths and weaknesses and you’re able to accept them as part of you. So for example, math has just never been a strong suit for me. At this point, I’ve just come to accept that. That’s a part of who I am. I can calculate things like how much tip to leave when I go out to a restaurant, but I’m not going to be able to do calculus anytime soon. Doesn’t make me worse than the next person who’s better at math, it just means it’s not one of my things. Okay, so those are signs of a healthy self-esteem. Think about how many of those are true for you. Then we’re going to take a look at what are the signs of an unhealthy self-esteem.

Take a look at these and see how many of these are true for you. You believe that others are better than you. You may find it difficult to express your needs. You focus only on your weaknesses or primarily on your weaknesses, the things that you’re not so proud of or not so great at. You really have a lot of experiences where it is shameful, maybe you feel depressed, maybe you’re having anxiety or any combination of those three. You have a negative outlook on life, so if something happens (for example, like you do miss the bus) that’s it, it’s ruined your entire day and nothing that happens that day is positive. Nothing that happens that day is good.
It’s like you’ve got that invisible cloud hanging over you. You have an intense fear of failure. Sometimes, that intense fear of failure will hold you back from trying. You’re so scared to fail at something that you’re not even going to attempt it because if you don’t try, then you can’t fail at it. So it will prevent you from maybe trying out for a team that you’re really interested in, or maybe going over to talk to somebody that you’re attracted to and things like that.

You also have trouble accepting positive feedback. Maybe you did a great job on a project, maybe you did a great job on the test. Somebody comes along, one of your teachers, “I’m so proud of you. You did such a good job.” First thing you say, “No. No, I didn’t. It’s not that big a deal,” right? You also have trouble saying no. So if your friends are pressuring you to do something that you don’t want to do, or they’re constantly asking you for money, you have a really hard time saying no to them. You put other people’s needs before your own. That goes along with being unable to say no even if you’re struggling with something, even if you’re having a really bad day. If your friend comes to you and says, “I need help,” or, “I need you to do this for me,” you don’t talk about your own stuff. You’re just going to focus on what it is that your friend says, and that doesn’t just happen in one situation. That happens all the time, where it gets to the point where you’re just never talking about your stuff because you’re so busy focused on everybody else’s stuff. Then you also struggle with confidence. You don’t have the ability to answer the question: What are some of your strengths? What are some of the things that you’re really great at?

Those are the signs of a low self-esteem. Now that you’ve seen the signs of high self-esteem and signs of low self-esteem, just do a self-assessment for a moment and think about which category it is that you fall into. If you’re noticing that you have more of those low self-esteem categories that are true for you, then that’s exactly what today’s exercises are designed for. If you have signs of a higher self-esteem, that’s now something that you’ve hopefully learned about yourself, and we can continue to build upon that with what we’re going to be doing today. The next slide is two videos that I want to show you.

(YouTube video plays)

I always thought people are so cute and they have the little cheeks and they’re, like, rosy, but mine are pretty plain. If I was going to change one feature about my face, I would say that I would want fuller lips. I am definitely a person that looks tired when I’m tired. And when people say that, I immediately am like, “Oh man, I’m starting to already get little crow’s feet and stuff,” which my mom has. So yeah, I’m a forensic artist. I was trained at the FBI Academy in 1993 in composite art. Worked for the San Jose Police Department as the police artist from 1995 to 2011. We didn’t really know what we were doing, so that was nerve-wracking for everyone.

I showed up to a place I’d never been, walked into this big warehouse, and at the very end, there was a guy with his back to me with a drafting board. I had a curtain separating me so that I don’t see him. “We’ll begin: First of all, tell me about your hair.” Brown, long, I guess a little bit past my shoulders. “Your jaw?” My mom told me I had a big jaw, yeah. They’re brown eyebrows. I didn’t know what he was doing, but then I could tell after several questions that he was drawing me. “Tell me about your chin.” I guess I haven’t really compared it to anyone else’s chin, but especially when, like, I smile, I just feel like it kind of protrudes a little bit.

“What would be your most prominent feature?” Rounder face. The older I’ve gotten, the more freckles I’ve gotten. You sort of realize, “Oh man, now I have to talk about myself and think about my looks.” I’m 40, so I’m starting to get a little bit of the crow’s feet thing going on. Once I get a sketch, I say, “Thank you very much,” and then they leave. I don’t see them. I still didn’t know. All I had been told before the sketch was to get friendly with this other woman, Chloe. “Today, I’m gonna ask you some questions about a person you met earlier, and I’m going to ask you some general questions about their face.” She was thin, so you could see her cheekbones and her chin was a nice, thin chin.

