Self Awareness and Self Esteem

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The skills of knowing and living with oneself include the folowing:

  • Self awareness
  • Self esteem
  • coping with emotions, and
  • coping with stress

In this section we shall discuss the first two. i.e. Self awareness and Self esteem.Welcome.


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When I say, Self Awareness, or when you hear the word, ‘self awareness,

What comes to your mind? Ask the learners to give their responses in groups

Your responses might include:

  • Who am I?
  • Name
  • Gender
  • Social status
  • Gender roles
  • Occupation
  • Where am I coming from? ie Background,Values,Experience,Ethnic group
  • Where am I going? ie. Goals,Values,Aspirations,Vision

As you will be training others, it must start with you, and with me You must

  • Breathe it
  • Talk it
  • Live it

You are the only person they will be looking at to see that you do what you say and mean what you say

You are going to live a life that will be extemporary to others It is going to mean, You know and have the skill. Ask yourself; ‘How do I develop that skill in me? "How do I teach that skill to someone else?"

You will need to be in a position to constantly ask yourself, "will they understand me?" What can I do to impart this skill to those that I will train? And those that I live with.

Self awareness can not be acquired. It is practiced. It will mean you as the trainer will use learning experiences to enhance the skill Make the training learner centered to acquire and develop the skills Create a warm and safe climate that is conducive for learning and developing the required.

We need to make the training interesting for the learners to grasp the skills

In other words, WALK THE TALK


When selecting teaching and learning materials,you will be guided by:

1. The Learner's

  • Age
  • Background
  • Needs; rapid growth
  • Need to understand themselves and relationships with the opposite sex.

As you plan, experiences and activities will be based on the above


Experiences and activities to be directed to attain life skills education


These three will help us in selecting appropriate methods for teaching and developing the skills

We need to be

  • Role models
  • Give proper guidance
  • Be able to answer questions
  • And to talk about myths and reality

We give positive encouragement to take positive decision The need to prepare them into parenthood that is positive

As trainers, we need to connect with participants and make them feel they belong and they matter You will be expected to be

  • Facilitator
  • Educator
  • Teacher
  • We must demonstrate empathy
  • Have the ability to reach out to others especially youth
  • Patience
  • Good listener
  • Good communicator
  • Team player


The ability to know your potential, limitations, feelings as well as your position in society

Self-awareness includes

  • recognition of our personality,
  • our strengths and weaknesses,
  • our likes and dislikes.

Developing self-awareness can help us to recognise when we are stressed or under pressure. It is also often a prerequisite for effective communication and interpersonal relations, as well as for developing empathy for others. This is important in helping one to discover and accept self, plan for the future and even accept others.

  • Self awareness is the basis of all life skills.
  • It helps in the appreciation of and application of all other life skills.

Benefits of Self-awareness

  • The better you understand yourself, the better you are able to accept or change who you are.
  • Being in the dark about yourself means that you will continue to get caught up in your own internal struggles and allow outside forces to mould and shape you.
  • How we see ourselves may be clouded by the feedback messages we received about ourselves from others.
  • But how could anyone know more about you than you?
  • They do not feel your emotions or think your thoughts; they do not face the issues that you wrestled with.

Therefore, do not let others look down on you Hold your head high

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The Wonderful Layers in Me

  • Draw a picture of yourself in the center of your paper
  • To the Left of your drawing, list physical qualities{what people can see}
  • To the Right of the drawing, list your inner qualities{what people cannot see}

When finished, note down where you think these qualities have come from, e.g. dark skin [from mother}, patience {from mother} In groups, share your answers


  1. How did the activity go?
  2. What makes us similar to others?
  3. What makes us different from others?
  4. How do you feel about yourselves?
  5. How do you feel about others?

Self-awareness Questions

  1. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  2. How do your friends describe you? Do you agree with their descriptions? Why or why not?
  3. List two situations when you are most at ease. What specific elements were present when you felt that way?
  4. What types of activities did you enjoy doing when you were a child? What about now?
  5. What motivates you? Why?
  6. What are your dreams for the future? What steps are you taking to achieve your dreams?
  7. What do you fear most in your life? Why?
  8. What stresses you? What is your typical response to stress?
  9. What qualities do you like to see in people? Why? Do you have many friends as you just described? Why or why not?
  10. When you disagree with someone's viewpoint, what would you do?

This involves knowing and understanding oneself in terms of abilities, feelings, emotions, habits or tendencies, position in life and society, strengths and weaknesses. The following questions are helpful in understanding oneself:

  • who am I?
  • how do I relate with myself?
  • where am I coming from?
  • where am I now?
  • where am I going?
  • how can I get there?

