Teresa DePratt, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
May, 2011

Hello everyone, and cheers to you for making it to the last weeks of the 2010-2011 spring quarter! Congratulations to our graduates, for reaching your hard-earned goal.  Whether you’re headed across the stage or have just finished freshman year, you’re sure to gain some confidence and pride- all adding to your quota of self-esteem.  Self-esteem is important for all of us, allowing us to face adversity and challenges from a secure place.  It also contributes to our self-efficacy, which are the ideas we have about what we can accomplish on a day-to-day basis and over our lifetimes.

If your self-esteem is running low however, chances are you often feel bad about your physical characteristics, social skills, or even who you are as a person.  Low self-esteem can greatly contribute to feeling some of the less desirable emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and diminished confidence and motivation.  Having low self-esteem for and extended time can affect relationships, manifesting as neediness, negativity, and/or lack of control.

Having a good self-esteem on the other hand, is about feeling good about who we are- liking ourselves regardless of successes or failures.  It’s being secure in the fact that you do your best and the glitches that show up in all of our lives are only that- temporary setbacks that we know we can overcome.  Positive self-esteem means that we don’t judge ourselves based on what others think or say, or how much we can accomplish.  High self-esteem is being comfortable with yourself, believing that you are a good person and feeling generally positive about who you are.

One thing that contributes to low self-esteem is believing negative things that have been said about you- either years ago or today.  If you look at those accusations rationally they probably aren’t true. If they do have a grain of truth and there is something you can do about it and you would benefit, then get to it.  If you disagree, then let it go, because your honest view of yourself is the most important truth.

If its physical looks that have you putting yourself down, get a pen and paper and put down what you’re dissatisfied with.  If there is a flaw you can and wish to do something about, say losing weight or getting a new look- then get to it.  Be honest with yourself about what you have control over, and come up with a reasonable plan to get fit, eat healthier, or get a new haircut.  Anything you don’t control- let it go.  We’re all different and that’s what makes us unique.

Building your self-esteem isn’t going to happen while you sit on the couch or play video games. Effort on behalf of your own Self is the only way to get more, and so another way you can increase your self-esteem is by getting out into the world.  Engaging in something outside of your everyday environment, especially when it’s beneficial to yourself or others, will help you remember how fortunate you really are.  Take a walk, volunteer your time, join a team, take a fun class, or start a new hobby.  It’s important to acknowledge those tasks and goals you’ve accomplished thus far in life as well.  Really take a minute to remember all that you have done: this quarter, this year, and the past 5 years- personally, emotionally, and of course academically.  You are amazing!  Have a safe and happy summer everyone.

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