The women were really critical about moles or scars or things like that. And yet, they were describing just a normal, beautiful person. She had nice eyes; they lit up when she spoke and were very expressive. The length of the nose, what is that like? Short, short, cute nose. Her face was fairly thin. She had blue eyes, very nice blue eyes. “Okay, so this is your self-described image, and then somebody else described you in the sketch.” I have this whole thing about having dark circles and crow’s feet around my eyes and was not part of the sketch at all that the stranger did. The stranger’s was a little more gentle; it’s really different, just very strange. She looks closed off and fatter. She just looks kind of shutdown, sadder too.

Second one is more beautiful. “I think they’re catching more of that from you.” Yeah, she looks more open and friendly and happy. I’ve come a long way in how I’ve seen myself, but I think I still have some way to go. I have some work to do on myself. Do you think you’re more beautiful than you say? Yeah, Chloe’s perception was so, so clearly different. Her picture looked like somebody I thought I would want to talk to and be friends with, like, a happy, light, much younger, much brighter person. It’s troubling. I should be more grateful of my natural beauty. It impacts the choices and the friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything, and couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.

Our self-perceptions are generally kind of harsh and unbecoming when, really, that’s not how the world sees us. We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite great.

(YouTube video ends)

So that was one of the ones that I wanted to show you. What are some thoughts that come up as I show that to you? What are some of the things that come to mind? Does that resonate with anybody? Do you think that maybe you are more beautiful than you give yourself credit for? I do think that if we really sit down and really reflect upon it, you’ll find that many of us probably feel exactly the same way. We rely on the external validation for how we determine our self-worth.

How we think about what our beauty is how it’s measured. It’s especially hard, I think, now in the age of social media, where there are so many different filters. There’s so many things with Photoshop, and we see all of these celebrities that are on — whether it’s TikTok or Snapchat or Instagram — all of these different platforms. And it seems as though they wake up with the perfect skin and they wake up with, you know, every hair in place, and it’s just really not true. So I wanted to play one more video with you, and that’s going to be a similar message, but this one focuses specifically on a teen girl. So, if I have any teen girls that are on with me today, this is definitely something that I want you to hear.

(YouTube video plays)

I think that people who have curly hair kind of want straight hair, and people who have straight hair sometimes want curls. I personally prefer, like, long hair. I don’t know. I have friends who have short hair and I’m like, “You look gorgeous,” but for me, I don’t feel that confident unless I have this long mess of hair. I think people hide behind it because it’s such an easy thing. And it’s right in front of your face, like, it’s kind of like, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” I think that is something that people use their hair for, to protect themselves from the world. I love my hair, but sometimes, I want to straighten it. I like straight hair. I don’t know why. I know of a lot of people who straighten their hair every day, and I think that’s really bad because it’s forcing this other image on you when you can be just as beautiful with curly hair.

In middle school, that style was to straighten your hair and everyone straightened their hair. Going into freshman year of high school, I decided to not straighten my hair anymore and I just wore my hair curly and I feel a lot better about it. I still straighten my hair sometimes, but I feel that by wearing my hair natural, I’ve really embraced who I am and haven’t tried to change myself to fit in. I don’t think there’s any like definition of like, “Oh, this is beautiful hair.” Yeah, there’s not one type of hair that’s, like, beautiful. To have full hair, I eat avocados and drink a glass of milk. I just brush it. I try not to use a ton of heat on it and just, like, try to take care of it really well and not play with my split ends, even though it’s really tempting. I don’t like to have to dye it or anything or do too much with it, because sometimes, that can actually damage your hair. So I’d want to try not to damage my hair. Sometimes, my mom puts cream in it so it can look pretty. I like to moisturize the front of my hair so my hair looks, like, shiny. I like putting my hair in ponytails because I like the way, like, it hangs and flows on its own.