These questions help the learners to evaluate themselves in terms of:

  • physical attributes
  • intellect
  • personal beliefs values, goals and ambitions
  • strengths and weaknesses

Knowledge of oneself promotes self-acceptance and care, enabling individuals to respond appropriately to various situations such as avoiding drug and substance abuse. The teacher need to appreciate that self awareness is the basis of all life skills as the acquisition and development of other skills depends on how well an individual knows herself or himself. Learners should be encouraged to honesty evaluate themselves against given situation honestly in order to enhance self awareness

Importance of self awareness

  • Enhances interpersonal relationships
  • Promotes self acceptance and care
  • Enhances achievement of personal goals
  • Promotes high self esteem


This is the pride opinion and values one puts on him/herself. It is influenced by physical appearance, performance of various tasks, parents, religion, leaders, peers and siblings.

You can’t touch it, but it affects how you feel

You can’t see it, but it’s there when you look at yourself in the mirror You can’t hear it, but it’s there every time you talk about yourself.

Q. What is this important but mysterious thing?
A. It’s your self-esteem!


  • Value
  • worth,
  • confidence
  • respect
  • honour
  • hold one in high regard

So self-esteem is your awareness of all these about yourself

  • how one feels about themselves and their personal attributes, both physically and psychological
  • it is influenced by your relationship with other people, family members, peers culture loss and grief, illnesses
  • transition times can lower or enhance your self-esteem
  • High self-esteem enhances self confidence that enables a person to interact, participate and relate positively with others.
  • Low self-esteem may lead so self-destruction.
  • You will be expected to help learners to build their self esteem using various learning and teaching methods
  • The way we view and feel about ourselves has a profound effect on how we live our lives.
  • These opinions are shaped by experiences in the family, at school, from friendships and in wider society.
  • Self-esteem involves our ability to think, to deal with life and to be happy.
  • There is a constant bombardment of messages telling us we should be:
    • young
    • slim
    • beautiful
    • fashionably dressed
    • have a boyfriend / girlfriend and
    • money to spend.

We must be very careful as we listen to all these. Rejection or loss at any age is likely to undermine self-esteem.

Characteristics of high and low self esteem

High self esteem

  • Cheerfulness
  • Positive self image
  • Self care
  • Self confidence
  • Self trust
  • Self discipline
  • Good performance of tasks
  • Relating well with others
  • Outgoing and assertive

Low self esteem

  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Self doubt
  • Self neglect
  • under performance
  • Vulnerability to peer pressure
  • Aggressiveness
  • Dependency
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Negative self image
  • Defensive behaviour
  • Passiveness
  • Violent behaviour

Building self esteem

Self- esteem quiz

Strongly Agree = 5 Agree = 4 Undecided = 3 Disagree = 2 Strongly Disagree = 1

1. I like the way I look 2. I always think before I act. 3. I can resist peer pressure most of the time 4. I am self-confident 5. I never pretend to be what I am not to please other people 6. I try to do what is right 7. I can make my mind up and stick to it 8. I don’t give in very easily 9. I can stand up for what I think is right 10. I am proud of the way my body looks 11. I like myself 12. I find it easy to get along with people 13. I have no difficulty making friends with people of the opposite sex 14. I have no trouble controlling my feelings.


Over 50
You have a really good image of yourself. This attitude should make you a

very self-confident person who is not easily misled by others.

Over 40
You are probably like most young people. You have a positive self-image but

sometimes you have doubts about the kind of person you are. Sometimes you do not like yourself very much

Over 30
You may need to develop your attitude in some areas. Learn to think

positively about yourself. Feel proud about the good things about yourself and try to improve on those things that you don’t like but think you can change.

Under 30
You have a negative self-image. You must try to like the person you are and

to resist being misled by others to avoid ending up in trouble. If you do not have a positive self-image, other people may not like you either. Try to look at the good qualities about yourself and appreciate the “you”

Steps in building high self esteem

  • Self identify (adequate information on self awareness
  • Analyse feelings, on his/her appearance, abilities, beliefs, value systems
  • Assess self worth
  • Self acceptance
  • Defining one’s priorities and aspects to work on to enhance self esteem
  • Identify a social support system

ACTIVITY Name some events in the school, at home or the community that could have long effects on you?

