self-esteem

1-Minute Read: A path to healthy self-esteem and happiness

1-Minute Read- Want a better path to healthy self-esteem and happinessWant to know a better path to healthy self-esteem and happiness? Try some self-compassion. In other words, cut yourself some slack!

In my work with girls and women, I have found self-compassion to be an area where women are lacking. We women can be so hard on ourselves; this isn’t good for our health (emotional or physical).

So why are you so hard on yourself? Is it actually helping you feel better or to be a better person (mom, daughter, wife, sister)?  My guess is that it is not.  No need to keep doing something that is not working, right?

I remember when I was younger and my mom noticed that I was being very hard on myself. She suggested I view and talk to myself as if I were talking to a child in a compassionate manner. I did this and it worked! As a matter of fact, it has been something I have kept up for most of my life.

The world would be a kinder place if we could all embrace a little more compassion for ourselves and others. Remember, it’s a journey!

I’m here to help.


 

Michelle Kelley 10.14 c

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

1-Minute Read: Did you make your bed today?

Did you make your bed3Making your bed may seem like a small thing to you, but never underestimate the power of focusing on your small accomplishments. I do make my bed most days. I pay attention to how I feel after my bed is made. I take pride in a pretty bed. I take pride in my home and my office looking nice. Do you?

When we were children it was our small successes that were celebrated: our first step, putting our toys away, sleeping in our own beds. There is great value in going back to this way of thinking. I believe we would all be a lot happier if we could genuinely feel proud of our efforts and the small tasks in our life.

Here is the point: We cannot always accomplish big things (at first) and even focusing on the larger accomplishments can be overwhelming or paralyzing.

  • So instead of looking ahead at how much more you need to do, how about looking at your accomplishments and celebrating the MOMENT? In the spirit of mindfulness (click here to read my latest magazine article), try bringing your focus on TODAY, THIS MOMENT. What are you proud of? What can you celebrate? Maybe it’s just getting out of bed or maybe you had the courage to leave a toxic relationship.
  • Then take notice of how you feel when you accomplish something small such as making your bed, doing the dishes, washing your car (meaning driving through a car wash for me), helping your child with their homework or cleaning the dreaded toilet.

I find that women in particular find it difficult to celebrate the “little stuff”, to pat ourselves on the back, to say “Yay me”. Our culture does not support this way of thinking but I do.

If you would like some help in learning how to retrain your brain to celebrate your successes and experience a wonderful new outlook on life, please contact me at michelle@girlsstandstrong.com or 703-505-2413. I would love to hear from you.

Here’s to making your bed today (or tomorrow). Try it and see how you feel.

 


Michelle Kelley 10.14 c
Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Top 10 Ways to Preserve Girls’ Self-Esteem, Part 2

Smiling Mother and Daughter with Lipstick, Looking at MirrorIn my last article, I shared with you the first five of my top ten list of ways in which parents can help to preserve their daughter’s self-esteem during the often emotionally-turbulent years of middle school and high school.

Before we dive into the remainder of this list, remember that girls tend to experience a drop in self-esteem as they reach puberty. The problem is that many girls stop sharing with their parents at this same time when they really need them most. Negative messages from others and the media can leave a girl with fractured self-esteem and an abundance of self-doubt.

As parents, you should make sure your home is a safe place for your daughter to ask questions and discus her feelings.

This list will help you do that.

  1. Teach her it’s okay to say NO.  No is a complete sentence.  Many girls feel as if they are being mean or rude if they say No to a friend.  You can see how this can create problems for them in their social and dating world.  A girl who is not comfortable saying No is lacking the ability to hold boundaries with herself and others.  There is an epidemic of girls who have the people-pleaser personality type.  I did.  Standing up for herself and learning when it’s okay to say No is a skill you can teach and role model.  Have her practice.  We all want our daughters to be able to say No to a boy who is not respecting her boundaries.  You might be surprised how many strong, outspoken girls struggle in this area.
  2. Challenge the ideal beauty standard.  Girls are bombarded with images of the ideal beauty standard.  Today it is being thin, having straight hair (straightened with a flat iron), dark eye liner and a flawless complexion.  The media today often projects an unrealistic and often dangerous standard of beauty.  I hear many girls talk about their dissatisfaction with their physical appearance and their weight.  Talk to your daughter about her standard of beauty.  We need to widen our definition of beauty so every girl can fit into it.
  3. The real scoop on popularity.  I have yet to meet a teen who really understands popularity — or anyone else for that matter.  Popularity is difficult to define.  It’s elusive.  It may always seem just out of reach.  It’s something most girls want at some point and it can cause a lot of emotional pain.  Most adults know the reality is that after you graduate, popularity means nothing.  Encourage your daughter to explore her thoughts on popularity and challenge some of her negative thinking, such as “I could never be popular.”  What if she were popular in a different sort of way?  Again, this is not a black and white issue.  In the grey is where she will find the answers she is seeking.  You can help her.
  4. Dealing with mean girls and mean comments.  The truth is that all girls have experienced life on both sides.  We have all been a bit mean to others, and also have been on the receiving end of it.  An open discussion is what I recommend here.  One of the best pieces of advice is to always validate your daughter’s feelings.  Her feelings are real to her and they can be scary.  If she feels she is being picked on, then that is where you start the conversation.  If she is experiencing emotional pain from being picked on or bullied, seek counseling to help her learn ways to stand up for herself and overcome the self-doubt she is most likely experiencing.
  5. Stay connected — no matter what.  Let’s face it, in today’s world with teens being so connected to technology, it can be challenging to keep our own connection to them.  However, most teens really do want to have some quality time with parents and family members.  Be creative.  Listen to your daughter; don’t just talk at her.  Spend time with her doing something she enjoys.  Research shows that when parents offer an open, supportive environment at home, teenage girls are more likely to reach out in times of trouble.

