Self Esteem – am I not good enough?
(‘a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value’)
Low self-esteem and self-worth are at an all-time high for young people. With mental health issues rising as a result of social pressures; family challenges; and attempting to fit into a world which deems ‘perfection’ by your physical appearance; attire; creed; colour; race; sexuality; status; bank balance; car; home and the list goes on; to the point of seclusion for not meeting the criteria of what perceived ‘perfection’ is.
‘The girls feel pressured by the boys that they should look a particular way and that leads girls into depression or low self-esteem and makes girls feel ugly or worthless.’
Girl, Secondary school age
We live in a man divided world, which deliberately creates separation and isolation for so many of us, through the above methods and more, to the point of one feeling completely rejected; an outcast; for not conforming to the ideals of society. A society which hasn’t even taken the time to get to know you or your life’s journey, but feel it has the right to define your life for you, based on its ideals.
And it feels really crap to be in that place of attempting to fit into something you feel you don’t belong to, but, you’re going along with it because you have little self-esteem or self-worth and something, no matter how far removed it is, is better than nothing? Right?
Seeds are sown at a very young age
When I was a little girl, my brother jokingly told me, they (my family) found me in the gutter and bought me to their home. While some may laugh at this and see my brother as playing and teasing, for an innocent and empathic child, this became my truth.
And it was embedded in my subconscious mind as I believed him in that moment.
Picture this, at the age of 7, on an Autumn morning, I was in school assembly. The main school hall was wooden, with tall windows, the sun sending golden rays across the polished wooden floor and the children from my primary school were sitting on the floor. As the assembly continued, a young lad called Fred was saying something above the Headteachers reading. The Headteacher pointed at me and asked me why I was giggling, and, as I was always raised to speak the truth, I said, ‘Fred was making us laugh’. The Headteacher, Mrs Turner, asked me to sit and called Fred up, and asked him to meet her after assembly had finished.
I thought that was the end of it. Until of course, Fred, found me at playtime and punched me a few times for speaking up. I didn’t lie. I answered a question truthfully. The punches hurt, but, I was alive, and was warned by Fred, to never do it again. Or else. I told no one. No one saw it happen in the school playground and at that moment, I decided to stay away from
Fred and keep quiet.
I didn't fit in at school.
Another time, as a young girl, I bought a packet of beef flavoured crisps from the school tuck shop. A group of Punjabi girls saw me eating them and soon began picking on me for eating ‘beef’ flavoured crisps. As Indians, we don’t/didn’t eat beef. The girls had surrounded me, about 4 of them, and began cursing me and pointing their fingers at me. Of course, I was terrified and didn’t know what to do except fold the packet of crisps and hide them in my coat pocket. They eventually stopped and went away, but, I felt awful. I was eating something different. Something which had a different flavour. There was no ‘beef’ in it, just a flavour. Will I be punished by God, as the girls said I would for eating these? In that moment, I believed I would and stopped eating them.
I wanted to die
I was terrified to talk to anyone about anything. I felt I lived on borrowed time and anything I was given, was a real gift and I needed to be eternally grateful for it. I felt indebted to my family and did my best to be a good little girl save being told off. If my parents ever argued (most parents did), I would hide behind the sofa and pray to ‘God’ to take me away as it was all my fault. I believed they were angry because of me as I wasn’t good enough and it was my fault. I cried and prayed ‘please, God, please, I beg you, please take me away, I want to die.’ It was painful. The belief had been embedded into my being and that was the long and short of my life.
I was beholden and captured by this belief. I was a prisoner of this belief. Authority. Elders, Peers never lied and if they said something, this was the truth and the absolute truth, because they are our guardians and caregivers. They would never lie. Never. Or so I believed.
Oh, my poor and innocent little self who was so incredibly vulnerable and naïve had a difficult path set before her.
Attempting to fit in
My self-esteem was so low, that I thought having a fight with a girl, would create some level of popularity and bravado. I must have been 11. The poor girl, Farzana, was lovely, and at no point had she said anything to create any animosity. I felt I HAD to have a fight as a way of being accepted by the rest of the girls at school for I had been a loner for so long.
Mum had asked me at lunch time (we went home for lunch), why I was hiding my fingers. I had clipped my nails to a sharp point to scratch her (advised by the popular girls). A group of kids got together waiting for the fight, (I had never had a fight, my younger sister, used to beat me up all the time), so I wasn’t surprised when Farzana took me by the head and pinned me down in between the school fence and the school boundary and punched me, while I was trying to scratch her. She let me go (I was lucky as it could have been a lot worse) with the group of kids around us cheering along.
The fight was all of 2 minutes. It was pathetic. It happened so quickly. I felt like an idiot as I couldn’t defend myself. The kids said I had lost as she had pinned me down. I just wanted to be accepted. I wanted to fit in and be friends with more people. Funny thing is, a year later, Farzana leant me an egg at a Home Economics class as one of mine broke. Funny world, huh?
