'Kick Off'
 'Tackling Mental Health for Rugby League'
Close Window

Kick Off




'Sports do not build character, they reveal it.'


'Kick Off''....Innovative, Proactive & Dedicated to Rugby League                                  

    sad man            Isolation

                     Mental Health Promotion Video

 Kick Off...Mental Health for Rugby League

                                                                                                                      Audio Option                     


Self Esteem


I...............................therefore I am!

Audio    Unavailable at this time


In Psychology, ‘Self Esteem’ reflects a person’s ‘self-appraisal’ of their own worth (to 'self-estimate'). It has often been referred

to as ‘Self Worth’, ’Self Respect’, ‘Self Confidence’, ‘Self Regard’, or ‘Self Love’. Self Esteem involves both beliefs & emotions and can be seen also in behaviours.   





  • Beliefs “I am competent or I am incompetent”  
  • Emotions–  ‘Triumph v Despair’ or ‘Pride v Shame’  
  • Behaviours 'Assertiveness v Timidity' or 'Confidence v Caution'  


soaring high


Self Esteem can be considered in two (2) ways. These being (1) that enduring personality characteristic; referred to as Self Esteem ‘Trait’, or (2) a short term ‘incident/effect’ normal variation; referred to as ‘State’ Self Esteem.


As such it can therefore apply to a specific area eg. “I believe I am a good Rugby League Player and of that I am particularly pleased & proud”, or it can be more ‘broad based’ & global in nature eg. “I am a good person and I’m generally satisfied & proud of that”.


Esteem in this context involves two (2) distinct types. One is ‘Self Respect’ or ‘Self Regard’ & the other is Respect from Others’. The latter involves recognition, acknowledgment, acceptance, status & appreciation. Without these the individual will feel discouraged, weak & inferior. It could be interpreted as being the precursor or building block to the development of self esteem. It would be difficult to assume sound self esteem could exist or be maintained in the absence of esteem from others.





                                                                         Absolute facts:



  • Self Esteem exists   
  • Self Esteem is an intrinsic & vital need   
  • Self Esteem is essential for our well being   
  • Self Esteem motivates us   
  • Self Esteem determines our satisfaction with ourselves & our lives   
  • Self Esteem enables us to problem solve more efficiently   
  • Self Esteem is a pre-requisite to the achievement of our ultimate goals   
  • Self Esteem helps us maintain sound relationships with others   
  • Self Esteem develops; we are not born with it   
  • Self Esteem requires the input from others (esteem of others) & life experiences to develop   
  • Self Esteem is either healthy (good, sound etc.) or unhealthy (poor, low etc.)  


Where does 'Self-Esteem’ come from?




Self Esteem develops as we do. It is shaped by our experiences with others and the activities, incidents  experiences throughout our lives. The childhood developmental stages are particularly significant to the creation of ‘self esteem’ as is the basic personality & genetic predisposition to personality type.


As we grow, the successes & failures (or perception of success & failure) combined with the input & messages from important figures in our lives will determine how our self esteem is created. These include our parents, or parental identities, siblings, extended family (uncles, aunts, grandparents etc.), schoolteachers, coaches, people of religion and our peers (mates/friends).


Imagine now that these influences from our childhood years create a type of ‘filter’ through which future events, incidents & experiences are ‘passed through’ and interpreted by our minds accordingly. An individuals’ interpretation; their thought processes, feelings & emotions are contingent upon that which is received after being ‘filtered’.


If the filter is positive & healthy, the filtered effect will be positive. If, on the other hand, our filter comprises negativity & unhealthy experiences, incidents and input, then the outcome will ultimately be detrimental to the development and/or maintenance of healthy self esteem.






Positive (healthy) Self Esteem




Sound, healthy ‘self esteem’ is characterized by:-



  • An individual’s capacity to self assess themselves accurately   
  • Realistically acknowledge their strengths, weaknesses & limitations   
  • Display a greater capacity for problem solving   
  • Unconditionally value & accept themselves  
  • Unconditionally accept that they are worthy & worthwhile  
  • Unconditionally accept & acknowledge others  
  • Maintains a generally positive or optimistic outlook on life 



The key words in these points are:- Accurately, Realistically and Unconditionally.