A daughter is a wonderful gift. Think back to when she was a little girl coming to you about everything.  Well, she still is vulnerable and scared at times on the inside.  Remember this is a difficult time for her and her hormones are causing her to feel even more emotional.  So be patient, take a break, and get support.  The end result will be worth it.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking one-on-one with a counselor as she enters these uncertain teenage years — or if you would like to learn how to guide her —  please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Top 10 Ways to Preserve Girls’ Self-Esteem, Part 1

Mother and daughter doing arts and crafts together at home in living roomResearch shows that girls experience a significant drop in self-esteem around puberty — often during the middle school years.  They internalize negative messages they hear from others and the media.  Messages about the ideal body type or ideal beauty can leave a girl with fractured self-esteem and an abundance of self-doubt. The damaging effects of chronic low self-esteem can surface at any time in her life, wreaking havoc with her relationships and happiness.

It’s never too early to start helping your daughter create counter-balance in her world.  This is your job as parents.  Your home should be a safe place for her to question and explore her feelings, right?  The problem is that many girls stop sharing with their parents around puberty and they engage more with friends — through social media or texting.  Oftentimes parents find themselves on the outside looking in and feeling helpless.

Here is my top ten list of ways in which parents can help to preserve their daughter’s self-esteem during the often emotionally-turbulent years of middle school and high school.

  1. Praise her efforts and accomplishments.  Everyone has a unique talent, if not many.  Many of us, me included, did not discover this until well into adulthood. Help your daughter discover her talents be they academic, sports, art, music, communication skills, or whatever it may be.  We live in a time where being athletic can be seen as the end-all, be-all — leading to a first class seat in the popular group.  If your daughter is not athletic, help her find a place/group where she feels accepted.  We all need to be a part of something.  Early on you can guide her in a positive direction.
  2. Talk about self-image.  The media and fashion industry thrive on female insecurity.  Body shame and eating disorders are at an all-time high.  Help your daughter recognize and also reject harmful messages about her body.  Encourage her to define beauty for herself.  Talk about the temptation to compare and the desire to be popular.  Help her realize her value is not in her looks.  I believe that there is great value in each person.  How do you define value?
  3. Discuss social media traps.  Teach your child to use social media with care. Remind her that people often brag on social media and they tend to put their lives in the best light.  What they are seeing may not reflect reality. Having too many friends (such as on Facebook) can easily lead to social comparison.  Great questions to ask her:  What do you notice about other people’s status updates?  How much time do you think you spend on social media and is it balanced with your other activities?  How do you want to show up on social media?  One of my teen clients recently shared with me that social media causes her so much anxiety, but she can’t stop.  In other words, she doesn’t want to miss out.  FOMO is the fear of missing out and it is a real issue for teens.  Be especially aware of Ask.fm or Instagram’s “rate me” posts.  This can be the perfect platform for bullying and dangerous rumors.  Yet at the same time they can be so tempting to girls.
  4. Give her permission to be herself.  A girl needs to feel unconditionally loved and that she is “good enough” as is. I am talking about her physical appearance as well as her emotional world.  I realize there may be concerns that you may need to deal with such as a difficult personality or possibly getting braces to help her feel good about her smile.  All of us will strive for improvement if we genuinely feel accepted the way we are.  If your daughter is having difficulty fitting in with her peers, you may want to seek counseling for further insight and advice.
  5. Nurture positive friendships.  Your daughter will experience a variety of friendships throughout her school years.  Think back to the friendships you had when you were a teen.  Some were likely positive and healthy while others were negative and hurtful.  Some lasted and some did not.  Help your daughter understand the sometimes changing-nature of friendships and to resist the urge to hold on too tightly.  Discuss what constitutes a good friend and healthy relationships.  Help her distinguish between being treated rudely and misinterpreting a situation.  Friendships that cause her pain are not necessarily negative.  Many girls tend to see relationships in black and white.  Either they are good or bad.  The reality is that there are many possible categories for friendships.  Ask her to come up with some of her own categories.  You can also ask her to reflect on what type of friend she is to others.  I often see parents who struggle in this area.

