What About Me?

Peer Pressure

Self Esteem

Teenage Self Esteem ProblemsBuilding self esteem can help you deal with anything life hands you! Confidence and good character doesn't just happen - you need to build it. When you have self confidence and good character, you will be admired and will be an inspiration to others.

Did you know that low self esteem is the root of many teen problems?

Consider these examples:

Stephanie - is a beautiful 14-year-old girl who does well in school and has dozens of friends, yet she is secretly struggling with an eating disorder and has thought about committing suicide.

Luke - is in his first year of college. He's popular and well liked, but he can frequently be heard criticizing his girlfriend's appearance and using negative comments to control her.

Stephen - is 15 years old, and his parents complain that he is often rude and insensitive and always seems angry; but underlying his offensive communication style are feelings of abandonment and frustration with life.

These three teens are real people, and they are struggling with the same issues that almost all teens face in their everyday lives. And just like most teens, the source of their problems can be linked to low self-esteem.

How high or low is your self esteem?
Take the test and find out

Just answer true or false to the following questions. Remember - be honest! If you can't answer 100% true to a question, then answer false. Then check below to see your score.

1. I accept myself as I am and am happy with myself.
2. I deserve love and respect.
3. I feel valued and needed.
4. Being myself is important.
5. Other people are not better off or more fortunate than me.
6. I enjoy socializing.
7. I don't need others to tell me I have done a good job.
8. I make friends easily.
9. I can accept criticism without feeling put down.
10. I admit my mistakes openly.
11. I never hide my true feelings.
12. I always speak up for myself and put my views across.
13. I am a happy carefree person.
14. I don't worry about what others think of my views.
15. I don't need others' approval to feel good.
16. I don't feel guilty about doing or saying what I want.

Peer PressureTest Scores:
Give yourself one point for every true answer you gave.
15-16 points - You have a high level of self-esteem.
12-14 points - Not bad, but room for improvement.
8 - 11 points - Low self-esteem. It's holding you back.
Below 8 points - Drastically low self-esteem.

Without self esteem you may:

Struggle with feelings of inadequacy.
Be unable to choose stable relationship partners.
Have difficulty saying "no."
Be unable to control anger.
Struggle as a perfectionist.
Have feelings of intense jealousy.
Be unable to set and achieve realistic goals.

Very low self esteem can also result in:

Suicidal thoughts.
Drug and alcohol abuse.
Eating disorders.
Criminal activity.
Behavior problems.
Self cutting.

The good news is that self-esteem is an inner attitude, over which you have total control! You can control your self-esteem, which in turn will determine how you feel about yourself and how you act toward others.

Five easy steps to boosting your own self esteem.

Peer Pressure1. Use affirmations to boost your self esteem. Instead of the first statement, switch to the second:

I'm not good enough - I like myself just the way I am.
I'm a nobody - I'm a somebody.
I hate myself - I love myself.
I'm ugly - I'm beautiful.
Nobody believes in me - I believe in myself.

2. Associate with positive supportive people.

When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you down, your self-esteem is lowered. Get away from people like that. Instead associate with people who will accept and encourage you. As Oprah Winfrey once said, "Surround yourself with people who lift you higher!"

3. Make a list of your past successes.

We all have successes, and we all have different things that we're good at. Think about your own list. Write them down and remember that you might not be good at sports, but you're good at art, or whatever. Seize your own talents and shine with them.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

We all make mistakes, and we can turn every one of them into a learning experience. The important thing is to acknowledge that you have made a mistake, correct it, and learn from it. You can never be hurt by a mistake if you do these things.

5. Above all, be proactive.

What does that mean? First look at the word "responsibility." Broken down it comes out "response ability" - the ability to choose your own response. We can't always help what happens to us - but we have total control over how we respond to that happening, and that's the key. For example, if someone hurts your feelings, you can:

Let that person have the power to make you feel bad.
Choose to feel angry and lash out at them.
Decide to be mad and never speak to them again.
Walk away feeling devastated.
Lash out at someone else because you're angry.
OR - Know you're better than that and their words can't change what you know about yourself.

You can choose any one of these responses or a dozen others, but you need to recognize which one is best for you.

Read the story of Viktor Frankl, author and holocaust survivor:

Victor FranklViktor Frankl was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, where he experienced the worst of all torture, suffering, and human indignities. His parents, his brother, and his wife all died in the camps or were sent to the gas chambers. One day, naked and alone, he began to become aware of what he later called "the last of human freedoms." It was a freedom that neither his captors, nor anyone else, could ever take away. They could do what they wanted with his body, but he himself had total control over how he would allow it to affect him.

