For several years now, I have focused much of my writing and speaking engagements on self-esteem wounds and the impact of those wounds. I have preached the message that everyone has some self-esteem vulnerabilities and that many have been deeply wounded by past negative experiences. I have tried to speak for those who have difficulty speaking for themselves; the criticized boy who believes himself to be inadequate and stupid or the abandoned girl who sees herself as unimportant or not loveable.
And yet, I’m still shocked at times by the depth of some self-esteem wounds, or by the impact of those wounds. I’m reminded of the extent of the problem in our schools. I imagine the faces of kids who walk the halls every day, trying to act like they have it all together, or just trying to be invisible.
Some cover their insecurities by being loud, trying to be funny or even bullying. Others don’t speak, don’t make eye contact and move silently from class to class until the final bell rings. Some dread lunch because they feel everyone’s eyes focusing on them as they walk through the cafeteria. They imagine a wave of critical thoughts and words following them, as they try to find a table where they won’t be shunned, or worse, asked to move on.
For many, adulthood is better. We learn to worry less about others’ opinions and focus our attention to the tasks at hand. For many, however, the struggle continues throughout life. It doesn’t show, as adults are more adept at acting like they have it all together. Those with deeper self-esteems, those with particularly negative childhood experiences, continue to see themselves as inadequate, unimportant or defective.
Why don’t we do more to address the issue. Why aren’t there more programs in schools, communities or churches to help people rid themselves of their self-esteem wounds. Is it because we don’t care? Perhaps, but I hope not. Is it because we don’t have any idea what to do? That’s a big part of it, but I think the biggest reason is that we still imagine that we are the only ones with such feelings. We believe it when others say they are “fine.” We concluded as children that everyone else was okay, and we maintain the delusion.
Question: Why do you think so little is done to help children and adolescents deal with self-esteem wounds? Tell us what you think.