Especially if you have curly hair, it’s a pain in the ass. Like, I can’t brush my hair when it’s dry. There’s a lot of things I can’t do, but like, you kind of learn to like it. I love my hair because I didn’t catch lice. I like my hair because I like being blonde. Not a lot of my friends are blonde, so it kind of makes me stick out. My hair is beautiful and big and fluffy, and my hair is a pillow. It just makes me feel more confident about myself. We’re progressing where more natural hair is embraced and for our yearbook, someone who never used a heating tool on her hair in her life won the best hair. Beautiful hair is natural. Beautiful hair is healthy and shiny. It doesn’t have to be a certain color. It’s just your hair. It just has to be whatever you want it to be. Even if you have gray hair, it doesn’t really make a big difference on your hair; it’s still the same. As I was growing up, I learned to love my hair even more, especially seeing people on the internet that loved their hair also. I kept watching videos and, like, so many people have curly hair — that’s kind of when I started liking it.

Nobody with more, I think, more curly hair. They aren’t as demonstrated in ads and stuff as straight hair or like blonde hair, and brown hair are more popular than like black hair. It’s just kind of strange, like, it’s not okay. Like, everybody needs to be represented equally, so they need to work on that. If I don’t see someone like me, sometimes I wonder if I’m good enough, you know? A lot of the YouTubers that I follow, they have a lot of light skin and corkscrew curls. They’re very loose. So even the people that I follow and I look up to in terms of natural hair, they don’t really represent who I am. So I would like to see more representation of girls with kinkier hair that look more like me. I feel like everybody has their own beautiful hair because we don’t all have the same kind of hair. If you feel like purple hair fits who you are, then wear purple hair. If you think that your hair looks nice straightened, then have your hair straight. You could do whatever you want to your hair. You can do whatever you want to your body, to your face, to your eyes, makeup, whatever. As long as you feel beautiful, that’s all that matters.

(YouTube video ends)

If either one of those resonated with you, Dove actually has a whole series of videos similar to that. Allure actually has a whole series of videos similar to that too, so that you can get a better idea of other things that people are working through as well. I think one of the things that we do tend to struggle with is we often feel like we are alone in our thoughts. The truth is a lot of us really feel similarly; the video that you just watched was on hair, but you may be particularly focused on your weight. You may be particularly focused on your skin, right? There’s something that you pay attention to, that you may be unhappy about and that could potentially define your entire self-esteem. So, to kind of bring it back to the whole picture, I found this poem that I really liked that I think encompasses exactly what I’m trying to get across today. It’s called “Trees.” I will read it to you:

“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees
And some of them are bent and some of them are straight and some of them are evergreens and some of them are whatever.
And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is.
You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way.
And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it, you appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, ‘You’re too this,’ or, ‘I’m too that.’
That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into the trees.
Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”

That’s something I would encourage you to do for yourself: Appreciate yourself just the way you are. The truth is, we often get caught up in this trap that other people are judging us and other people are looking at us and thinking certain things, and that’s not necessarily true. So, the next thing that I want to focus on is working on building up your self-esteem. While I go over the different things that we’re going to be doing today, take a minute, and if you don’t currently have it in front of you, go grab a pen and a piece of paper. Or marker, whatever’s handy for you.

The next activities that we’re going to go over are a character strengths survey. We’re going to talk about how you talk to your friends, that’s important. I’m going to have you make a mask. You’re going to work on a timeline. We have a puzzle piece activity that we’re going to do, and then I’m going to finish off with some positive affirmations. Hopefully, that’s given you enough time to grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Everything that we do today is going to be yours to keep. So, in the practice of not judging, whatever you draw or whatever you write today. It is yours to keep. Nobody’s grading it.

I found a great website called viacharacter.org, which does a character strengths survey. It’s a free survey that you can do, and it will evaluate you for 24 different areas. What comes up at the end is an explanation of these different strengths that you see on here. What it’ll do: It’ll rate which ones are your primary strengths, which ones are your middle strengths and which ones are your lesser strengths — still a strength, but it doesn’t play as big of a role. The only thing you have to provide to them is your email, and they provide you with just a free PDF that you can print out. Sometimes, we just need a reminder of those strengths that we have within ourselves, and this is one thing that I use in session with clients. So, the website is viacharacter.org. On the home page, there’s two categories: There’s one for ages 18 and older, and then there’s one for ages 10 to 17. So that’s something that I would encourage you to do. I don’t have time to do it in the webinar today, but go ahead and either take a screenshot of that or write the website down. And then that’s something that I’d encourage you to do right after you get off the webinar today. That way, you can kind of continue going with the strengths that we’ve been focusing on.

