Meet Yourself: A User’s Guide to Building Self-Esteem: Niko Everett at [email protected]

Meet Yourself: A User’s Guide to Building Self-Esteem: Niko Everett at TEDxYouth@BommerCanyon

Translator: Aya Aj
Reviewer: Queenie Lee I was 11 years old, and I was rubbing makeup
all over my legs to cover up my freckles because I hated them,
and I thought they were so ugly. I was 15, and I lived with my dad and my stepmom, and I lied about my mom. I lied about her because she was a waitress,
and she lived in a tiny apartment, and because she
was a recovering drug addict. I lied about her because I
was too ashamed to tell the truth. I was 17, and I was down on my knees
on a bathroom floor, and I was forcing myself to throw up
everything that I’d eaten that morning. I was desperate to be thin; I was trying so hard to be perfect. I was 21, and I didn’t even realize
what I was doing, but I was droning on and on
to my friend Julie, telling her about all the people we knew and how great they were,
and how amazing their lives were, and how much I wanted to be like them,
how jealous I was! And my dear friend Julie, she stopped me, and she said, “Niko, you need to meet yourself.” And when she said that to me,
it was like something changed. It was like she held a mirror up for me, and what she was showing me
was so different from what I’d ever seen before. She said, “Niko, you should
be jealous of yourself. You’re gutsy; you’re hard-working;
you’re resilient. If you could meet yourself, you might really like her. But as quickly as she painted
that image of me, it was gone! And I was totally confused because I, I see myself as embarrassing,
unlovable, awkward. But I loved that image that she created, and I wanted it back. So I set out on this journey to find it
and to try to make it stick. So eventually, I landed myself a job, working with young women. My job was to create a program for them
to help them increase their self-esteem, which, of course, was kind of laughable
because I had no self-esteem myself. But I started to wonder, I started to wonder, could we
create our own self-esteem? Could we build it ourselves? And I did a little research, and it turns out that self-esteem, it’s just based on our own
thoughts of ourselves. And I knew that we could
control our own thoughts, so I thought, “Yeah.” Maybe we could actually
start to build our own self-esteem, and I was willing to try. So the first session
I had with these girls, I had no idea what to do. I mean, I’ve never done this before,
so I was totally making it up. So I decided I was going
to have them each say one thing that they were proud of about themselves. We were going to test out this idea of starting to build more positive
thoughts about ourselves. It didn’t go so well. These girls, they couldn’t
say one single thing about themselves that they were proud of. And I understood
because I totally related, I mean, I felt the same way. So … I decided to create an exercise for them, for all of us to do. So the idea was that every time
we had a positive thought about ourselves, we would imagine turning up the volume, like literally turning up
the volume on that thinking, and every time we had a negative
thought about ourselves, we were going to press “delete,” just press “delete” in our brain, let it magically disappear. And it worked! It worked! This idea of kind of
stepping outside of ourselves so that we could see ourselves better. Little by little, we each came up with little things
about ourselves that we liked. But for me, for every little thing
that I came up with that I liked, it was like there were ten things
that I didn’t like – ten things that I felt critical about. So I checked it out with the girls.
They said, yeah, they felt the same way. So, we decided that at the end of each class
that we had together, we would have one of us
stand in the middle, and the rest of us
would stand around the others, and we would each tell the girl
that was standing in the middle one thing that we admired about her, one thing that we really liked. And it was so hard to stand in the middle. It was like we didn’t want to let it in. We wanted to just
keep those compliments out. And so we made up a rule. The rule was that when someone
gave us a compliment, we would simply say, “Thank you.” At the end of every session
that we spent together, we all wrote down one thing
about ourselves that we admired. We forced ourselves
to sort of build this list, to get our thinking going about the things
that were important about ourselves. And I want to read to you
just a couple of things. These were the things
we wrote on the very first day, I kept the list. On the first day I wrote: “I’m proud of my work with these girls,” and the girls wrote: “I’m proud that I stood up for the girl
who was bullying my best friend.” “I think I’m smart.” “I like that I’m different.” “I’m a really fast sprinter.” And “I’m a good artist.” At the end of that year, these girls started to change. It was like they
were walking a little taller. They were kinder to themselves, they were kinder to each other, and I, I started to change too. It was like they showed me
that I could rewrite my story. And I realized, I realized that we weren’t the only ones
struggling with that story; boys were struggling too; teenagers, even adults
were having a tough time coming up with one or two things
to say about themselves that they felt good about. And this negative self-image
that we were holding on to, it was showing up
in our culture in alarming ways. It turns out that teens’ suicide, it’s the third leading cause of death
amongst young people. One out of four girls
says they have sex for the first time to be more liked, to be more popular. And boys and girls alike,
they’re joining gangs, and the number one reason
is not to feel safer, it’s to feel more important. But here is the good news; the good news is that we
can counteract this. The work that I did with those girls and the work I’ve done
for the last 15 years, we’ve come up with ways for us to feel
good about ourselves right now, today, and I want to share
some of those things with you, OK? So, the first thing that we can do
to feel good about ourselves is we can spend time
with people who make us feel good. This is me and Julie
when I very first met her. Find your “Julie” and spend time
with her or him. The second thing is that we can turn up
the volume on our positive thinking. We can build up those thoughts
about ourselves that are good, and we can delete the negative thoughts,
just press “delete.” The third thing. Start to tell the people around you – maybe the people around you today – start to tell them what you see
about them that you like. Help them jumpstart
their own positive thinking. And the last thing is, when you receive a compliment, when we receive compliments,
let’s stand our ground, let’s look them in the eye,
and let’s just say, “Thank you.” Let’s create a new culture: a culture where we all get to grow up
feeling good about ourselves. A culture where we
can rewrite our histories, we can create new stories about ourselves. I will start. I’m 11, and I like these legs because someday they’re going to
help me run marathons. I’m 15, and I’m proud of my mom
for getting herself sober and for making a better life for us. I’m 17, and I know that nobody is perfect. I’m 21, and I think I’m just
as successful as my friends. I’m 37, and now, this is my story. I invite you today. I invite you to do two things with me. First, be “Julie” for someone; invite him/her to meet themselves. Because it might change their lives. And second, I want you to get out a piece of paper, and I want you to write down
ten things about yourself that you admire. The ten things about yourself that if you were someone else,
you might even be jealous of. And I want that to be the beginning
of your story today. I’ll help get you started, OK? So, I just met you a couple hours ago, literally, just a couple hours ago. And I can already say that you are gutsy; you are hardworking; you are unique; you are resilient; you are talented, you are gentle; you are calm; you are all amazing! Thank you. (Applause) (Cheering)