People with a healthy self esteem the messages from within themselves are those that are positive & reassuring.


Examples of messages received as children that contribute to a healthy self esteem are:-


  • Being shown affection – given hugs & attention  
  • Being listened to  
  • Being praised 
  • Flexible, yet realistic, boundaries set by parents &/or significant others 
  • Have good trustworthy friends  
  • Achieving success at school – academically or in the sporting arena  
  • Achieving success outside of school – sports & other extracurricular activities  
  • Being spoken to respectfully  









Low (unhealthy) Self Esteem




Low or poor ‘self esteem’ is characterized by:-




  • Negative self assessment or inaccurate self appraisal    
  • Tends to focus more on the weaknesses & limitations, diminishing or ignoring any strengths    
  • Have difficulty solving problems or determining solutions to life’s issues    
  • Often indecisive and unsure    
  • Require constant reassurance or their worth    
  • Require constant positive feedback to counteract negative opinion of themselves    
  • Level of self esteem is conditional upon ‘how they are doing in the present’   
  • Conditional upon positive external experiences & influences    
  • Conditional upon how others view & treat them    
  • Hold a generally negative & pessimistic outlook on life  


The key words in these points are:- inaccurate, negative,  conditional



Examples of messages received during childhood development that contribute to a poor or low self esteem are:-


  • Being ‘yelled at’ or physically punished (beaten)  
  • Being ignored, teased, mocked or belittled  
  • Being subjected to excessive criticism 
  • Being overly 'protected' or 'defended' by parents or parental role models 
  • Being 'idealised' by parents &/or significant others 
  • Misplaced priorities &/or focus on superficiality or materialism 
  • Having few or no ‘real’ friends or being ‘turned on’ or ‘dumped’ by friends  
  • Experiencing failures at school & in sport  
  • Expected to be ‘perfect’ all of the time with little tolerance shown for any failings or errors  








The person with a ‘low self esteem’ will sometimes feel good about themselves, though only temporarily and based upon positive external experiences, events, influences & responses from others in an ongoing manner. The underlying negativity & feelings of lowered self worth ultimately return and dominate their self appraisal. They constantly criticize and punish themselves, belittling their accomplishments & achievements. In effect they become their worst critic.


It is often difficult for a person to recognize their level of self esteem or poor self esteem in others. They may view it as a negative personality type, an illness, an unfortunate character trait etc. This only serves to reinforce the low self esteem and the feelings of negativity, failure and worthlessness.


In order to demonstrate what you might experience or what you may see in others, we will detail three (3) of the more common manifestations of ‘low self esteem’.





The rebel (the ‘rule breaker’/the defiant) – The rebel is angered by themselves and their low self esteem. They turn this anger outward at others and, at times, society at large. They behave as if the opinions of others don’t matter, particularly if those people are in positions of power or important in stature. They are constantly trying to prove that other people’s criticism & opinions don’t bother or hurt them. They feel they are ‘not good enough’ & by putting others down, they attempt to build themselves up. Some aspects of ‘school bullying’ can be attributed to this type of manifested low self esteem, though not all. Problems that may result from this behavioural approach to their low self worth are:- breaking laws or rules, fighting or challenging authority, aggression & acts of destruction, constant & excessive blaming or criticizing others.



The loser (the victim/the helpless) – ‘Lack of assertiveness & passivity’, dependency (particularly in relationships), underachievement, inability or avoidance of problem solving are but some of the outcomes this type of individual will experience. They act helpless and look to someone else to save them due to their inability to cope with the world. They fear responsibility and constantly look to others for guidance. They exhibit ‘self pity’ & ‘indifference’ as a means of protecting themselves from making decisions, solving problems or achieving goals.



The imposter (the actor/the fake) – This is the individual that despite being terrified of failure ‘acts’ cheerful, bright, confident & successful. They need the constant reinforcement of their worth by success & achievements in order to maintain their superficial positive self esteem, living in fear that they’ll be uncovered as the imposter they believe they know they are. Their drive to act this way can lead to procrastination, perfectionism, competition, anxiety, depression & ‘burnout’.