Okay, so I mentioned a little while ago — how do you talk to your friends? Which I would imagine is probably different than how you talk to yourself. Take a look at the chat box and think about this question. What was the last compliment that you gave to your best friend? If you’re comfortable sharing, go ahead and pop it there in the chat. I’ll start. Last compliment I gave to my best friend was that I told her that she was beautiful. Anybody else want to either say something or pop it in the chat?

(Nadia’s comment)

This is Nadia. I’m always giving people compliments, as well as myself. I even give my dog compliments all the time. I’m just — I love compliments. I’m all about positive affirmations, especially as a woman and as a woman of color. As a black woman, I think society has so many negatives to say about me. I choose on purpose, every day, to give the positive energy to myself. And I think sometimes, especially our young girls, they’re looking for that positive affirmation from anywhere but from within. I think that’s a learned lesson that’s taught. Wonderful session that you’re doing, and that got me to thinking about way back in the days when they did the doll test with black and brown kids. Oh yes, yes. It just shows. I remember when I was in college and I’m 43 years old, so I’ve been out of college for a while. And even in the present day, a lot of people within the black and brown community and even especially young girls. They still experienced this low self-esteem. And I think it comes from the teachings, not just media, which has a lot to do with it.

And I’m talking about media from TV, from magazines. A lot has to do with the community, with the more personal from in home: what the family and what the parents teach and a lack of a male role model. I work a lot with young girls, and one of the things that I find — and now that I’m a therapist working with adult women, especially within the black and brown community — what I find is that with the lack of a male role model, they’re looking for that love, that attention, that self-worth from outside that they never got from within from the person, that primary teacher, which is our parents, which is our caregivers. So, that’s what I wanted to say.

(End of Nadia’s comment)

Well, thank you so much for sharing. I agree with you, and I love that you make it a point to put positive stuff out there, Nadia. I wanted to bring attention to this because I’m going to go ahead and share some of your answers. Somebody said, “I’m proud of you.” Somebody told their best friend that they’re amazing and that they’re a great mom. Somebody told their best friend that they’re awesome and that they’re a good listener. Pretty. That they’re beautiful. These are the kinds of things that we hopefully are saying to the people around us. Think about: what was the last thing that you said to yourself when you looked in the mirror? Now, I’m sure this is more personal, so that’s not something that you have to share to think about it. Is it as nice as what you said to your best friend and what we just shared?

Think about what you last said to yourself. Is that something that you would say out loud to your friend’s face? Is it one of those self-critical things? Is it something about your hair or your skin or your freckles or your weight? If it’s not something that you would be saying out loud to one of your friends, then it is not something that you should be saying to yourself. I want you to use this as a tool moving forward. When you’re standing, looking in the mirror and you’re getting ready, or you’re brushing your hair, your teeth, whatever it is, watch those messages that play in your head, even if they’re coming from somewhere else. Think about if that’s something that you would say out loud to one of your friends, because if you’re not, then you need to start changing up that inner dialogue. That’s just something I want you to think about.

(Nadia’s comment)
Natasha? If I may, I just wanted to add one thing. As I’m reading the positive affirmations or the nice things or the compliments that people give, one of the things that I’ve learned — because I work primarily with inner-city, minority children — one of the things I realized when you give praise or a compliment. They’ll — let me show my face — they’ll be the first one to say, “Ah, you’re just making that up,” ‘cause they already have a low self-esteem. So what I’ve learned to do, and what I teach parents to do, is when you’re giving a positive praise or a compliment, do it in a specific term. Not, “Oh, you’re beautiful.” Say, “Oh, your smile is really nice,” while they’re smiling so there’s no way that they could flag it off. “Oh, I like your outfit.” Give something specific because what I found when I was giving a very general, “Oh, hey, high five, good job, I liked that,” or something, they were flagged. But when I was more specific to a compliment right in the presence of them doing it, if I’m speaking about their smile right when they’re smiling, if I’m speaking about a good job that they did right when they did it, there’s no way of them flagging it to help them soak up and really embrace that compliment, there’s no way for them to deny it. So I’ve found that works better, especially when people that really have real low self-esteem. They’re not just faking it, trying to get a compliment out of you. For those people that really have a low self-esteem, I find that giving them specifics right at the moment where it’s undeniable, it works.

