Reboot, Reflect, Revive: Self-esteem in a Selfie World by Shobha Nihalani; An Excerpt

It is true there are people who will judge or resent us for wanting to aspire towards a goal. But that is a choice that one must make based on one’s own mindset.

Shobha Nihalani
Jul 15, 2021 12:02 IST
Self-esteem in a Selfie World
Shobha Nihalani's book Reboot, Reflect, Revive: Self-esteem in a Selfie World uses real-life corporate examples and evidence-based tips and techniques to boost self-esteem. An excerpt:

Deriving Self-Worth from External Factors

According to global statistics, about 20% of teenagers will experience depression before they reach adulthood. One in six people aged 10-19 years is suffering from depression. The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with everything: beauty, popularity, likes. This results in judgment, criticism, seeking an unattainable ideal. Fat is “bad”, dark is “ugly” and thin is “weak”. These, too much, too little, not good enough judgments impact our sense of self-worth. The adage “beauty is skin deep” seems almost passé.


Body shaming is defined as ‘the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.’ Almost every individual has experienced body shaming irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, religion, caste, or race. The way we feel is constantly influenced by our external surroundings.

Taking pictures has become much easier and as a result people post millions of selfies to social media sites daily. Snapping a selfie may seem like a nice way to capture a memory, but it actually has a major impact on self-esteem. When you take a selfie, you can’t help but to evaluate your appearance and comparing to others. Unlike prior eras when you had to wait for a photo to be printed, now you instantly view the result. You scrutinize your posture, your hair, your clothing, your makeup – anything that may look even slightly off the standard set by trending fashions. Your flaws are all too clear. With imaging software at our finger tips, any picture can be altered and refined for online sharing. As your inner critic takes centre stage, selfies become the modern-day axe, chopping down our inner joy.

Our self-esteem topples over and gets crushed by hundreds of comments and impressions. We add our own masala of self-loathing to the mix. We are easily rocked from our mantle of inner balance by some stranger from half way around the world. A few words can disrupt our day, gets us into an irritable mood.  This is if the self-esteem is vulnerable. Therefore our mindset makes a difference in how we view ourselves.


Mindset Matters

People with a fixed mindset have a need to protect their ego and may get very defensive when someone suggests they made a mistake—in other words, they measure themselves by their failures. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, often show perseverance and resilience in the face of errors—they become motivated to work harder. Carol Dweck’s, a Stanford University psychologist, findings suggest that success is 90% attitude.

Dweck popularized the idea of mindsets. She defines mindset as a simple idea that has a profound effect on a person’s life. ‘Mindset is the view that you accept for yourself what determines the way you live your life, see the world, and make decisions.’ After decades of research into people’s beliefs about themselves and their abilities, Dweck identified two fundamental mindsets that people have.


The first is a fixed mindset, which means that our abilities are innate or unchangeable. Our thoughts are rigid and conditioned. If we stick to a belief system, we are not able to look at an alternate point of view. When this mindset is predominant, failure can be unsettling because it makes us doubt ourselves from the root of who we are. The other way of thinking is the growth mindset, which means we expect that we can improve our basic qualities and capabilities. In this mindset, failure is not so problematic, for it shows us how to change and learn from our mistakes. We accept that change is inevitable, and in an ephemeral world, adapting to new ideologies and trends is necessary to stay in sync with the new generation. Resisting change affects our own mindsets. <17>

Many people are afraid to change or push towards a goal because they feel that other people will not approve, or they might lose respect if they fail. It is true there are people who will judge or resent us for wanting to aspire towards a goal. But that is a choice that one must make based on one’s own mindset.

In the ideas advocated by Dweck, we are all born with certain skills, but our attitude toward improving them and ourselves ultimately determines our success in life. There are many heroic people who inspire and motivate others to overcome problems to achieve their full potential.


We learn from the lives of others

Malala Yousafzai offers an inspiring example of the growth mindset. Malala was only ten years old when Taliban fighters took control of her region. Their strict beliefs dictated women could not go to the market and girls could not go to school. Malala was raised in Pakistan, and she was raised to stand up for what is right. She fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. Not only did she survive, but she has become an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Struggle and even failure can be an ally in our development. We discover our limitations and grow from there, changing and adjusting to the twists and turns of life. We accept too, what we cannot change and pursue other ways to achieve our goals. The growth mindset provides a pathway to greater happiness and success. And most importantly to accept ourselves as we are. From there the seed of self-esteem will be nourished.

Excerpted with permission from REBOOT, REFLECT, REVIVE: SELF ESTEEM IN A SELFIE WORLD by Shobha Nihalani, SAGE Response (2021)/ 264 pages/ ₹ 495.00 (9789353887780) / Paperback

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