Whom not to believe

May you be brave, strong, and kind and give no one permission to lower your self-worth.

Dear  friend,  

In a recent study, one out of every two girls avoided activities such as swimming and other sports because of body-image issues, and one out of four girls was afraid to raise her hand in class. So many of us miss out on precious opportunities because we feel inadequate and afraid to speak up. Prevalence of low self-esteem is difficult to precisely measure in the population, but it is likely high. Estimates range from 20 to 80 percent.

I struggle with the same challenge. On most days I could use a pat on the back. When I am left to myself, my self-esteem starts to dip. I get depleted until something lifts me up—a kind e-mail, a warm hello, an authentic smile, a well-meaning text, or any other packet of energy that reminds me that I matter and am worthy.

That doesn’t happen every day. And of course there are days when I encounter more than one instance that makes me feel relatively worthless.

I used to get annoyed and irritated by these occurrences. Later, as I matured, I started focusing on the message and not the messenger. I used the feedback as an opportunity for growth.

However, I have learned that unfortunately there are instances when the negative feedback comes from a place of ignorance. It isn’t a well-meaning critique. The harsh words are meant to be vicious and are not designed to help. I watch for three signs to reach this conclusion—first, when the person doesn’t deliver the feedback with kind words; second, when the person focuses on me rather than the situation; and third, when the feedback doesn’t offer a solution or hope for a solution. I would love to keep learning with each experience. But I am human. There are times when I choose not to learn and instead tell myself I will not believe in a person who doesn’t believe in me.  

May you be brave, strong, and kind and give no one permission to lower your self-worth.

Take care. 


Suggested practice: Today, I will not doubt my capabilities.