Self-esteem is an emotional appraisal of your own worth which can be related to your age, body, gender, ethnicity and mental health. It is about how you think and feel about yourself. The levels vary in different stages of life and can improve or diminish with experiences and life situations. Being self-confident on the other hand is more about belief in your abilities to do something. You can be self- confident and still lack in self-esteem.

High self-esteem is generally associated with goals, coping mechanisms, expectations and behaviours that facilitate productive achievement. Whilst low self-esteem is negatively associated with mental and physical health problems. It can result in self-criticism, hypersensitivity to criticism contributing towards anxiety and depression. The impact of low self-esteem on relationships can be dire with a danger of getting caught up in coercive controlled relationships where a person will tolerate abusive treatment rather than take action, feeling underserving of love and happiness.

In collectivist cultures of ESEA communities however the individualistic notions self-confidence and self-esteem are not necessarily emphasized, socialized more towards virtues of modesty and conformity. These cultural differences and values have had bearing on how individuals from those communities have responded to the trauma of Asian Hate crimes. However the tide is turning away from self-silencing as the second and third generation youth of the ‘model minority’ communities are finally using their voice to fight back and make a difference.

Be Proud of What Makes You Different

Racial micro aggressions such as being shouted at with racial slurs or probing questions about ethnicity can their toll on your self- esteem making you question your identity and self- worth resulting in feelings of shame and loss of confidence. 

When you hear or read about a stereotype, learn to critically recognize it and then use it as  a reminder to yourself to focus on the things that you love most about your culture.

Take time to find about your natural talents and evaluate your skills that can help you to feel good about yourself.

Realise that you are not your circumstances.

Validation

Racism hurts. Discrimination hurts and it’s real.

Feeling low is the time to acknowledge your feelings and remember your values of what is important to you and what you want in life. Be sure to recall your strengths that come from your culture.

Remember, sometimes people lift themselves up by putting others around them down.

You shall not diminish despite this experience.

Talking & Listening

Reach out to your friends and family who you know might be hurting. Listen and learn from to their stories. Have those uncomfortable conversations with your loved ones and colleagues.

Speak out on social media platforms such as DearAsianYouth, DearAsianGirl, TheNextGenerasianTheAsianArticles, asian_advocates, Racism Unmasked Edinburgh and Asian Leadership Collective.

Gain support from your community linked organisations by sharing your story.

Mindfulness

Be mindful of your own self-talk and realize when you might be repeating negative messages absorbed from the outside. When feeling anxious and caught up in negative self-talk, focussing on your breadth can help you to come back to the present.

Regular meditation can help you to observe your thoughts and help when feeling overwhelmed. Ask yourself “Where is this thought [or feeling] coming from?” You are not your thoughts.

Ditch Comparison

You are unique. Comparing your internal thoughts to outside images of others can be toxic lowering your self-esteem and self-confidence.  

Life is not a competition.

Hearing your Inner Critic

Low self-esteem is influenced and created by the things we are told and what we experience from the time we are born. “I am not good enough” is a familiar voice of the inner critic that haunts even the most successful and wealthy.

Write down your own voice of inner critic. Explore what the opposite thought or belief might be and rewrite what you wrote. Remember, changing internal negative voice is a process that takes time.

Be self-compassionate and forgive yourself about your negative beliefs that can boost your self-esteem.

What are your Esteem-able Activities?

Doing something for yourself and for others can increase the ‘feel good’ factor impacting on your self- esteem. 

Activities as going to the gym, having a beauty treatment, reading a book, or helping someone can give you a ‘feel good’ factor nourishing your self-esteem. 

Make a habit of doing one esteem-able activity a week and explore new ones.

If you are looking for more ways to boost your self-esteem, this may be helpful:

Written by Dr. Chandrika Patel.

Dr. Chandrika Patel is a freelance writer, playwright, meditator and traveller. Happiest when in nature and at home.


Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

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In the UK, Asian hate crimes against people of East and South East Asian (ESEA) countries has risen by 300% during the pandemic compared to previous years.

However, it was already a problem before the pandemic. In the latest YouGov poll, almost three-quarters of people of East and South East Asian descent said they experienced COVID-related verbal abuse and physical assaults in 2020. Hate crimes against ESEA people are often downplayed by the police and often absent from media stories. This refusal to acknowledge hate crimes does not invite confidence in the victims adding to the trauma of the experience.

Trigger warning for sensitive content.

Did you know that according to an IPSOS MORI poll from February 2020, one in seven people in the UK intentionally avoid people of Chinese origin or appearance?

However, the ESEA communities in UK are not confined to one particular area, with over 95,000 mainly residing in inner and outer London alone and the largest Chinese community in Manchester consistsing of over 13,000 people. Moreover people of ESEA heritage are scarce in many public spheres despite the Chinese being the fourth largest minority-ethnic group (2011 Census).

