I designed this self-esteem scale as a quick reference tool for the teen girls I work with. It’s notso much a scale as it is a starting point for building healthy self-esteem. It allows for honest reflection on where you see your self-esteem presently and where you would like it to be. Remember, self-esteem is not “fixed” meaning… it can change and grow with time.
1–3: Your self-esteem is on the lower end. You’re more concerned with how others view you or define you. You basically see yourself through the eyes of others. You don’t trust in your own decisions. You tend to go along with the crowd, whether you want to or not. You don’t rock the boat and aren’t sure how to stand up for yourself in tough situations. You don’t like to make others angry and will avoid confrontation at all costs. You aren’t sure if you can trust your friends 100%. You may have felt bullied at some point in life and still feel negative effects from it.
4-6: You have moderate self-esteem. You look to others for guidance when making decisions. You trust in what others say a bit more than trusting in yourself. You sometimes hold back how you feel because you’re concerned about your friends passing judgment. You can be a people pleaser. You feel you can comfortably trust your friends 75-80% of the time with most information without them using it against you.
7–8: You have relatively strong self-esteem. You have a strong sense of self and you listen to yourself over the opinions of others. You aren’t easily swayed into uncomfortable situations and rarely feel peer pressured. You are unique and independent, and you can comfortably stand up for what is right without worrying about the consequences. You have a strong group of friends that you trust 80% to 100% of the time.
9-10: You have high self-esteem. You are comfortable in most situations at school and with friends. You are comfortable with all aspects of yourself. You’re accepting of your friends and the way they are. You do not fall victim to peer pressuring or bullying and don’t allow it to occur around you either. You do not feel the need to judge or gossip about others. You are a trustworthy friend.
Questions for Reflection
1) Where do you see yourself on the scale of self-esteem and why?
2) What external factors (looks, grades, boyfriends, etc.) do you depend on to “raise” your self-esteem?
3) Can any of these factors truly help your long-term self-esteem? Explain.
Here is an excerpt from a piece I submitted to a healthyplace.com.
“Mothers need to be deeply aware of what they convey to their daughters through the attitudes they model about their own relationship to their bodies, their self-talk about how they look or “ought to” look, and how secure they seem in their choices. When a mother is battling low self-esteem or not even battling because she’s unaware it’s a root cause of frustration within her life, her daughter is likely to carry this burden as well. If a woman has spent her lifetime locked in a cycle of dieting, hatred of her own body and carries a sense of inadequacy, her daughter will understand that that is an acceptable way to consider oneself, although it’s not. This will inhibit a girl from feeling positively about her own body and she may even come to believe that negative talk is a way to bond with her mother or that being positive about herself is a form of unacceptable bragging.”
To read more, please click here.
Everyone has those moments. Moments in which you’re not certain if you’re doing the right thing or making the right choice. Moments in which you think back to that thing you said at the party and wish you could take it back, but you can’t. There are times when you question whether or not you used good judgment or acted too impulsively due to anger or fear or something else. All of this questioning is a sign of self-doubt.
Self-doubt is present in every person’s life and it can mean a moment’s hesitation before making a decision or it can be a paralyzing force that keeps you from taking action. For teenage girls, who may feel particularly susceptible to what others are thinking about them, self-doubt can be a daily intruder into their thoughts or a shadow that whisks certainty away from almost every decision. Sometimes girls express their self-doubt as a way of bonding with friends, either by not appearing to be too arrogant, i.e. masculine, and forthright with their decisions, or, by using self-doubt to consult with a BFF at all times. But what might seem to be second-guessing can have deeper consequences in terms of a girl’s self-esteem.
Having low self-esteem can be a serious result of too much self-doubt. If you don’t hold yourself in high regard, or keep a strong base of emotional resilience stored against how things might turn out, you’re likely to question your decision-making skills and if your instincts are right about things. Fundamentally, self-doubt is a contributor to low self-esteem, rather than the same thing. Doubting yourself constantly, whether by engaging in comparison with others, or holding yourself to an idealized and impossible goal, is a recipe for lowering your self-esteem, because you aren’t staying true to the conviction that you know what’s best for you. Building up a stronger reservoir of self-esteem will help battle those self-doubt demons when they go on the attack.
But, how do you do this? Or help a teenage daughter or friend to do this? Encourage girls to be in touch with what they really want, not what they think they should want. Do this by (as much as possible) shutting out the media’s messages to girls and going inward to think through what your inner voice most calls out for. Meditate, create a vision board, or trace out the paths of other strong women and think through what decisions got them to the place you admire. Imagine the stresses they endured, but overcame, and think about how it’s possible to do that as well.
Draw on supportive friends who will affirm your decisions, and back you up if you feel you’ve made a wrong one and need to make a change. Practice telling yourself you know best for yourself and shutting out negative voices that tell you otherwise. Learn to be confident that you’re acting with your own best intentions as your top priority and can be ready to face whatever consequences might come. This will help bolster your self-esteem and work to erase the voices that can question every decision you make.