That concludes the first half of my list.  I’ll share the rest with you in my next newsletter, so be sure to watch for it in two weeks. In the meantime, I encourage you to work on the topics listed above.

If you feel that your daughter will benefit from speaking one-on-one with a counselor as she enters these uncertain teenage years — or if you would like to learn how to guide her —  please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413 to arrange an appointment.

 


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

Self-Esteem Influences All Areas of Your Life

portrait of buoyant girlI find it interesting — yet sad — that many women and girls I work with in my counseling sessions have an expectation that their self-esteem should be higher; and if it is not, then they feel shame (a silent emotional killer for women and girls).  In our culture we have created an unrealistic standard for women – that we should be super woman and overly confident, and to admit ‘less than’ is often seen as failure.

Failure?  Failure is such a harsh word and yet it is one that women and girls often embrace too quickly.  Allowing negative, false labels to stick to you is one way to send your self-esteem spiraling downward.

Low self-esteem could mean that you have experienced (perceived or real) an emotionally traumatic situation, relationship or childhood.  There are many possible causes of low self-esteem.  You are a member of the human race, after all, and on your own path.  

It’s time to spread the message that it’s okay to embrace and admit that your self-esteem is not where you would like it to be.

Thankfully it is now widely accepted that having good physical health is important and should be actively pursued.  Yet why don’t we have the same expectation for emotional health?

For example, why is the negative stigma about counseling still hanging around?  You know the one I’m talking about “If you go to counseling then there must be something wrong with you”.  Even if you don’t feel this way, chances are that someone you are close to does.

Counseling is an opportunity to pursue a greater understanding of your emotional self and your relationships.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Of course it is!

So how do you create healthy self-esteem?  I can tell you what doesn’t work — ignoring or denying the issue.  Denial never solves anything! It’s best to dive in.  Do some research.  Go see a counselor.  Talk to your trusted friends.   Just don’t keep it a secret to fester and magnify.

See, self-esteem influences all areas of your life.  For women this means your marriage, your family and your work.  For girls this means your choices in friends, activities and academic performance.

Healthy self-esteem is an essential component of emotional well-being. 
Emotional well-being is what we should all strive for.

Our lives are more likely to flourish if we have a healthy emotional life… and self-esteem is an indicator of our emotional health.  

Sharing your healthy self-esteem with others is a wonderful gift to give them and the world.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

So how’s your self-esteem?

Woman studying reflectionSo how is your self-esteem?

Answering this question feels almost too personal – as if you were being asked your age or weight or about the most embarrassing moment in your life.  Right now your self-esteem could be high, low, fragile or something in between and it might not be something you want to say out loud.

I define self-esteem as the way you feel about yourself combined with your capability to think clearly, make good decisions and create a rewarding life. 

No one has 100% self-esteem all of the time.  Self-esteem is not ‘all or nothing’.  The truth is that it exists on a continuum and it can (and often does) change throughout your life.  However, it should be something that you are aware of, connected to and actively track so you can make adjustments as needed.

Self-esteem is often misunderstood.  Many mistake arrogance and over-confidence for self-esteem.  In reality, an attitude of superiority and exaggerated self-esteem are actually masking low self-esteem.  Healthy, authentic self-esteem is never ego based.  A person with healthy self-esteem never feels the need to brag or make themselves look better than someone else.  Healthy self-esteem (which is what we all should be striving for) is empowering and it is within your reach. 

In order to gain some insight about your self-esteem, listen closely to your self-talk — your internal dialogue.  Is it negative or positive?

  • I’m so tired today; I don’t feel like doing anything. OR Gosh, I’m tired but I know that once I get moving I will feel better.
  • I don’t like going into a room full of people and having to speak to total strangers. OR  I’m uncomfortable entering a room of people I don’t know yet, but I know I will meet two or three people and end up really enjoying myself; I always do!
  • My cup of tea has too much; I hope I don’t spill it! OR  My cup of tea is filled to the rim so I will be careful with it.

If your thoughts tend to be negative, then this is definitely affecting your self-esteem in a harmful way.  And yes, it is possible to change your thinking.  It requires awareness, persistence and a desire to change.

I teach women and girls how to create healthy self-esteem in their lives and how to foster it in their children.  It’s not something you are born with.  It is something you create.

If you would like more information on how to create healthy self-esteem or if you would like to work with me as your personal coach, please contact me via email or phone 703.505.2413. I am here to help!


Michelle Kelley

Michelle Kelley Licensed Counselor, Owner, Girls Stand Strong

Licensed counselor and founder of Girls Stand Strong Michelle Kelley, LCSW, helps girls and women of all ages develop and improve their self-image, self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, emotional understanding, coping skills, the ability to handle difficult situations and people, and resiliency to create a brighter, better and more successful tomorrow. For more information about Michelle’s coaching and counseling services, call (703) 505-2413 or email michelle@girlsstandstrong.com.

Read What People Are Saying About Michelle Kelley.

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