Friday, January 21, 2011

The Esteem Project


I rarely make generalizations, there is almost always an exception to every rule.  However as I walk the path of my life there are certain observations I've made which for me have become truths.  Truths of which no one can otherwise convince me as I've encountered them far too often to be coincidental. Today I'm talking about self-esteem and self-image. I hope we can break down some walls, even if it takes a few tears to do it. And it will, it always does.

My truth is this: almost without exception everyone struggles with a confidence or self-esteem issue at some point in their lives. 

We can debate this if you'd like but everything I've seen convinces me that more women than men fight these demons, very commonly in the form of self-image. I don't want to get side-tracked and turn this into a social commentary on the media but we know the weight they carry in influencing how people see themselves. I have a lot of words to describe how I feel about this and they're all scathing. It sickens me.

We men suffer esteem issues as well. Those who strut confidently often do so with false bravado, most guys aren't as together as they show on the outside and the ones who act most indifferent are usually the ones hurting most.  Society has come a long way over the past four decades but it still hasn't set the forum for us to share our emotions openly without seeming weak. Fortunately for me it's all I've ever known so I don't give much thought to someone's opinion of me being open with them.

All of us (myself included) experience insecurity and self-doubt at times, but for some it's all-consuming. I read something yesterday that put it very well, "There's a story behind every person. There's a reason why they are the way they are. They aren't just like that because they want to. Something in the past created them, and sometimes it's impossible to fix them."  I couldn't agree with this more. I've lost track of the number of times people have told me about traumatic past experiences of abuse whether sexual, physical or verbal (which scars just as much). We can't fix people, it's not our place.  But we can ease their pain and let them know they're not alone.

If you want to feel better about yourself I believe the best place to start is by making someone else feel better about themselves first. The most amazing feeling in the world is to be told you've made a difference in someone's life.  It doesn't need to be epic, doesn't have to be life-changing, just something that makes a positive impact.  That moment could be something both of you carry for years.

So where does it start? Simply with a few kind words, spoken or written. We all have people in our lives who affect us and mean something to us.  We're also aware of some who are going through very difficult times. It just takes a couple minutes here and there to let people know how we feel about them. Sometimes it'll catch them off-guard (which isn't always a bad thing).  But I've never known anybody who didn't feel better after hearing how much they're loved, appreciated and thought of. 

A few encouraging words from a stranger can mean more than we'll ever know. I've joined a project called ItStartsWith.Us . Each week they pick someone who's hit a hard time in their life and drop a "love bomb"; in which hundreds of us leave encouraging comments. It's always unexpected, always heartwarming and the results have been pretty amazing. You can click here to find out more.

We complain about the unhappiness and negativity in the world, and while it seems a huge place it's still made up of individuals. The more people we can impact the better chance we have of affecting that thinking. We all deserve to feel better about others and ourselves. 

It starts with each new day, and it starts with us. 


  1. Thanks, Barry. I'll definitely check out that project!

  2. Great post! I agree that everyone has a story and it often shapes who they become/are.

  3. That's great, you're welcome Heather!

  4. Oh gosh, that quote is so heartbreakingly true. This is a wonderful post and you are awesome for being a part of that project. :)

  5. What a great idea. That quote is so true. =)

  6. Sophie- thanks as always for your words. :)

    Mel- so great to see you here! I know I haven't commented much lately but I have been reading you! :)