He would teach himself about "response - ability" - thinking about all of the choices he had in how he responded to those indignities. Of course he could not stop the hurt to his body, but he made the choice to not allow his own character, his basic identity, to be hurt at all.

Instead, he recognized that it is the most difficult things in life that develop strong character. We always learn far more from the difficult experiences in life than we ever do when life is easy.

Frankl began to build on this thought until it grew larger and larger. He ultimately realized that he had more freedom than even his captors. They had more liberty, but he understood his own personal ability of controlling his responses. Frankl soon became an inspiration to those around him, including some of the guards. He helped them all to find freedom and dignity, even in their horrible prison existence.

Peer Pressure

Teen Peer PressureWhat is it, and how do I handle it?

Peer = someone in your age group
Pressure = A feeling that you are being pushed toward making a certain decision - good or bad.

Peer pressure can be both good and bad, and you need to be able to tell the difference. Don't let it put you down and get you depressed. Everyone wants to have friends and fit in, but friends should make you happy - not sad, afraid, or worried. With teens it can influence you in many different ways:

How you dress.
Who your friends are.
Your grades in school.
Whether you have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Whether you use drugs or alcohol.

When we think of bad peer pressure, it's usually connected to pressure to: smoke, drink alcohol, do drugs, have sex, do something illegal, or do something violent.

Always listen to your gut feelings. If your conscience is telling you that something is not good for you, don't do it! Unfortunately, sometimes people in groups act differently and do things they'd never do on their own. Why? Because we all lose at least some of our identity in a group. And normal controls we put on our behavior can crumble because of the need we feel to fit in and be respected by others. However, a good rule to follow is: If it is something you wouldn't do by yourself, don't do it with a group either!

Why is peer pressure so powerful? Because there is both spoken and unspoken peer pressure. Spoken peer pressure comes in three forms:

1. Reasoning - It'll be fun. It won't hurt you. Your parents will never find out. Everyon's doing it.
2. Put Downs - You're never any fun. You're such a baby. You're such a wimp.
3. Rejection - Who needs you as a friend anyway. If you don't, we won't hang out any more. Why don't you leave then.

Teens Facing Peer PressureAll of these have been convincing arguments because we:
Don't want to hurt someone's feelings.
Don't know how to get out of the situation.
Don't want to be made fun of.
Are afraid of being rejected by others.
Want to be liked.
Don't want to lose a friend.

Unspoken peer pressure is much more subtle. It's what you feel inside without anyone saying anything to you. You feel this when you want to be part of the crowd and do what others are doing. Or you may want to take a risk and do something exciting. Or you may experience:

The Huddle - A group of kids is standing together. Everyone is talking and maybe looking at something you can't see, laughing and joking.

The Look - Kids who think they're cool give you a certain look that says, "We're cool and you're not."

The Example - A group of kids is walking off to do "whatever," laughing, talking, and slapping each other on the back.

So what do you do now? You still know that what they are suggesting is wrong and you're really not comfortable doing it. You're under a lot of spoken pressure. What do you do?

Do - Say No. Walk away from the situation. Stick up for yourself.
Don't - Be afraid to say No. Go along hoping for the best. Make excuses.

And one of the best ways ever devised for saying No is to just say, "I'm fine."

A survey of over 600 teens revealed that:

44% often feel pressured to lie, steal, or cheat
25% often feel pressured to use drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes
23% often feel pressured to have sex

Peer PressureSo when you feel pressured, you're not alone. The important thing is how you respond to that pressure. Only you are responsible for your own actions - not your friends. So make sure it's what you want and that you're willing to accept all of the consequences connected to your actions, because it's you who will pay the price for bad choices.

Peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol

Remember, drugs are drugs. Period. Alcohol is alcohol. They're not good or bad. They're chemicals. It's their misuse that can be bad. Drugs are like dynamite. They're not good or bad either. Use a couple of sticks of dynamite to clear away a boulder that's blocking a road to a hospital, and it's good. Use it to blow up the hospital, and it's bad.

Drugs are like that. Some have real value, but any chemical that can change the way you think and feel can be dangerous. That's especially true because the effects of drugs and alcohol are internal and can cause real changes in your body and brain. It isn't just hangovers, or failing in school, or getting arrested either. There are other very serious long-term consequences - like the changes in your brain chemistry that can follow drug and alcohol use.

Did you know that between the ages of ten and twenty your brain is still developing? That's right. This is the time period when your behavior patterns are developing and being wired. The decisions and behavior you establish (good or bad) will also be with you in adulthood. Make good decisions as a teenager, and you'll continue to make good decisions as an adult; and visa versa. As the researchers say, "So don't blow it now because you're going to need that brain for the rest of your life."