Day 2 of 40 Day Challenge. I’m blogging about issues around mental wellbeing through lent and would love you to join in with inspiring stories, topics/suggestions for topics etc. Please feel free to follow this blog, comment share etc so we can encourage each other in this area over the coming weeks. You can also contact me privately via the Home page on this Blog site.
A few months ago I bumped into a friend on the train who’s son is going through some really difficult physical challenges. He asked me
“How do I build up his self-esteem?”
It’s such a good and such a challenging question. One I am sure that every parent would love to have a definitive answer for. And of course there will never be one.
For me, the beginning of the answer at least, lies in acceptance.
- Acceptance that our hopes and dreams for someone are entirely separate to theirs
- Acceptance of the wonderful uniqueness of those around us
- Acceptance of the fact that the words we speak, the messages we give out and the way we act will have a huge impact on the way that those around us will come to view and understand themselves
Whether we are a parent or not, we can probably all relate to the sense of wanting others to share in our own world view, experiences, beliefs etc. This is perfectly natural, and very often binds us in a sense of community or belonging. However, when trying to foster self esteem in someone else, then our own sense of self needs to get out of the way! We need to truly tune into the emerging (or already developed) sense of self of the other, picking up their hopes and dreams and becoming their champion. We need to cheer loudly and support from the side lines, allowing them to run their race. We can run ours later.
We not only need to allow for differences, but celebrate them! Before I had children I used to imagine little miniature Tristans running around the place, doing the things I like and being an extension of who I am. And whilst we may share DNA, I am so glad that my children are entirely individual! As a parent, or even a close friend, relative etc. it is so easy to feel a sense of love for those around us. It’s also really easy to slip into a kind of conditional love, where the more someone is like us, the more we feel love for them. I’m not saying this is deliberate, perhaps more a subconscious tendency to be drawn towards those who tick our boxes. This sends out a subtle, yet powerful message that leaves the individual trying to live up to others’ expectations, rather than growing a strong sense of self.
I guess this all sounds very idealistic, and it really is. It is very easy to sit here and ponder these things and form opinion. It is so much harder to actually live this out. However, I believe that if we can even just personally acknowledge the distinction between ourselves and the selves of those around us, if we can, from time to time, remind ourselves of this distinction, then that alone could have a huge and positive impact on the self esteem of those we love.
What’s your story, experience or views on this? I’d love to hear. Please feel free to comment below.