Pause for a moment. How do you feel about yourself? Delve a little deeper and ask the question again. Look in the mirror. Do it again. And what is your truth?
We all have faults and imperfections, but to what extent have you accepted these as par for life’s course or does your appearance, a slight flaw or something niggly in the back of your mind just get you down. Eroded self-confidence is a significant stress point for many people and it can impact every aspect of your life. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Dr Simone Alicia is more bubbly than French champagne. She is the Self Esteem Doctor. The Florida, United States-based coach has gone global in her quest to teach self-esteem, last month launching a global academy online.
She said self-esteem in adults is as important as the development thereof in critical formative years of toddlers, preschoolers and teens. It’s a calling and a passion, she said.
The former model and elementary school teacher was inspired to pursue her path after seeing how children she taught, and their parents, often contributed to a lack of confidence and, ergo self-esteem later, by doubting ability. She said: “And when I was modelling, the backstage obsession with imperfection and the anxieties it caused, really saw the purpose of teaching self-esteem dawn on me.”
And self-esteem is a universe that has momentum of its own. Dr Simone said that the pandemic, and its concomitant isolation, changed quite a bit in all of us. Covid-19 has impacted how people think and feel about themselves and their environment. It has tempered socialising, strained friendships and relationships and at a younger level, it really impacted teens who are very dependent on these aspects during a key period of growing up.
She said: “More than ever we need to make sure that we continually communicate to our kids and share with them the roller coaster rides that life can be. Nothing must be perfect, and that’s ok. It’s equally as important to understand the ‘why’s,” which, she said is important to create a personal connection between a teen and an external engagement like learning.
“Take algebra, it’s important to explain why we need to learn it, its benefits, as opposed to simply instructing a child to do so, ‘because I say so’.”
And the ‘why’ factor influencing people more today than before. Its consequence is a move toward holism of the self. Dr Simone said: “People are trying to soul-search a little bit more around personal development now.”
“And I think with that, we’re finding that self-esteem is becoming equivalent with the idea of mindset.
“And then you bring the notion of mindfulness in there and you bring additional tools like meditation in. And suddenly, all these disciplines become part of what is fundamentally self-esteem. And from that perspective, Covid has in fact had an impact on how people are thinking and feeling about themselves.”
She said that self-esteem is all about how you are thinking and feeling about yourself and your life. And we naturally lean toward the negative.
Dr Simone warns against focusing on negative personal aspects and attributes. “You become an expert at putting yourself down. And then you see the world through that lens, and you can’t necessarily progress on a personal level.”
This, she said, is also particularly true in children.
“Work with your children on their self-talk and not only telling them to have good self-talk but model and demonstrate self-talk within themselves. So that means mom, if you’re standing in front of the mirror and your makeup didn’t come out right the first time, for example, you can just say, you know, I’m going to give this another shot because I know I can get this makeup looking a little better. That goes into your child’s ear rather than, oh my gosh, I’m so ugly, you know, like, I don’t like what’s wrong with me.”
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Even something as trivial-sounding as adult self-talk that speaks to body image can negatively influence young minds. Dr Simone said that comments where you put yourself down, are heard by your children.
“It becomes part of their building blocks because if you think about it, they learn to walk by watching us, they learn to speak, by listening to us.
“So, the rest of that self-talk in that development is going to become a part of it as well for them and the foundation of who they are. So, we model positive self-talk. And it’s not about being fake. You can say I don’t like my makeup. There was still in a very real place here, but there’s a way that we can deliver it that says to a child that you can overcome this and fix it.”
Dr Simone said: “It’s about it’s a choice. We can make a choice to look at all our flaws and imperfections, collect them and plant them in our minds and grow it and nurture them and focus on them because it’s real. Or we can also make a choice to do the harder version of that, which is to go and pull out some of the positives that have happened today and pull out those positive aspects and make those a little bit more a part of your life because those are also real.”
She added that people have come into the habit of saying that being positive is somehow fake and being negative is real.
“That’s not the truth. It just takes a little bit more work and a little bit more focus to find the positive elements, and that strengthens our resolve.”