Johannesburg – Simply put, self-esteem is a person’s opinion of themselves. It is how one thinks and feels about themselves and the way that one determines their value. Self-esteem impacts us on every level of our life, by being our biggest helper or the thing that holds us back.
It is something we often take for granted or don’t reflect on as much. For something that plays such a huge role in who we are, it is sad to see that we don’t give it the attention it deserves. Contrary to widespread belief, Nazia Salejie – a Life Coach – says self-esteem and the way you think about yourself “starts at a very young age”.
“This word is so holistic, and it speaks to so many areas of your life and what’s amazing is, it changes as you age. If you know your worth from a young age, if as a child you are cultivated to believe certain things about yourself, that gives rise to such a more assertive, self-aware person who makes good decisions which are healthy for the mind, body, and soul. Self-esteem does not start when someone is a teenager. It starts from the time you can start computing what’s happening around you. It’s something that is just such a broad wonderful topic to explore.”
Self-esteem is linked to your mental health. Salejie expressed that “some people have the ability to pull themselves out of a dark situation” just by knowing how much they are worth and what they are capable of. With that level of self-esteem and self-awareness, they can ensure they don’t remain in that situation for too long.
One of the best things to do, and often looked down upon, is self-talk. It happens every day “whether we want to acknowledge it or not,” explains Salejie. Talking to yourself is an effective way to build up self-esteem but the tone of your inner voice must be positive and not negative.
“You have this inner voice in you that is programmed to be negative. People always see the negative. That’s why it is so difficult to be a positive person because it requires more effort [to be positive]. To see the negative disease, anybody can do it, but to see the positive, you’ve got to look harder, you’ve got to train yourself to look past the negative, you’ve got to decide what you can control and what you can’t control in situations and then you need to take it from there.”
The new age has also brought new challenges. With the introduction of social media, anyone can comment on a picture of us or a post and that can be detrimental to someone who doesn’t have high self-esteem.
“You’re seeing that this is affecting people’s mental health. How can someone who doesn’t know you, pulls you or pushes you to the brink of breaking, but if you have a positive self-esteem, and it takes a lot to build yourself up to that point, you know even if I post something and somebody comments in a negative sense, or they don’t have a good opinion of me, their opinion is not my reality.”
To build yourself up to such a point that you can shrug off negative comments is “a skill that is part and parcel of self-esteem”. To get to this point of shrugging things off, “you have to know your worth, know your value, know where you’re going and what you are focused on and don’t be shaken because you cannot respond to every person”.
Salejie encourages that it’s important to understand and accept that there will be those around us who like us and there will be those who don’t. It’s up to us to “be strong enough not to change like a chameleon”.
We are living in an age of influencers, who portray their lives as perfect, steering the youth in everything from fashion, food, fitness and even philosophy. The result is a generation who compares their lives to an airbrushed pseudo-reality.
“We’ve got an age of influencers now where there are people on social media who post things and these kids, and these people follow them and compare themselves and it affects the self-esteem because you don’t know the whole story. You don’t know what this person is going through behind the scenes. You’re only seeing the reality that they have constructed.”
The important thing is to remember to take a step back from life and look at your accomplishments and how far you have come. In this way, you can properly see your value and self-worth. Have those positive self-talks regularly and remember, only you determine your worth, nobody else.