 How to combat ‘Low Self Esteem’




The main problem attached to recognizing, addressing & combating ‘low self esteem’ is often the ‘low self esteem’ itself. It is also why the individual with a healthy self esteem cannot understand why someone has a low self esteem or why they can’t simply change. It’s not that easy.



A person with feelings of poor self worth & self deprecating thoughts has spent years developing and inculcating these into their everyday life; their every waking moment. To simply decide to change that in an instant whether it is the individual themselves making this choice or others expecting this change is daunting and extremely challenging. It requires determination and effort, support & understanding.


Having said this it is definitely achievable and should most definitely be pursued. To live a life with a low self esteem does not value life itself and will not allow the individual to become all that they can become. It is a miserable existence.



The league player faces additional hurdles in their efforts to address ‘low self esteem’. The higher they are in profile and standing within both league circles & public image, the harder it becomes. These can be:-





  • An expectation of ‘toughness’, & perhaps the player’s own personal belief of toughness 


  • The image that their lives are perfect; they ‘have everything’… they’re envied by others….why spoil the myth (even to themselves)  


  • Should a player’s self esteem hinge solely upon ‘on field’ performance, they leave themselves open to a sudden fall & crisis if failure occurs in this area. Similarly, if injury or events leading to a sudden cessation in participation occur, then self worth & self esteem can be seriously affected. 


  • Access to & availability of recreational drugs & alcohol can become a method of compensating for poor self esteem and self medicating resultant problems 


  • Success & confidence ‘on the paddock’ is assumed to naturally translate across all aspects of a player’s life – They don’t. The player may also believe or try to convince themselves of this. 



  • Pride. High profile, successful, well known, financially well off……”How can I admit I have a low self esteem and basically think I’m crap”.  


  • Fear of the unknown. What happens when I ‘own up’ to my self esteem issues? What will people think? What will the club do? What will my partner or my children, or my parents think? Where do I go from there? The answer unfortunately can be….I’ll just stay as I am; I’m good on the field & at training; I’m OK with my mates; this is the way I am, I’m accustomed to it and what’s the point in changing now.  




Recognising or acknowledging ‘low self esteem’ is the first step toward solution. Start to challenge the misconceptions of the past and the misconceptions of your thoughts & feelings; the negative experiences and/or messages you received in the past.


To put this into practice you need to consciously respond to a ‘negative’ reactionary thought to an event or situation (trigger) by opposing (or challenging) it and providing a ‘positive’ alternative.


The essence of challenging irrational ‘negative’ thoughts & beliefs are as follows:-



  • Be specific - See it as a specific issue or event. The person with low self esteem tends to want to ‘generalise’ and expand so that the response from ‘within’ applies to ‘everything’ to do with your life. Eg. “I’m no good at anything, I never was”. 
  •  Be objective – Avoid ‘jumping to conclusions’; avoid allowing yourself to be ‘hurt’ by a response and developing or exhibiting the corresponding emotion or feeling. “Oh well, she snapped at me & doesn’t want to talk….I’ll wait until she’s ready”.  
  •  Be reassuring – Try to give yourself a ‘pat on the back’ when you’ve done the best you could. Congratulate yourself for ‘having a go’; for ‘seeing it through’. See it as an accomplishment and achievement. “I’m not a great public speaker, but I thought I did pretty good”. 
  • Provide alternative reason/scenario – A negative or perceived negative response or event/occurrence need not necessarily apply to you. Just because someone doesn’t behave the same way each time, or not behave or look at you as you would expect or wish them to, does not mean you are the reason or that something is wrong with you. Remember they have lives too, they have issues; they have problems. “Maybe she had a bad day at work”; ‘Maybe he had other things on his mind”. If it is concerning, then clarify – ask, don’t assume. 




Other things you need to do in order to ‘combat’ low self esteem and ultimately ‘maintain’ healthy self esteem are:-




  • Look after your physical health. Good diet & exercise are part & parcel of the Rugby League player’s life or at least should be. Avoid smoking, illicit drugs and/or excessive alcohol intake. Ensure you get enough sleep and that it’s quality sleep.  


  • Plan to do enjoyable/relaxing things for yourself. This could be a round of golf with your mates, time at the beach with your family, a movie, a simple nap in the afternoon etc. 