(End of Nadia’s comment)

That’s something that we’re going to practice a little bit later, too: being able to give yourself specific compliments also. Okay, now that you have your piece of paper out and we talked a little bit about those internal messages you’re sending to yourself, how do you present yourself to the world? So often, we end up wearing a mask out there in the real world, so I want you to draw a face on one side of a piece of paper. You’re going to write out all of those things that you show the world, whether it’s how you’re holding yourself in school, how you’re holding yourself at a job that you might have, when you’re with your friends. Either on the other half of that paper or on the other side of that paper, write down all of the things that are going on inside. All of us have things that we’re struggling with on the inside that people do not know is going on. Does your presentation on the outside match what you have going on the inside?

A lot of times, especially if we’re struggling with low self-esteem or anxiety or depression, we have this need to present ourselves as though everything is normal. Everything is just fine. Sometimes, we do that with humor because we’re trying to hide what it is that we have going on outside or what we have going on inside. We would do a different presentation on the outside. So, what’s that mask that you’re wearing? And what I would encourage you to do is to really live authentically. On that same piece of paper, write down: What is one thing that you can do to actually live in your truth? If one thing that you’re struggling with is maybe the way that you think about your skin, that’s something that you really struggle with. Every time you look in the mirror, that’s just something that your eye’s immediately drawn to and you’re critical about it. Think about somebody that is close to you, that you feel safe sharing with, that you can talk to about that. You’d be surprised how many people have something very similar going on that they’re hiding as well, but the more that you’re able to live authentically, the better it’s going to feel inside. And that’s another way to increase your self-esteem. It takes a lot of energy to be wearing that mask and to be hiding all of those things that you have going on inside. It can be exhausting, so that’s another thing I would encourage you to think about.

Okay, next thing that we’re going to do is make a timeline of your life. I have an example up here. What you’re going to do is write down major events that happened in your life. If you know the year, that’s fine. If you don’t know the year, it’s okay. You can just write down approximately when it was. So, things like starting school, maybe learning how to ride a bike. Being in a school play. What are some of the things that come to mind for you? Maybe it was the first time that you pitched for the baseball team, different things like that. The other thing that you’re going to include in your timeline are things that you have survived. Maybe you moved at some point and had to start all over at a brand-new school. Maybe there was peer pressure going on and you had to find it within you to be able to stand up to your friends. Maybe your parents got divorced and that’s a really hard thing to look through.

And everybody that’s online today, at some point during the past six months, one of the things that you survived was your school switching over to online. That was a huge transition. And even at this point in time, there’s still a lot of things that are up in the air as far as the upcoming school year. So, think about the things that you have survived throughout your timeline. And what I want you to think about is that as you reflect on your timeline, being able to survive all of the things that are on your timeline makes you really, really strong. So far, you have made it through 100% of your worst days, every single one of them, you made it through. And that’s something to be proud of, even if you’re having a really tough day, even if you’re having something that you’re struggling with. Your track record is 100% success. You have made it through every single one of your worst days. And if you can make it through all of those worst days, that means that you can continue to make it through all of the other things that are going to happen as well. Sometimes, we forget that, so now you have a written record of it.

You may need to start this on a brand-new piece of paper. So, this is the puzzle pieces activity. What you’re going to do is you’re going to draw a jigsaw puzzle with a bunch of different pieces; try to have at least ten on there. I have a little sample of what it should look like, but again, this is yours; whatever it looks like is whatever it looks like. In each puzzle piece, you’re going to have your identity. So that would be things like sister, student, boyfriend, artist, actor. If your faith is important to you, that’s something that you can put down on there. Again, you want to try to keep it more positive. So, things like daughter, son. I’m going to give you a minute, and go ahead and use the chat and either type it in, or you can share, if you’re wanting to, out loud something that comes to mind as we’re writing down those pieces of your identity.

Those of you that were on at the beginning saw the little puppy with me. She went to go take a nap, but one of the pieces of my identity is that I am a pet owner. As you reflect on your puzzle pieces, which one of those is the most important one? You can pop that right into the chat. If you had to choose just one. Thanks for sharing, Caesar. Okay. I see uncle, my boys, mom, friend. Okay, glad we’re on the positive focus of things. A couple of religious ones came up. Friends seem to be coming up a bit as well. I’ll let you in on a secret: That was actually a bit of a trick question. My argument is that there is not one of those puzzle pieces that is the most important one. It takes all of those pieces together to really make you you, right? And the other thing I want you to think about is: Who is it that has a puzzle that looks exactly like yours?