The fight didn’t help me. It broke me down a little further and I felt embarrassed and ashamed and isolated myself even further.
This isolation continued to deepen in family situations and I became afraid of life. Indian girls did the housework, they learnt how to mend and stitch socks and buttons and, most importantly, how to cook. Whilst these skills are serving me very well as an adult (although I’m not much into darning socks) as a young girl, these were a chore and something you did as a female to serve the male. And, if you could cook very well, and look after your home, you would be the perfect housewife for your husband and his family. Plus, your Mother in Law would love and accept you. Yep, that’s what I believed and so did many other girls then.
And I did that. But deep down, I wanted to be a boy. I hated being a girl. Girls were worthless. They were only capable of doing housework, cooking, washing and the dirty work. Boys could go out and play and ride a bike and be free. Girls had to do as they were told. Boys did what they wanted and that was ok. Girls were raised to be good wives and mothers. Boys where raised to rule. Girls were a financial burden to their families. Boys created wealth and were showered with it. Girls were created to serve the male.
Am I not good enough?
All these beliefs. Deeply embedded in my subconscious mind, guiding and directing me every day. This was my frequency to the world and what I was projecting without even knowing it.
And this continued to be my belief about myself. No one would ever want to marry me. No one would want to be around me, I was ugly.
When I was 11, which was the first year at secondary school, we were asked to pair up in class. I looked around me and went to one girl, and then another, and then another, but none of them wanted to pair up. I began feeling unwanted. You know the feeling, the anticipation of being chosen to be part of group or a team, but not being chosen. I paired up with a boy, who wasn’t chosen by the other boys, so we worked together. When we completed our art project we created a most beautiful Dodo. It was so beautiful, all the boys and girls who didn’t want to be paired up with us, wanted to get their names on the final piece which was displayed in class.
For a moment, a reason, I was popular. The class wanted to be associated with us both, the boy Jasbir, and I. It was for a fleeting hour or two; a good feeling, but it didn’t last.
Before long, we were both forgotten, and life went on.
Being unable to speak to anyone about how I felt had a devastating effect throughout my teens and my early adult life. The bullying made matters much worse and being born into a dysfunctional family where chores and housework where a priority, made life a painful ordeal.
I battled with this for most of my life, hoping one day I would be good enough to be wanted, loved and cherished for who I was. The conditioning led me into a relationship where I became a prisoner to mental and emotional abuse and reverted to being enslaved by my lack of self-worth and low self-esteem. I completely lost myself. It took me 18 months to get out of that relationship and I remained single for many years after.
It was only after a major life trauma in my early thirties, which was a catalyst to my path of self-awareness that I began to peel back the layers of insecurities, judgements, hidden beliefs and conditioning. As I stripped back the impact of those early years and the environment around me, I no longer saw myself through perceptions and judgements of others. I began to gain a level of self-esteem and self-worth. It was deep, transformational, and many painful emotions arose, but the freedom and liberation to be myself and all I stood for, was and is well worth it.
Have you experienced this freedom and liberation to be your true and authentic self?
Sadly, in todays’ society, this continues to be the norm. What I understand and have witnessed, to be accepted and fit in to the ideals of the world, girls:
· need to dress a certain way
· need to be accepted by boys
· need to be willing to partake in sexual interactions
· need to be a certain body size
· need to be popular and the connotations of that
· and much more
And these ideals can have a devastating effect on ones’ health and wellbeing and are leading to mental health challenges such as low self-esteem; lack of self-worth; anxiety and panic attacks; stigma; bullying and can lead to self-harm; depression; truancy and suicide.
Can anyone help?
Many young (and older) people find it challenging to communicate their feelings to their families and friends, as they do not want to be judged or even punished.
This truly upsets me as the younger years, in my opinion, are about self-discovery; exploration of your environment, an awareness of identity and being joyful, creative, playful and having fun.
Fortunately, these days there are many charities, organisations and groups to support young people. The digital age can be used to ones’ advantage through listening to podcasts and interviews with people who are inspiring and have transformed their lives and can now teach others.
Some of the key things I do to help support people is listen to them; believe in them and help them transform their lives by Unlocking their Limitless Potential. Within each of us, is a most incredible source of power. A power so strong, it can stop wars and help people transform their lives.
And by realising what this power is, and accepting and owning it, we harness the tools, wisdom and strengths within ourselves to create a life of freedom and joy.
It has taken me many years of inner work and stripping back the layers of conditioning, programming and the negative limiting beliefs to harness this power and yield the rewards.
Are you ready to harness yours by Unlocking Your Limitless Potential?
Contact me now.
With love and gratitude
Catalyst for Change
Unlocking Your Limitless Potential