The surge in hate crimes against ESEA communities inevitably has a psychological impact resulting in mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, trauma and lowering of self-confidence and self- worth. This affects not only on the victims and their loved ones but also those who witness such incidents. Fear of racism can be harmful too, undermining resilience, hope and motivation. For the women affected, issues of misogyny, gender-based violence and xenophobia further add to the trauma of racism.

Indirect racism can also have impact on psychological health. You can be affected by constant negative headlines about your community or a country you have ties with, and with little to no representation in the media, and as well as discriminatory patterns of behaviour with institutions dismissing or denying that racism exists in the first place.

This acceptance of negative comments can become unconsciously internalised over a time can affect lowering of self- worth and self-confidence.


Here are some tips on how to recognise and deal with psychological impact of racism.

An ‘Oh Oh Oh’ Feeling

It’s ok to have emotional response to racism. Try not to push away or control feelings of anger, shame, fear, and hyper vigilance.  

Attend to and accept your emotional responses with compassion and without judgement. Pushing down of emotions can lead you to feel overwhelmed, resulting in anxiety and depression.

It’s good to talk 

It’s ok to acknowledge and discuss the deep impact of racism. It is a sign of resilience not weakness. Find your tribe in terms of individuals/organisations with whom you can share freely how you feel. 

There is no shame in seeking out therapy if that is what you need. It’s empowerment.

Sharing is caring

Share your story on digital platforms. Stories can be powerful in highlighting what racism looks and feels like and in gathering support. 

Don’t let the myth of ‘model minority’ stop you calling out racism. 

If you are not comfortable talking, journaling your thoughts and feeling can also be useful way of expressing yourself. Writing/recording on phone can allow you to externalise how you think and feel, easing the burden whilst raising self- awareness. 

Cultivate self-compassion

Understand that responses to racist experience make sense. If you were to write a letter to someone you care about who has experienced racism, what would you say to them?

We are often more kinder to others than ourselves. Self- compassion pushes us to make the best of ourselves.  

Hug Me Myself I 

Affirmations spoken in front of mirror can be powerful in raising awareness of your thoughts and feelings that can come up when you say aloud:

  • “I am going through a tough time. I am giving myself a hug (place your hand on the heart) so I can go through on the other side.” 
  • “I am going to give myself kindness that I give to others.”
  • “I deserve love and kindness in this difficult time in my life.”  

I am enough

Racism can chip away at your sense of own value and worth. 

Be aware of internalised racism caused by acceptance of repeated negative messages about your own community/culture impacting on your self-worth and confidence.

Surround yourself with people who know your value and worth.

Embrace and own your achievements. Make a list of things you are most proud of and keep it as a screen saver.

Learn to distinguish between constructive feedback that can help you to move forward and negative comments about you as a person.    

Embrace your racial identity

Racial slurs and name calling can stir up your own inferiority complex which can be about your looks and/or about own your sense of belonging.

Acknowledge how you feel without judgement. 

Learn about your cultural background by talking to your parents, reading books and talking to others. 

Challenge stereotypical images about your culture that can help in educating others.

Know your values

Values can motivate us to engage with life and involves doing what matter to you. 

Values can help you to focus on who you are and what you want that can help you to choose appropriate actions in your best interest. 

It can help with feeling of being in control in the face of situations that are out on control adding to your empowerment.

Walk on by

For the sake of your psychological wellbeing, choose to walk away from conversations that involve explaining or justifying racism to others.

Use your energy wisely. It is not your responsibility to explain racism. 

Be selfish about self- care

Going through experiences of racism can take toll on your emotional and physical health. 

Exercise, spending time outdoors, nutritious food, sleep, spending time with people who nourish you, counselling can all be useful aids.

Find which activities at work best for you and use them to look after you.

You are worth it.

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.


Written by Dr. Chandrika Patel.

Dr. Chandrika Patel is a freelance writer, playwright, meditator and traveller. Happiest when in nature and at home.

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Hate incidents take many different forms, but boil down to being verbally or physically harassed because you are perceived as different. In the UK, ‘different’ is legally defined as in terms of an individual’s race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, or their disability. 

Recorded hate crimes against East and Southeast Asians (ESEAs) in the United Kingdom sharply increased during the pandemic. Experiencing anti-ESEA hate is a terrifying, demeaning and isolating experience: but please know that you are not alone. There are many ways to get help in processing what has happened to you and organisations that want to support you.

1: Self Care

Your number one priority is you and your well-being. If you’ve been on the receiving end of anti-ESEA hate, it is perfectly normal to experience a range of physical, mental and emotional reactions that last anything from a day to months, to even longer. Remember: you have been through an incredibly stressful event. It’s okay to allow yourself time to recover. Do what you need to do to self care. However, if at any point, you feel unable to cope with your thoughts and physical reactions, please seek professional help.   

Hackney Chinese Community Centre are holding free counselling in Cantonese and Mandarin, ESAS offer free group sessions for people experiencing racism trauma, and Vietnamese Mental Health Services offer culturally sensitive counselling services. If you’re looking for something mindful, Kind Red Packet has put together a database of ESEA led yoga and meditation classes. 

