Self Education: Surviving the Emotions of High School
Being a teen can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, life as a teenager can be difficult as well. That's because this is a time when most things in our lives are changing. These changes range from our relationships with our parents, friends and the opposite sex, to the way that we look. As a result, the way that we feel about ourselves can get a little shaky at times. Even the most confident teen can be effected by the highs and lows associated with this period in our lives. Some of the time it's the people around us that make us feel bad about ourselves. Other times we're more critical of ourselves than anyone else. Even magazines and celebrities portray unrealistic images that can damage our self-esteem.
It can be hard not to base our self-worth on the things that affect us so strongly as teenagers. It's important to realize that we are worthy of love, no matter how imperfect we might seem or how many changes we're going through. But, we have to start by loving ourselves first. Without self-love and acceptance, poor self-esteem can take over. Low self-esteem can make you fall into bad habits and behaviors that are self-destructive. Destructive tendencies to avoid, include:
Need for Approval
Friends are usually a part of a person's support group, and if you're lucky they can be like family sometimes. Unfortunately, when a teen feels out of place or like an outsider they might do things they normally wouldn't do, to try and fit in. This won't make you feel better and it can actually make you feel worse. You won't attract people that will be genuine friends this way, and you might face repercussions for any bad actions. Instead, try to be yourself and act kindly. Sometimes you don't get immediate results from this approach but it always works out better in the end. Stay true to yourself because no matter who your friends are, you are always with yourself.
When some people feel bad about themselves, they want everyone to feel the same way too. That's why some people pick on others. Being a bully may make other people feel bad, but it won't make you feel better about yourself.
When suffering from poor self-esteem, some people tell lies to make themselves appear different from who they actually are. When teens hide their true selves behind lies it can quickly get out of hand. Eventually people find out about them, and it makes the person telling the lies seem untrustworthy. Friends may even be lost. In the end, lying won't improve our feelings of self-worth; instead it will just make us feel worse about ourself.
Sometimes parents can be too restrictive, but they love you and want what's best for you. Try not to take all your anger out on your family, if you're feeling bad go for a walk until your emotions calm down or take up a hobby that allows you to express yourself- like music, art or a physical activity. Usually the limits parents set are meant as protection. If you feel like a rule is too harsh, try to express your thoughts to them in a respectful way. You may be able to make both sides feel better once you start a discussion. You will be surprised how your parents react to this approach. It will cut down arguments and it will show them that you can handle disagreements in a mature way.
The choice of drinking alcohol is something every teen is faced with. It is legally restricted to adults 21 and older, consequently, a lot of teens are drawn to drinking because it makes them feel more grown up. In reality it is restricted because drinking alcohol has serious side effects on developing brains, which continue to change into our twenties. Binge drinking is dangerous even after turning 21 and is a big problem on many college campuses. Alcohol impairs judgment from the first drink. It can cause a person to do things that are harmful to themselves or others. Drinking and driving is one of the more dangerous outcomes of drinking alcohol but it can lead teens to do any number of embarrassing things.
Depression and low self-esteem generally go hand in hand. When people feel bad about themselves, they start to feel depressed. This can effect how teens see the world around them and how they see themselves.
Can you relate to any of the things that I've mentioned? If you're struggling with low self-esteem and find that you're behaving in one of these negative ways, you can overcome it. I can say this with certainty because I've struggled to overcome them myself. It might be difficult, but even the effort will start to change how you feel about yourself. There are several steps that can get you on the right path:
1. Make the decision to make the effort. I know it's hard to make the first step toward building yourself back up, but if you honestly want to feel better about yourself, then make a promise to yourself to do what it takes.
2. List out things that you like about yourself - no matter how small they are. Sometimes when we focus on our problems they seem to grow.
3. What are you good at? Write that down on your list as well. Also write down the things you wish you were good at, and make attempts to achieve your goals.
4. Accept that you are lovable just the way you are. You don't have to explain your likes, quirks or anything about yourself. These things make you unique and the awesome person that you are!
5. What makes you happy when you do it? Make it a habit to do the things that you enjoy, simply for the pleasure that it brings you.
6. When your self-esteem is at its lowest take a moment to breathe in deeply. Relax, and don't judge yourself. Sometimes just stepping back for a minute and focusing on simply existing and breathing can be like hitting the reset button on your emotions.
7. Talk to someone! Try friends or family, but if you're embarrassed or feel like you can't talk to them there are other options. Go to support groups or even therapy. The truth is, if you're feeling bad there is probably at least one other person in your community that has felt, or feels the same. People tend to put on a happy face, but everybody has something that upsets them. Talking about your problems can help you see things from a different perspective.
The road to positive self-esteem can be a hard one to travel. Hopefully, what I've had to say has been helpful and that it will inspire you to start your own journey toward self-love. Along the way, remember to avoid those behaviors that can make your path toward self-esteem more difficult.
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