Comments (23)

  1. Thank you for being another light who became committed to yourself in results leaving a rippling affect on someone else. Cheers to paying it forward. To the light that comes across this, cheers to where it takes you. How it may be one of the factors that takes you to a different space.

  2. I have been fat-shamed for as long as i can remember, it constantly makes me think that no matter what i do, i will never be respected truly. I live in an Asian country, and like many others it has this beauty standard of being super thin and having pale skin, i am nothing like that and continuously get shit on by so many people, it makes me hate myself

  3. It worked to me thank you very much, I want to share a small video that will help you

  4. Why do people have freckles
    I wished I had freckles

  5. Was this supposed to help my self esteem???

  6. This was inspirational

  7. 💙💙💙👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

  8. 10 things i like about my self:
    1am hard working
    2i'm fun and trying to make people happy and give them support
    3-i think about my problem amd see where did i went wrong or did i went wrong or no
    4- i tough my self english ( arabic my native language)
    5- i'm smiling person and ilike that just u look at me iwill smile or if i look at you xD
    6 – always dreaming about having bff in reality
    7 ilike my sound and my singing and reading books UwU

    8 ilke how i look cuz we not perfect
    9im trying to be there for the people iknow and iwant to be julie for someone cuz i want to help them get through it

    10 ilike my art xD and trying to be strong ヾ(@^▽^@)ノ and i want people to be happy and wish for you all the best

    and here 10 things i don't like about me but i move on fast and be happy again and i'm trying to change and if u have any advice pls tell me :
    1 i lose my confidence quick
    2 Negative opinions or swearing effects on me and i think i have weak personality cuz of that

    3 i like people that don't like me and get hurt but i know that they hate me…

    4-i cry so fast i mean that

    5- sometimes i just want to hide and just look to the ground but idid nothing to be embarrassed