  • a boy or girlfriend being unfaithful,
  • being ostracised (avoided intentionally) by friends or picked on by peers
  • having an accident, a burglary, or
  • Coping with a death, are likely to provoke feelings of loss and threat.

For some this is temporary, while for others the effects are long-lasting. SOME BASIC ELEMENTS OF SELF-ESTEEM


  • Starts early in life and is based on how we are received into the world.
  • We learn to trust ourselves and begin to have a realistic trust of others.
  • We begin to develop confidence in the self’s ability to choose others who are safe – who will not injure or exploit.


  • Comes from mastery.
  • We work through necessary dependencies, to a growing independence.
  • We find interdependence when we can separate ourselves from others and yet retain vital connections to others.


  • Grows.
  • We begin to know who we are and who we are becoming.
  • In each stage of life, self-esteem undergoes change and growth.
  • We feel more solid as our identity grows.


  • Develops from real identity and the need for connection.
  • It is the ability to relate closely and to know the limits of closeness.
  • We yearn to lose ourselves in love yet we need to retain our own separate essence.

Causes of low self-esteem

ACTIVITY Let participants brainstorm the causes

At Home {Where parents}

  • criticize, shame, reject, scold repeatedly,
  • set unrealistic goals and standards,
  • express the expectation that the child will fail,
  • punish repeatedly and harshly,
  • imply that a child is stupid, a nuisance or incompetent,
  • avoid cuddling, hugging or affectionate touching,
  • overprotect or dominate a child so they later fail when forced to be on their own



Participants to discuss how self esteem can be enhanced or increased {Use Ginger’s experience}

Tips for Improving Your Body Image

  • Some people think they need to change how they look or act to feel good about themselves.
  • All you need to do is change the way you see your body and how you think about yourself.
  • The first thing to do is recognize that your body is your own, no matter what
  • shape,
  • size, or
  • colour it comes in.
  • If you are very worried about your weight or size, check with your doctor to verify that things are OK.
  • But it is no one's business but your own what your body is like — ultimately, you have to be happy with yourself.
  • Next, identify which aspects of your appearance you can realistically change and which you can’t.
  • Everyone (even the most perfect-seeming celebrity) has things about themselves that they can't change and need to accept — like their height, for example, or their shoe size.
  • If there are things about yourself that you want to change and can (such as how fit you are), do this by making goals for yourself.
  • For example, if you want to get fit, make a plan to exercise every day and eat nutritious foods.
  • Then keep track of your progress until you reach your goal.
  • Meeting a challenge you set for yourself is a great way to boost self-esteem!
  • When you hear negative comments coming from within yourself, tell yourself to STOP.
  • Try building your self-esteem by giving yourself three compliments every day.
  • While you're at it, every evening list three things in your day that really gave you pleasure.
  • It can be anything from the way the sun felt on your face, the sound of your favourite radio station, or the way someone laughed at your jokes.
  • By focusing on the good things you do and the positive aspects of your life, you can change how you feel about yourself.

ACTIVITY Have you asked yourself these vital questions about your self concept?

  • Are you happy with your appearance?
  • Have you got an attractive personality?
  • Are you likeable?
  • Are you sociable or shy?
  • Are you honest?
  • Are you a good person?
  • Can you communicate well? Are you positive?
  • Are you fun to be with?
  • Are you decisive?
  • Do others respond to you positively?
  • Are you confident?
  • Do you live according to your beliefs and values?

If you answer no to any of the above, ask yourself how you can change that no to a yes maybe first trying for sometimes. This will not only tell you what your present self concept is but how to improve it. Actions To Build Confidence

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Self Esteem Activities

  1. Ginger Girl
  2. Susie Story
  3. Josephine Doll


Give each girl (or team) a sheet with a picture of “Ginger” (For sample Click Here - print 2 to a page) As you read, you tell the girls to rip a piece of ginger off every time you think someone has hurt her feelings. Tues. Sept 3 Next week school starts. I can't wait. Since we moved into our new neighborhood, I haven't met any girls my age. Mommy says that I'll meet lots of new girls at school.

Mon. Sept 9 Today was my first day at my new school. I was scared. Nobody talked to me and I didn't know anybody. The teacher told us to tell about our summer vacations.

I didn't say anything and she got mad at me.   She said that everyone had to share.  I didn't want to tell them about the divorce. 
Mommy said I didn't have to tell anybody if I didn't want to.  If mommy and daddy were still married, we would still be living in Texas.  I wish I could go back to Texas.  I hate my new school. 

