Are those anonymous self-love sticky notes in public places overrated?

Or can they really undo the source of a woman’s poor self-esteem?

The person who wrote the “You are worthy” note has never seen you, let alone interacted with you to get a feel for your personality and social skills.

A fair question, then, is how can this phantom person’s little message actually make a woman’s day? And if it does, does this mean she has frail self-worth?

What matters is when a person who’s important to us and a part of our lives says we’re worthy and values our company and thoughts.

If a woman didn’t get this from her parents during childhood, a stranger’s note isn’t going to heal her — though it may uplift her for the next hour or so.

“Generalized self-esteem stickers are about as useful as motivational posters are in workplaces,” begins Patricia Celan, MD, a senior psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University in Canada.

Dr. Celan explains, “There is very limited research on their effectiveness, but the research available for motivational posters indicates that they may possibly have an impact on some employees – not all.

“The same can be assumed for self-esteem stickers. They can trigger a child [or adult] to be reminded of a helpful conversation they had previously, a pep talk that inspired them to think differently about themselves.

“However, unless a self-esteem sticker happens to strike a nerve, we can speculate that generic ones mostly have no effect.

“Even if a child disagrees with the sticker, there is no evidence that these stickers may cause harm such as cementing the negative self-talk.

“Certainly, a sticker has not caused any epiphanies or cured anybody with low self-esteem, as the only way to permanently feel better about yourself is to either seek extensive therapy or find interests, achievements and personal self-improvement.

“These stickers either have no effect on the vast majority of people, or they may inspire some people by reminding them of positive thoughts that they already had from previous experiences but had forgotten.”

Relationship with Parents

If you didn’t feel validated by your parents, and/or if older siblings belittled you, bullied you or otherwise behaved in a way that made you feel worthless INSIDE, how is it possible that a total stranger’s self-worth Post-it Note on a public mirror is going to fix your inner wounds?

Shutterstock/Volodymyr Baleha

Yet apparently, it actually happens – at least on a transient and superficial level.

But if repeated invalidations by family members throughout the developmental years have left a young woman feeling inadequate, “not worthy,” not good enough, dislikeable, defective or too weird for anyone to want to be friends with … these wounds cannot be mended by mere notes by strangers.

Criticisms or negative comments by the parent during childhood don’t necessarily relate to body weight or physical appearance, and in fact, often do NOT.

This is why even kids with conventionally attractive bodies and faces can still grow up feeling awful inside.

Feeling unworthy as an adult has origins in childhood and is years in the making. A sticky note in public isn’t going to fix this.

If a sticky note in public makes your day, that’s great. But it only makes one’s day. Or maybe hour.

There’s something deeper going on when you need a self-worth note by a stranger, who’s never met you, to feel better about yourself.

That deeper issue needs to be pursued so that you no longer need an anonymous person’s note to feel a transient worthiness.

Dr. Celan is a post-graduate trainee in psychiatry, working in diagnosing and treating patients with psychiatric conditions. She is passionate about psychotherapy, especially in trauma, anxiety and depression.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.