- Self Esteem Hooks
People often refer to self-esteem as if it is one thing. I see it as much more complex than that. First, I think there is likely to be a genetic component to self-esteem. How often have we seen people who have every reason to have good self-esteem and yet do not? The opposite can also be true but is a bit more complicated (some people who appear to have good self-esteem actually don’t, but that is a whole different topic for another post). If you think about it, people who are shy (and although this is clearly a trait that can be influenced by the environment, I also think there is a genetic component to shyness and certainly anxiety) are often timid as young children. When you are a child you get your self esteem from going down the slide by yourself or pouring your own juice—things that give you that “I did it myself” feeling. Shy or anxious children have fewer of these experiences and thus the foundation for their self-esteem tends to be weaker.
I like to think of self-esteem as a series of hooks. You have a self-esteem hook about how well you do at work or at school, one or more about how well you do athletically or with other hobbies you might do, one or more about how you are in social settings, one or more about your personal life and so on. If one area of your life is not going well, you might hang your self-esteem hat on one of the other hooks. If none of the hooks are solid your hat is on the floor. It is therefore important to make sure you have a lot of solid self-esteem hooks.
The building blocks of self-esteem are a sense of competence, contribution and belonging. The more things that you (or your children) do that give you a sense of contribution, competence and belonging the more hooks you will have, the more you do them the stronger those hooks will be.
So pay attention to strengthening your hooks (and helping your children to do the same) and making sure you have several of them so that your self-esteem hat doesn’t end up on the floor!