I’m talking about Project Awesome again today, which aims to help teens go from feeling awful to feeling awesome about themselves.
Self-esteem issues are close to my heart because, as a teen fiction author, it's true that most characters in YA novels don't feel like they’re good enough. This is just a true reflection of real life because it’s an issue MOST teens have—and so do a lot of adults.
So last week we discussed how negative beliefs in yourself become so deep seated that you actually believe them like they’re a fact. The trick is to change those deep seated beliefs into positive ones. Pretending you’re fine when you’re not, is NOT okay.
Many people who suffer from low self-esteem have a tendency to only pay attention to things which confirm their negative view of themselves. If you struggle with low self-esteem, you probably rarely pay attention to the positive things you do, your positive qualities, positive outcomes or positive comments from others.
If you were asked to list some positive qualities about yourself, how would you respond? If you suffer from low self-esteem, you might struggle to bring things to mind.
What do you do when you need to remember stuff? You write them down. So I want you to start an Awesomeness Journal which is going to be a record of all your positive qualities. No matter how small or modest or insignificant you think your positive qualities are, You must write them down.
If you get stuck, ask yourself questions like:
What are some of my achievements?
What are some challenges I have faced?
What are some great skills or talents that I have?
What do others say they like about me?
How might someone who cared about me describe me—a friend or a relative for instance?
If I met a new friend today, what would they like about me after spending some time together?
Remember, when you’re writing this down you’ll probably start saying things like “I’m really conscientious with my school work”, but then you’ll add, “except I was late with my English homework that one time”. But don’t discount that quality of being conscientious. No one is perfect. But if you generally have that quality, write it down. If you do think negatively and try to discount your good quality, acknowledge that you have a bad habit of putting yourself down, and then move on.
If you’re really struggling to find qualities about yourself that you think are positive, ask a friend or trusted family member to help you.
Now give examples of how you showed your positive quality. For instance, if your positive quality is that you are a caring person toward your friends, list the times you showed this ie you took over the homework assignment to a sick friend, or you helped them deal with a family issue they were having by talking to them until 2am in the morning until they felt better.
Yes this takes time, but taking the time to write down the actual instances you SHOWED the positive quality will help you really believe you own that quality, rather than just telling yourself that you do.
And once you’ve started the Awesomeness Journal, keep it going. Write in it every day—maybe when you wake up or are about to go to sleep. Think of the things you did today that show your positive qualities.
So going back to Shae, a character in my novel, Sassy Jam—she believed she wasn’t as good as boys are at sailing and navigating (because of the maths required) because that’s what her dad told her time and again. And she believed him because she never thought about the times she did solo sail and not muck things up. She only concentrated on the times she messed up, and she allowed herself to be told to go prepare a meal instead of battling a storm with her dad and brother on deck. It’s only when she was forced to sail and navigate her way out of a life-threatening situation that she began to change her beliefs in herself. Now you don’t have to prove yourself in quite such a dangerous way because the Awesomeness Journal will work just as well.
This is just one step toward going from feeling awful to feeling awesome about yourself. Next week in step 2, we’ll talk about how to stop negatively evaluating yourself. Also, make sure you subscribe to receive updates, reminders and book launch news in occasional e-newsletters.