    6i'm afraid to mess everything up
    7afraid get close to people cuz i know iget hurt but tho i want to get close
    8- if i went wrong every one stared to judfe me and it effects and ibe sceard to do something again
    9 sometimes i just be so afraid from people but i'm not shy
    10 i give excuses to not do any thing or Delay it
    im not saying im not happy with my life but this things iwant to change and iwill if you have advice pls tell me💗

  9. Beautiful!! Brilliant!!! I love this!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  10. I’ll try to add to this list everyday:

    I’m smart
    I’m sometimes confident
    I’m sometimes pretty
    I’m sometimes fun to be around
    I’m proud that I’m trying to be more confident
    I’m proud of what I will become in the future (hopefully a doctor)
    I’m proud of myself for always trying to not let my ego control me
    I’m proud of having such an amazing mom
    I’m proud of having such a hardworking mom
    I’m proud of having such a loving brother
    I’m proud of trying to become happier
    I’m proud of my taste in music
    I’m proud that sometimes I don’t care about what people think of me
    I’m proud of myself for being so kind
    I’m proud of myself for always being on the lookout for bad things I’m doing in my life
    I’m proud of myself for always caring about people and trying to make people happy
    I’m proud of myself for always being there for my mom

  11. As a 17-year-old, I have been struggling with socializing with classmates at school and being made fun of because of my mistakes. Even my attraction to both male and female, some would make fun of that as well. One of the boys would pretend to have feelings for me and sweet-talk me because almost everybody in my class knew that I had a boyfriend. I stood up to one of them for annoying me about the breakup and he just sat down and said nothing to me. It was cruel for them to treat me like that. I am afraid of being rejected by my classmates because of how weird I am and different to them. Some so called "friends" would pretend to be nice to you, but when you turn their backs on them, their "other side" will come out and either gossip me to others and treat me bad. When I was 16, I suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide; the psychiatrist gave me my medication and I felt better last January of this year and have stopped taking my medications.

  12. Believe in your self
    never ever give up
    Best way to boost your confidence

  13. a good book on how to improve your life

  14. I can’t just delete my negative thoughts. What.

  15. Things I love about myself:

    – I’m friendly
    – Hardworking
    – have a great sense of humour

  16. God I love me ..I'm amazing and extremely talented and wealthy..My god I'm just to good it's embarrassing to tell others 😊…in fact I am!…God

  17. 1.I love myself❤
    2.I am honest, 100% sure
    3.I am hardworking and intelliegnt too. unique , I have a totally different sense of clothing which someone think weird but mostly people around me apprecaite
    5. I have a strong character
    6.I have a pluristic thinking
    7. I have this amazing habit of reading books, I love to be lonely with books , i am addicted to the smell of books and the feeling in my finger while.turning the pages✌
    8.I have always been a grateful person
    9.I always work on myself
    10. I love my parents, siblings,friends and all the natives of planet Earth..

  18. I came here bcs my self-esteem has hit rock bottom and I'm tired of everything. Thanks Niko, I enjoyed the talk and I love ur volume up and delete idea, Imma try it soon!

  19. Am 20 and i am until this day stuggling with self esteem and self image since i was 10 … it seems like it will never go

  20. A Billion Angels guiding Marianne Wiliamson for President x

  21. Great ideas!
    Those things we tell others should be specific to be genuine.
    Funnily enough, "You're unique" is true of everyone. lol

  22. 1)I've grown to be more willing to trying new activities where I'd previously avoid them, thinking It wasn't worth trying because I'd probably make a fool of myself.
    2) I try my best never to say anything behind someone's back unless it's positive
    3)Despite being stuck in my ways unwilling to change due to the discomfort it gives me, I haven't given up hoping that the day would come when I'd be able to stick it out through it and change.
    4)I have a unique way of viewing the world, it is not original by any means but it is mine
    5)I'm proud that I was born who I am
    6)I have more potential than I think
    7)I love that I care about the human struggle
    8)I love that I love reading
    9)I appreciate the fact that I am still idealistic, that even though I learn more and more horrible things about the world and myself, I believe that things can be better
    10) I can write in a way that is very image based.

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