You keep me believing: on self-worth and belief


An important aspect of belief in oneself and one’s abilities to succeed in life, is the external affirmation of worth from family, friends, a higher power or other significant people in our lives. Unfortunately for some of our most troubled teens, their lives and the people in them do not provide them with this affirmation. Consequently their thinking about themselves is devoid of a sense of worth, of value, of self-belief.

Instead of fostering positivity, family members whether present or not, can instill a sense of unworthiness, of uselessness, of being unwanted. ‘Friends’ can cause confusion about self-worth by causing them to link worthiness with a ‘what I can do for them’ user mentality, where it’s about peer pressure for personal ends and not for mutual benefits. When the chips are down, nobody’s got their back and deep down they know it.

Moreover, when the inevitable insecurity that results from this manifests itself as poor behaviour they experience a further reinforcement of their lack of worth, when professionals at school, or social workers or youth workers etc, ask the question of them, ‘why do you have to behave like this?’, ‘what’s wrong with you?’, or state ‘you’re not going to get anywhere like this’, ‘this path leads to prison’. While they may well be well-meaning warnings or genuine enquiries, the poor manner of expression only serves to confirm in young people’s minds the reason they are like this is because they are at core, ‘bad’ and ‘worthless’.

It might not have always been this way. Significant others’ life circumstances and challenges may have affected the way they interact with them. A formerly warm mother may become cold as she struggles with her own issues. Some traumatic event may have severely knocked a teen’s confidence and self-belief when before they had plenty. They can become shells of their former confident selves for a whole host of reasons.


Encouraging self-belief and hope

Our job, while it may be to re-educate, to offer perspective, to change behaviour, to prompt a rethink in the minds of young people, or to provide advice or support, can’t successfully be any of these things unless the underlying message or mission is to build them up. To help them believe that they are capable of thinking differently, of doing life differently, that no matter how hard their life circumstances may have been or still be, that they can overcome.

Life doesn’t have to be just about what life has dished out to them. If they can just have faith in themselves, believe in themselves, in their potential, in their abilities, known or still to be discovered then their future can be more than their past. By helping them change their view of themselves and their potential, they can change their view of their circumstances and their ability to mould and change their lives for the better. From this point comes positive action and healing.

The song in the following video has the lyrics, ‘When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling, On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning, You keep me believing.”

Are we successfully doing this for our young people? Are we at least trying to keep them believing in themselves, or helping them to begin to have this belief, where it has never been?

This is what they need from us, often above all else. Once we crack this, everything else follows so much easier. We just need to have the message of this song in mind in everything we do.

While it won’t have the romantic element, the message of love, of care and support and the belief that they can get through to the other side if they can only believe in themselves and their ability to overcome the way we see it, is one that our troubled teens need to hear. Often they won’t hear it unless we are the ones that ‘sing’ it and our daily challenge is to ensure that this melody is always playing in the background.

I don’t remember how I got here
When my rose colored glasses disappeared
Sometimes my fingers, they can lose touch
And start letting go of everything I love

When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

My fears are safe here
Held in your hands
When I’m broken, you put me back together again

All that I once was
All I could be
When I’ve forgotten,
Baby you remind me

When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling,
On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

To read more on how to build up young peoples’ self belief, read, ‘How to Build Self-Esteem, Self-Worth and Self-Belief’.

Anger management not working?

1 comments On You keep me believing: on self-worth and belief

  • UltimateYouthWorker

    Great post as usual Sam. Encouragement is one of the most important roles a youth worker has. In a world set to tear people down a few words of love, kindness and encouragement often make all the difference.

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