Today’s question for the Beautiful Like Me project is “what is the best way to build self-esteem.”
Honestly, I think self-esteem isn’t something to be built, but something to be preserved. We come ready made with a strong sense of self. I’m sure of it. My kids are young, 3 and 1 1/2. Both of them love every inch of themselves. Coincidentally, they love every inch of others too. They are able to do what most adults can’t, love and appreciate who they are without needing to diminish what others have. My daughter can tell another girl her hair is pretty without even thinking about her own hair. She can go to another kid’s house or play with another kid’s toys without any thought to how what that kid has compares to what she has. Her eyes and mind digest the world around her with no need to pick it apart and stomp on it or on herself.
It won’t last, I know. Society will make daily attempts to tell my kids how flawed they are, mostly in the hopes they will see the wisdom in opening their wallets and buying their way to a new improved human form. Adults will model for them the tried and true method of making oneself feel better by judging what others have as lacking or less than ideal. The best I can do, in the immediate sense, is make darn sure I’m not one of those adults.
Back to the question for the day, it is important to ask how to build self-esteem since so many of us have had our original infrastructure dismantled. So where do we find the tools and equipment for the rebuild? We could scout out building materials and spend a fortune on supplies and contractors. The handy thing is, in many cases, the boards, bricks and nails we were equipped with originally are still there. They just have to be rediscovered. Time needs to be taken to notice what is great about us again, to celebrate what is fabulous.
Just as my daughter has a good handle on self-esteem, she has also mastered the rediscovery process. She isn’t doing it with her own qualities yet, but with what she has around her. Perhaps we could follow her lead.
She loves to play the ‘present game’. I saved a dark blue velvet box from a gift a few years back. Olivia adores the thing. She frequently stuffs various toys and objects in the box and asks me to open my present. I ooh and ah over the contents. Then it is my turn to find something to hide inside so she has a chance to open a present. She’s always delighted. No matter how many times she’s seen or played with whatever she finds, opening the box and seeing it there is exciting.
Not long ago Olivia had a birthday and was able to open real presents. Interestingly enough, her reaction wasn’t all that different from when she’d been opening a velvet box jammed full of things she already had. Maybe at her tender age Olivia has managed to figure out the best gifts we have are already in our possession. What a blessing if she can find pleasure with what she has versus always wanting more. How thoughtful to take the time to reopen the same old stuff and allow the opportunity to take another look at what makes them so great. It’s so easy to become indifferent over time to the old and crave the new and improved. Perhaps we wouldn’t need so much new in our life if we followed Olivia’s lead and wrapped up the gifts we already have so we can rip them open and rediscover them again. Maybe we could do this with more than material objects. Maybe we could do this with all of the special qualities that make up us and our kids. Maybe we could dedicate time every day to unwrapping the forgotten and cheering with delight. Maybe we could help everyone to realize all that we have and are truly is a gift and that the best part of gifts isn’t the bows or paper that decorates the box, but what lies underneath waiting to be discovered. I know when my daughter is opening presents, the joy and celebration is an impermeable barrier to anything negative. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be so focused on the excitement of our own gifts the messages fall on deaf ears.
Thanks for reading, if you are interested in reading more blogs covering the Beautiful Like Me project, follow the links built into this post to Wicked Step Mom’s site. She is also on my blog roll. The list of participants grows each time. If you’d like to join in the cause, we’d love to have your voice.