Wed. Sept. 11 I made a friend today. Her name is Marcie. She said I could sit next to her at lunch. Thurs. Sept 12 The bus driver yelled at me today. He said that he wouldn't wait for me and that I should be on time for the bus. He said,

"Doesn't your family teach you anything?" 
I also heard him say under his breath, "Those kids are all the same."  Who are those kids?  Did he mean me? 

Mon. Sept 23 I haven't written for a long time now. I made another friend. Her name is Lucille.

 But, Marcie got mad at me at break time and said that if I didn't play with just her she wasn't going to be my friend anymore.
She said she doesn't play with kids like Lucille. 

She said that I was dumb and probably didn't move from Nairobi but that I was lying.  She called me stupid.  I think she's dumb. I don't ever want to talk to her again. 

Wed Sept 25 I wanted to play football with the kids in the park yesterday. Mommy says that I should try to make new friends, but our house girl said that I couldn't play with the other kids.

She said that football was for boys and I was crazy if I wanted to play with them.
 She said that girls shouldn't play sports like football.  Then she took me to the playground equipment to play, but there were only babies there.  I want to tell mommy, but she likes our house girl so much.  She'll just get mad if I tell her. 

Mon Oct 7 Mommy said that we would go shopping for some new P.E shoes.

 The kids have been laughing at my old shoes.  Everyone else has brand new high tops.  I wish I had high tops, the kind with velcro.  Why are they laughing at my shoes?  I wish I didn't have to go to for P.E class. 

Tues Oct 15 Everyone is planning their outfits for the school play. I want to be a bag of jelly beans. I saw the costume once. You get inside a big clear garbage bag and then fill it with different color balloons. It's really neat. Wed Oct 16 I told Marcie about my idea for a costume.

She said that it fit me--a big fat bag of jelly beans.  She said that maybe I could just wear it all the time since it suited me so well. 
I told her that I wasn't fat and then she said that I should look in the mirror more often. 

Now, I don't know what to wear. Everyone will laugh at me if I go as a bag of jelly beans. Maybe I should just stay at home. Thurs Oct 17 I still don't have an idea for a costume but mommy says I shouldn't listen to those other girls. Mommy said she would help me make a good costume. Mon Oct 21 the school play is almost here. I think I finally got a good idea for a costume and mommy says that it would be easy to make and not cost a lot of money. I think I'm going to be a waitress. Like Brenda, the character I saw on that TV show that I like. Wed Oct 22 Marcie said that a waitress costume suited me fine. What did she mean? I don't think she was complimenting me, but I don't know. Because I told her about getting the idea from the TV show, she didn't say anything else. What did she mean? Should I ask mommy? I think mommy's getting tired of my problems. Mommy is always so tired. I wish mommy could be with me all the time. Fri Nov 1 We had our school party . It was fun, but everyone kept teasing me today about taking their orders. They said that I could be their slave. I wish they hadn't said that.

I got lots of candy last night.  Mommy said I have to keep it in the tin and only have one piece a day.  

Discussion Questions

  1. What things on the list can not be changed? These represent factors in ginger's life that may affect how she is as a person, but they are not directly within her control. (example. The divorce)
  2. What things on the list can be changed, influenced or modified? How could these things be changed? Who can help change them? What can you do to help?
  3. What skills can ginger develop so she is better able to deal with these challenges?
  4. What about Marcie? What might be causing her negative perspective? What is the personal cost to her of her attitudes and actions?
  5. How can the Life Skills Education experience contribute to improving Ginger's situation and outlook? Can it also help Marcie? What strategies would you use in each case?

By Martha A. Adler, adapted with permission from the Citizen's Alliance to Uphold Special Education in Lansing, Mich 1991


For dealing with cliques and the one girl that no one wants to spend time with. This exercise will "sensitize" them to the problem.

First, make a paper doll about 2 feet tall and color her.

Then, as you tell the story, wherever it says RIP, you will rip off a piece of the doll, starting with one elbow, then the next, then the knees, etc.

In the second half of the story you tape her back together again.

Let me introduce you to a girl named Susie. Susie is an ordinary girl, just like you.

There are things she likes and doesn't like, just like you. There are things that she is good at doing and things that she's not so good at.

She has friends and a family, just like you.

When people are nice to Susie, she's happy, and when they're not, it hurts her feelings.

There is one very special thing about Susie though - when you hurt her feelings, you can actually see that she's hurt.

Let's listen to a story about one day in Susie's life:

Our story starts on a school day, when Susie's mother wakes her up for school.