  • Learn to forgive (both yourself & others) – Avoid being self critical. Don’t blame yourself or condemn yourself. It is not easy to do, given that you’ve probably become very accustomed to it, but it is absolutely essential. Learning to forgive others is even harder. Resentment toward people for contributing to your low self esteem can be very entrenched. It can also involve those you love such as your parent or parents. Practice saying to yourself“I forgive you for not knowing what the outcome of your behaviour would be and the effect it would have. I’m stronger than to let that affect me now and in the future”.     


  • Strengths & achievements throughout your life should provide you with the acknowledgment of your success as a person. Keep reminders of these accomplishments at hand in order to reinforce your positive self-worth. Try not to let them be only football related. They may be letters & cards, school certificates or other awards. Make a list of your positive achievements and keep it somewhere visible to you.   


  • Reward yourself when you achieve something rather than try to find a reason why you don’t deserve to achieve or attempt to diminish it by irrationally lowering its importance or significance. Take yourself out to celebrate (within reason) or give a mate or family member a call and share your achievement with them.   


  • As hard as it is, you need to ‘act’ as though you believe what you’re doing. You might not ‘feel’ it yet, but with more time, you will. The old adage ‘fake it till you make it’ applies very clearly in this case. Remember, it is not as easy as simply deciding you’re going to think better about yourself. Actions speak louder than words. Your behaviour; your intent and desire; your will power and your determination will achieve the results you are aiming for. In this way you will begin to feel worthy, worthwhile, valuable, competent and deserving.    


The consequences of living a life with low self esteem can be extremely damaging and similar to those experienced with chronic or major depression. These being:-


  • Anxiety    
  • Stress    
  • Loneliness & feelings of isolation    
  • Drug & Alcohol abuse    
  • Feelings of jealousy    
  • Anger    
  • Poor or disrupted relationships      
  • Divorce    
  • Damaged friendships with mates    
  • Self harming and/or risk taking behaviour    
  • Decreased occupational options    
  • Poor academic achievements    
  • Unfulfilled potential and non achievement of career goals    
  • Ultimately poorer performance ‘on the field’    


Each of these possible outcomes will result in the reinforcement of a negative self image. Each is a ‘negative’ itself. The end result is that your self esteem deteriorates and worsens as it begins to ‘feed’ on itself. Remember the three (3) dimensional downward spirals of ‘Depression’ and ‘Drug  Alcohol Abuse’.  If it is too daunting a task addressing your low self esteem, then you need to talk to someone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a professional; a Doctor, Counsellor or Therapist. It can simply be a mate or your partner or a member of your family who you feel might provide you with the encouragement and support you need. Low self esteem is not a mental illness, though its results can be very damaging. It certainly can be the reason for the development of a mental illness, however, if it is not rectified and circumstances and events lead toward a progressively ‘worse’ self image.



Please click here for Self Esteem 'Fact Sheet'



Self Esteem



 'Bullycide'....The other end of self esteem (the ultimate price paid for cruelty & the destruction of one's 'self esteem')

Should you have concerns regarding any issue relating to your 'mental or physical well-being', 'Kick off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your choice, ensure you see someone who might help. 

This page last updated: 

Kick Off 'Survey'

12 simple questions for essential feedback & service improvement


"Kick Off' is a 'world first' program & service dedicated specifically to a sport....in this instance; the great game of Rugby League.



Bookmark this page
Twitter Google Bookmarks Facebook Yahoo My Web

Latest mental health news, articles, facts & information.

(please click)






Shane Webcke 'Hard Road'







Beyond Blue

beyond blue




bravehearts logo

Men of League

men of league

Mensline Australia

mensline logo

Alcoholics Anonymous

aa logo


quit logo

The Black Dog Institute

black dog logo

SANE Australia

sane logo


lifeline logo






Comments & Feedback

"Keep up the good work"

Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP
Senior Psychologist/Director
ADC Psychological Services, PLLC
1728 Broadway, Suite 1
Hewlett, NY 11557







 Supporters & Sponsors

 Wynnum Manly Seagulls

Wynnum Manly Seagulls

The Jingle Factory

The Jingle Factory

sponsor needed

sponsor needed

sponsor needed

sponsor needed

sponsor needed

sponsor needed

sponsor needed

sponsor needed