One of the components of a teen’s self esteem is a sense of achievement. In my Westlake psychotherapy practice, when I’m doing an assessment for an adolescent, I often have them describe a time when they remember feeling a sense of pride.
Most healthy teenagers can come up with something after giving it some thought. However, when a person suffers from moderate to severe anxiety or depression, their memories and perception often get clouded. When a person has difficulty remembering the last time they felt a sense of pride is the moment I hope will start true introspection and consequently insight development. After realizing that a lack of motivation (e.g from depression) or fear (e.g. from anxiety) inhibits them from making goals in the first place, a person often has the A-ha moment. “Oh, because I feel badly, I don’t set out to change unhealthy habits (isolation, lashing out, or addiction).” And because I do these things, I feel even more self-loathsome.” It becomes a vicious cycle.
One of the reasons I am a proponent of assigning homework to clients is to provide them with opportunities for empowerment by setting and meeting weekly goals. Many kids sit in my office and tell me that when they feel that badly, the list of things to change about themselves or their lives grows to an insurmountable amount. I start with helping them make a list, consolidate redundancies, and prioritize them in terms of importance. Then together we devise small steps to catalyze the change process. And of course, discussing issues that could stifle goal achievement ahead of time enables my client to be proactive should they encounter that challenge.
Similar to my last post about a single drop contributing to a waterfall, setting and reaching small realistic goals can amount to big changes in the way we feel about ourselves. Next blog: In a world inundated with self help and self improvement gurus, how do we learn to love and accept ourselves!