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The Impact of Lacking Self-Esteem - And I Am Not Taking About The Kids
Studies show that at least 85% or more of the world's people suffer from some degree of lacking self-esteem and it is important to know that it is not just the kids.

by Dore Frances, IEC, MA, founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC
Since January I have been traveling about 2 weeks out of each month visiting many programs and schools as well as presenting parent workshops. I have noticed that it is not just the kids that are lacking self-esteem. Although one might think that such challenges are only characteristic of the poor, uneducated, or lower socio-economic members of society, I have experienced people from all walks of life, all education levels, both staff at residential programs and parents attending the seminars, suffering situational or more widespread challenges with their levels of self-esteem. Many very successful business people and parents I have recently experienced in my travels lack self-esteem in some areas of their lives. I also have met some staff that are not much older than the kids they are assisting, who also are lacking in their own self-esteem. Perhaps they feel socially challenged or they have difficulty establishing close or intimate relationships. Perhaps they experience low self-esteem with regard to their physical appearance or their health. Perhaps they are not having any fun in their lives, maybe devoting too much attention to their work or working too many hours (as one person said to me). Many "successful" people are driven to succeed.

They compensate for feeling deficient in other areas of their lives by working harder and finding a place they can excel through their work. This provides them with a new focus where they think they can "win", yet it doesn't fulfill their neglected needs in other areas like relationships, recreation, personal and spiritual development, health and appearance and their ability to lead balanced, fun, and fulfilling lives. It's not that there is something "wrong" with finding an occupational niche where one can be passionate and successful and feel good about oneself. Not at all. However, many of those lacking self-esteem in other areas find themselves driven to accomplish, driven to prove their worth. Since business or their profession is an area where they can shine, they neglect other areas to focus excessively in this area. Many times this is why kids feel less than important at home. However, since theses adult actions are built upon the erroneous belief that they are somehow not good enough, somehow defective or unworthy of being fully loved and accepted, there is little lasting satisfaction even in the arenas where they can excel. Is this not what the kids are experiencing? It's as though they are climbing a ladder with the top of the ladder in the clouds.

They think that if they can just climb high enough, they will be successful. They will have "proven" their worth. They will find satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment. However, as they climb higher and higher, they never seem to arrive. There are always new goals and objectives challenging them to prove their worth.

How much family time is lost as this is happening? The more they achieve, the more they have yet to go. Try as they will, they never seem to fully measure up. This is what the kids tell me they feel about themselves. Or, when they do finally feel achievement, it is short-lived and fleeting at best. There is no arriving to the point where they find what they long for so badly - the peace of mind that comes from self-love and self-acceptance. The same thing their kids want to feel. Since this is often times what the kids are struggling with in residential programs, I have to wonder how it is the kids are learning from the staff that are feeling themselves that they will never measure up? In fact, from the perspective of one person I met with on a tour, they will never reach the perfection they seek so badly. They will always find evidence to highlight their flaws and reinforce their fears of being unworthy, unlovable, defective in some way. In addition to the cost of never finding true happiness, long-term fulfillment, or peace, lacking self-esteem impacts adults in many other ways. For example, by not getting to the source of their self-esteem issues, they sacrifice their personal power, their ability to best pursue their life purpose and fully manifest their gifts in the world. When energy is spent by being preoccupied with weaknesses or being incomplete with the past, a person may never be fully present and so they sacrifice their true potential to be their very best. Maybe it was the time of day, or that they were feeling overworked, or that the kids were "acting up" even more that day, or the very hot weather, or the fact they felt on edge - whatever it was, I met several people who are working with children in residential programs that definitely did not seem present to either my questions while touring or to the kids as I sat and observed. Relationships will suffer as a person misinterprets the words and actions of others in a way that invalidates them. Although I believe what I observed several times was unintentional, this can lead the kids they are assisting to feel even more badly about who they are.

Some people are so driven to prove that they are good enough that they sacrifice their personal effectiveness and charisma by focusing on themselves and their deficiencies rather than on the wants and needs of others. I experienced this especially with younger staff working with kids. When you are staff at a residential program, this can become ineffective. Kids are very good at "playing small" and they are experts at hiding out in situations or whenever the possibility of looking bad or "being found out" comes up for them.

Adults may overcompensate and turn to workaholic tendencies out of a desire to prove their worth to others or to themselves.

Because of this misdirected focus, they trade their ability to impact others maximally and to best contribute their gifts to the world.

By raising self-esteem, they will realize a wide variety of benefits in their professional and personal lives. Those with high self-esteem are more effective in their communication and more likely to establish richer, more rewarding relationships. People with greater self-confidence possess a more positive expectation for the future.

They feel good about their ability to accomplish a result and so they are more proactive, are in more focused action, and have less of a tendency to sabotage themselves along the way as those lacking self-esteem typically do. Those believing in their abilities are less driven to prove themselves as worthy and so they are less prone to burnout. They relax more and tend to have fun more often and are less stressed since they have less to prove. Those with a higher self-image are also more likely to savor their accomplishments rather than find ways to invalidate them. In their personal lives, people with elevated esteem tend to be more at peace, and it truly shows. Because they are less likely to be invalidated at the slightest provocation and are less likely to fear being dominated by their own adult peers, they tend to get along better with others. I experienced an adult working with teens being provoked and it was obvious the adult felt dominated. The adult took the steps to justify themselves during a confrontation. I have seen this between parents and their kids as well.

Being less scarcity-based a person can tend to make time for both work as well as recreation and passions rather than being driven to prove themselves worthy in those areas where they feel deficient.

No one needs to settle for a dimmed existence due to a lacking sense of self-worth. Most people either make up or buy into thoughts that there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow inadequate, not good enough and not worthy of being loved and accessing all the good things that life has to offer.

When they are willing to examine their past to get to the source of their resignation and diminished self-esteem, they can reinterpret what happened to them in such a way that they can heal and complete the past and eliminate negative self-talk while making a conscious decision to live their lives from a decision to strive for excellence and contribute to others. Is this not what the kids are needing to be taught in their residential programs? How can an adult teach this, show this by example, and live this in front of these very smart and manipulative kids when they are not willing to examine their own past? Does this come from fear of self-examination?

For adults and kids, by developing a firm belief that they can impact people and the world around them and that they are, in fact, very worthy of receiving life's blessings, they will manifest happiness and fulfillment. In short, we can live with the intention to honor our God-given magnificence and lead happy, fulfilled lives that fully contribute to others as we embrace our humanity and share the unique and special person we are with the world.

Dore Frances, IEC, MA, is an educcational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
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Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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