In the US, the Asian Mental Health Collective has put together a directory for reduced fee therapy and mental health support and a state-specific resource directory

If you are experiencing a serious crisis, immediately call a support line for help, or your local emergency services. Asian Mental Health Resources have a collection of international hotlines here.

2: Be Safe

If you are being threatened or harassed by someone, do everything you can to keep yourself safe. Get yourself to safety, walk away, find help if you can. You may feel as though you want to confront the person harassing you: make sure you assess the risk before you do so, as you do not want to escalate the situation. Here are some tips for conflict resolution: but we must stress, your safety is key.

3: Report It

Hate incidents are hugely under-reported, especially so in the ESEA community. It’s understandable why: it’s difficult and scary to talk about something awful that has happened to you, especially to a stranger. 

It’s important to know that there may not be a prosecution if you report a hate crime. However, in reporting your experience, you are enabling authorities to map where hate crimes are happening, so they can identify geographical locations that need more protection and resources. Likewise, you’ll be enabling charities and activists to collate information so they can make strong advocacy cases for the ESEA community as a whole.  

If you feel able, you can report the incident to the police in the United Kingdom and in the United States

If you aren’t comfortable reporting to the police – that’s okay! There are many charities and organisations that you can also report to instead. 

In the United Kingdom:

In the United States:

If you experience a hate incident in a professional setting like a place of work or at school, you can report it to HR or teachers. You will be protected by confidentiality laws, and these institutions have a duty of care to you. 

4: Record It

If you are unsure about reporting, that’s okay. Take your own time to process what to do. In the meantime, keep a note of all incidents related to the event, including times, dates and details of what happened. Depending on the nature of the incident, keep any physical evidence you can, including notes, letters, texts or emails sent to you, take photographs of what you can. If there were witnesses and you feel able, try to get a statement, or contact details so they can be contacted later. 

5: Strength In Solidarity

You are not alone. There are supportive communities and groups who understand what you are going through. Talking to others who have been through similar experiences and understand what it’s like to be targeted for your appearance can be healing. Online communities can provide a safe space for you to be listened to, with shared understanding and support. Here is a resource database of UK based communities, while in the United States, there are groups such as Subtle Asian Mental Health and Stop AAPI Hate. 

6. Make A Difference

Channel what you’re feeling into a positive outlet and consider joining an anti-racism organisation. Being a part of a movement that’s campaigning against racism can help you feel empowered. If you do become involved in activism, do still keep checking in on your mental wellbeing and self care, as the work can be very emotionally demanding. 

Here are some UK based ESEA-led organisations:

And for the United States:

7. Be Kind To Yourself

Remember that experiencing anti-ESEA hate is not your fault, and it is not your responsibility to fix racism. Racism and hate are learned behaviours.

Do not guilt yourself into thinking that you are not doing enough or blame yourself for what has happened. You are amazing.


Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.


Kim Richards is a content creator, Twitch streamer, producer, and scriptwriter. She’s part of High Rollers D&D, the 2nd biggest D&D show globally.

Kim is part of the team at End the Virus of Racism, a Intersectional campaign, tackling structural racism following tripled hate crime against East & Southeast Asian people during COVID. Learn more on their website: https://www.endthevirusofracism.com/

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In various settings, particularly at school and home, children are often put under pressure to think and behave in certain ways that define them as ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. Or they are from different cultures that look at things different from what is considered ‘normal’.

Over one-third of children have witnessed racism at schools before they are 13, while Chinese students in the UK are reporting increased racism and discrimination since the Coronavirus pandemic began.

This can lead to bullying in that people with strict ways of thinking and behaving may not have the tolerance and acceptance to welcome people who do not behave in ‘typical’ ways.


Top tips to help combat bullying due to stereotypes:

Ask why someone who is bullying holds stereotypes

Every moment is an educational opportunity. By encouraging open, non-judgemental conversations about this issue, you can have a massive positive impact and help to eradicate this issue.

Be a role model and educator

By modelling behaviours and ways of thinking that are accepting of all regardless of stereotypes, you are contributing towards eradicating bullying because of it. This is especially important to teachers and parents as they are often the most influential people in the lives of children and adolescents.

Talk regularly and specifically with people about issues with stereotypes.

This is especially important for teachers and parents. Let them know that they can come to you for an open conversation about this issue and that they will not be judged if they do hold stereotypical views.

Don’t under-react to bullying just because it is due to stereotypes.

As gender stereotypes are so common, comments like ‘You throw like a girl’, ‘Crying is for girls’ and ‘Why are you acting gay?’ are often just brushed under the carpet and dismissed as being playful. It is important to never underestimate the adverse impacts that such comments can have on an individual’s social, emotional, and academic welfare.

All bullying is serious no matter how playful insults may be perceived to be. This is especially important if people are bullying you based on stereotypes.

Even if the stereotypes are not offensive to yourself, and you do not class them as bullying, it is still important to react appropriately and challenge such views.

If you need support on any bullying issues, join our community here.

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  • Slightly Homophobic friend 😠
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  • Why am I ugly
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