Well, Susie was kind of slow to get up that morning, and her mother said "Quit being lazy and get up. I wish you were more like your sister, she's never lazy in the morning." And that hurt Susie's feelings. RIP.

Well, Susie got up and got dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast. Her older sister was already eating breakfast, and she looked up when Susie came in.

She made a face and said "Are you really going to wear that shirt with those pants? You look dorky in that." And that hurt Susie's feelings. RIP.

After Susie ate her breakfast, she went outside to wait for the school bus. When it came, she got on and started to sit down next to her friend Jane. But Jane said, "You can't sit here. I'm saving this seat for Polly." And that hurt Susie's feelings. RIP.

At school that morning, Susie couldn't find her homework to turn in. She looked in her bookbag and her desk, but she couldn't find it.

Her teacher was standing by her desk, waiting for her to find it, and in front of the whole class, her teacher said, "You are so disorganized. I think you'd lose your head if it wasn't attached." RIP.

Finally, it was time for break. Susie loved break time. On the playground, some of her friends were organizing a game of kickball.

Susie wanted to play, but the captain of the first team said "I don't want you on my team. You run too slow." RIP.

The captain of the other team said, "I don't want her either. She can't even kick." RIP.

And another kid said, "Why don't you go play with somebody else?" RIP.

And the other kids laughed. RIP.

Well, Susie had had a rough day, so she just sat on the playground and cried.

After a minute, the other kids noticed how hurt she was, and they said, "Oh, no! Look what we've done!"

So they tried to make Susie feel better.

"It's OK, Susie, you can be on my team," said the captain of the first team. And that made Susie feel a little bit better. TAPE.

"You can be on my team if you want," said the captain of the second team. TAPE.

"We want you to play with us," said another kid. TAPE.

"I'm sorry I laughed at you," said another. TAPE.

Back in the classroom that afternoon, Susie's teacher complimented her on her artwork for a project the class was working on. "You're so creative," she said. TAPE.

On the bus that afternoon, Jane and Polly asked Susie to sit with them. So she sat with both of her friends, and they talked and laughed all the way home. TAPE.

Later that afternoon, Susie's sister asked if Susie wanted to go to shopping with her. Of course, she said yes, and they had a great time trying on clothes and giggling with each other. TAPE.

And that night, when Susie went to bed, her mother gave her a hug and a kiss and said, "I'm sorry I was grouchy with you this morning. I really do love you!" TAPE.

And so Susie went to bed.

My question for you is this:

Does Susie look the same as this morning?

These lines are scars, they will fade over time, just like physical scars, but they may never go away.

Remember, once you've said something, you can never take it back! by Beth Ranado


Create - from a large sheet of paper (or maybe a couple of large sheets taped together) - a girl.

The girl should be typical of the age group you are working with.

"Dress" her with markers and/or crayons and give her a name.{let groups give their own names} 

Take "Josephine" to the next meeting and sit her in a chair.

Once the meeting begins, introduce "Josephine" to all the girls - and say something nice about "Jo" and something - not bad, but - not so nice about "Jo".

The introduction could go something like this, "Girls, I want you to meet my friend Josephine. We really have a lot of fun together, except that sometimes she has REALLY BAD breath."

When you say this, rip off a piece of "Jo" - and don't make it a tiny piece.

Then invite the rest of the girls to come up and do the same thing. The girls are to make negative comments about "Jo".

They can be about her hair, her appearance, her clothing or about her personality - it doesn't matter.

Each girl as they make the negative comment (try to make sure they don't get too negative/nasty), they rip off a piece of "Jo". Once everyone has finished with their remarks - you can even invite them to do several –

next part of the "plan". Say, "OK girls - now that we've ripped Josephine apart - let's see if we can put her back together again."

  • If the girls actually do put "Josie" back together again, you need to point out to them that "Josie" will never be the same - that she now has "scars" that could last her a lifetime.
  • It really gives a very powerful message to all who participate in it.
  • It will show the children how destructive their behavior can be.
  • And, it should also create a bond (team building) amongst the children.
  • They should be able to see (you may have to facilitate a discussion about it) how their power - although in this case a negative power - can be pulled together - and that when channelled in a positive direction, they can accomplish anything!

  1. Forgive Yourself And Others
  2. Develop Inner Awareness
  3. Believe In Yourself
  4. Be Grateful
  5. Focus On Solutions
  6. Take Action
  7. Face Your Fears
  8. Question Your Thoughts
  9. Let Go Of The Past
  10. Smile
  11. Enjoy Life