In high school I remember this message very clearly: High self-esteem is everything. In high school, some of us rolled our eyes at the cheesy posters and videos preaching the importance of this message. Fast forward to our adult years and we find that all of that cheesiness is true. Self-esteem is connected to feeling like you matter. People with high self-esteem feel like they matter because they feel like they are a person of worth and value. People with low self-esteem may not feel like they matter because they don’t feel like they are a person of worth and value.
One of the many contributing factors to your self-esteem is social comparison (McCornack, 2016). Comparing ourselves to others impacts how we see ourselves. It’s our measuring stick. We use it to see how we size up against others. Social media has introduced society to the ultimate measuring stick. Every day we are inundated with posts and images of others we think are better than us, or are living the lives we want to live. Students see images of their friends graduating from universities, while they are here at the community college. Faculty see posts from colleagues who are getting published, being awarded grants, and obtaining Ph.D.’s. Staff see individuals getting promoted to higher positions in education and think to themselves, why not me? We feel like if we are not famous, or doing anything significant that is on the level of Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey, that we are not important, that we do not matter, and that we don’t have value or worth.
There are two things that can be done. Number 1: Stop comparing yourself. In the words of my colleague Michelle Jackson, “Stop comparing yourself to others! They are not you and you are not them. Be and do you. Enjoy it! Embrace it!” Number Two: Practice critical self-reflection to cultivate self-awareness (McCornack, 2016). Here are some critical reflection questions to start with:
1. What am I thinking and feeling about my worth and value?
2. Why am I thinking and feeling this way?
3. Are my thoughts and feelings accurate about my worth and value?
4. How can I improve my thoughts and feelings about my value and worth?
The questions were adapted from a textbook from my course (McCornack, 2016)
Give it a try and see if it makes a difference. It has for me. =>)
McCornack, S. (2016). Reflect and relate: an introduction to interpersonal communication (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martin’s.
(*Note: I know my hanging indent is missing for my APA citation. =>) The struggle was real with the formatting. =>( )