If you really think about it, the answer to that is nobody. And that’s part of the beauty of the world. Nobody has a puzzle that looks exactly like yours, and honestly, the world would be kind of boring if everybody’s puzzle looked the same. If we all look like each other, if we all had the same case, we all thought the same thing, if we all did the same stuff, it’d be a pretty boring universe. So think about the contributions that your personality pieces — those pieces that make you, those pieces of your identity — think about what that contributes to the universe. Nobody else does those things. Nobody else has a puzzle that looks like yours. And over time, our puzzles will change, right? If you had done this when you were in elementary school, it would look different. If you decided to do this 10 years from now, it would look different, and that’s not a bad thing. We all change as we learn different things, but all change as we get older. That’s a normal part of life. I want you to hold onto those pieces of your identity. It’s really important.

And then finally, I wanted to close up with some positive affirmations. These are the things that you’re going to take with you today. When I’m in session with clients, I like to do this with either index cards or Post-it notes. If you just still have the paper in front of you, that’s fine. So hopefully as you’ve been going along, you’ve been creating a bank of positive things about you. And as we mentioned before, we want to be specific. I want you to write a list of at least 10 positive things about you, and be specific about what really makes you unique. So you’re going to use the format: I am _____. Examples can include things like, “I am creative.” I am resilient. I am strong. I can say something like, you know, I’m proud of my curly hair. Then go ahead and type some examples there in the chat so I can see what you guys are thinking about. Sometimes, this is really tough to think about, which I get. We don’t spend a lot of time complimenting ourselves.

So if you get stuck, think about what your parents might say about you. What would your friends say about you? What would your teachers say about you? I love it. Funny, generous, kind, caring, eccentric. Okay, great. You guys are doing a good job with this. I have my positive affirmations actually hanging up in my office so that I can see them every day. So think about somewhere where you would be able to display them — a visual reminder of all the great things that you have going on inside of you. Oh, you guys are coming up with some really good ones: helpful, loyal, resilient, a good listener, somebody that you can count on. Absolutely. Strong. There’s been a lot going on this year, right? And so I would imagine that resilience is definitely something that we all have in common, to have been making it through.

So if you just start with the list, it’s a good base for building upon it. Maybe think about creating some Post-it notes that you can hang on your bathroom mirror, or something that you can put on your wall in your room, where you’re able to see it every day. And then when you’re having a day where you’re feeling a little bit more down on yourself or you’re struggling a little bit more, there’s a visual reminder to you of those positive things that you know to be true for you. And hopefully, you can continue to add to it over time. I see some great examples coming up here on the chat. Compassionate and animal lover. Jason, I’ve got that in common with you. You guys haven’t seen the cat, but she’s around. I’ve got the dog in.

So, you don’t have to tell me, but I want you to think about: What is one positive thing that you learned about yourself today? Hopefully something that you hadn’t thought about before or maybe hadn’t thought about it in a while. And the other takeaway I’d like you to have is: What is one change that you can make in the way that you think about yourself? So if we go back to that first activity that we did where we were thinking about that message that we sent ourselves when we look in the mirror, what’s one change that you would make in the way that you think about yourself? So instead of immediately going to that critical place, replace that with something more positive. These are the two things that I’d like you to focus on, and make sure that that’s a takeaway that you have from today.

And then finally, what I wanted to leave you with — this is one of my favorite quotes. “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

So my contact information is listed here. If you have any other questions, if you wanted to follow up, you’ve got the office number available there. There’s my email address and then the website for the private practice. I work in private practice, as Ashley mentioned, in Orlando, Florida. So if you got anything that you want to follow up with, you now have a way in which you can do that. I want to thank everybody for joining me today. I hope that you are leaving with your head held a little bit higher and some more positive focus on yourselves, and maybe some things that you can bring back to your friend groups because sometimes, we tend to be mean to our friends as well. Maybe you can be the catalyst to start making some changes with how we talk amongst ourselves and focus on being a little bit more positive and kinder to each other.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you enjoyed the presentation.

 

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