Self-esteem Myriad books have been written about the hotly debated subject of self-esteem. Plenty of definitions have been coined about this household word.Motivational speakers have devoted innumerable hours to discuss this topicat length. “Self-esteem” is a buzzword in pop (or popular) psychology. It hasbeen a subject of constant study for writers, philosophers, social scientists,educators, psychologists, and religious leaders over many decades. What isself-esteem? Self-esteem is how you rate yourself and how high/low youthink of yourself. Self-esteem should not be measured in relation to yourfinancial prosperity, achievements, health, beauty, wisdom, skills, fame, orname recognition. A deficiency in self-esteem is found in a person who failsto appreciate his worth and importance. Note that self-esteem is not beingpuffed up on the exterior and hollowed out on the interior. It is a bona fideexperience. Self-esteem comprises two components: self-worth and self-respect.Self-esteem is a pillar of emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligenceis the foundation for a blooming life. Self-esteem is also a staple of self-motivation and good mental health. Some people seem to be able to integrate within themselves a self-rewarding system that allows them to have a wonderful feeling when theyhave given a high-voltage performance; others seem to be born without that“special feature.” It is like the oil system in a car’s engine. Self-esteem is theoil that keeps the entire engine running efficiently. Some people seem tohave a leak in the oil system. In other words, there is a never-dying hungerfor excellence or self-development to counterbalance the leak in self-esteem;others seem to have burned out the engine altogether and have given up thebattle, embracing depression, and self-pity. High self-esteem High self-esteem is the fuel for a person’s strength. It is a good feelingthat makes a person feel turbocharged and aim high in life. It is the hallmarkof high-performing individuals. A person with high self-esteem is a guiding star to millions of otherpeople. He is an inspirational role model.
Let us analyze the stuff a person gains from high self-esteem: (1) He has infectious enthusiasm, a determination to succeed (in his blood), ambition (in his eyes), and passion (running through his veins). (2) He takes on a host of difficulties with drive and determination. (3) He is hell-bent on winning in life. (4) He is the epitome of friendliness. (5) He moves heaven and earth to achieve his goals. Example: Draven is a cosmetologist in Memphis. His for-profit hospitaloffers cosmetic peeling, microdermabrasion, skin tag removal, permanenthair reduction, liposuction, nose jobs, breast implants, eyelid surgery, andtummy tucks. He is one of the most sought after doctors in the wholecountry. Huge numbers of patients visit his hospital everyday to receivetreatments. Draven enjoys a lot of financial muscle. His achievements areburgeoning with every passing year. To put it explicitly, he is leapfroggingover others at such a pace that it is nearly impossible for others to matchhim. He is a winner all the way. Advice from Draven about the secret of his luminous face: Take a littlebaking soda, put it in the palm of your hand with a little warm water, andjust rub it on your face. It naturally exfoliates. Low self-esteem Low self-esteem is a very common, serious personal problem found inenormous proportions in today’s society. How does a person feel when he is in a straitjacket of low self-esteem? (1) He is averse to taking sensible, calculated risks in life. (2) Even a scintilla of an unpleasant thing rankles him beyond normal proportions.
(3) His enthusiasm and motivation often run out. (4) Diffidence creeps in, and his thinking goes haywire (resulting in an error in judgment). (5) He is a sitting duck for many people, as he is armed with a giant inferiority complex. (6) He wears the nametags of “Moaning Minnie” and “Nervous Nellie.” Example: Caiden is a reserved, low-key petroleum czar. He is abillionaire, lives in a twelve-bedroom, 30,000-square-foot mansion (all ofthe rooms feature top-quality furnishings and tasteful décor), and has a fleetof swanky cars like a Porsche Carrera GT, a Pagani Zonda C12S7.3convertible, a Spyker C8 Double 12S, and a Saleen S7 Twin Turbo. Hishuge garden has tree species that include sycamores, Norway maples,beeches, ash trees, lime trees, elms, Scots pines, and horse chestnuts. He hasvacation homes in 20 countries. He has a doting wife and two responsiblechildren. But despite being blessed with so many goodies in his life, he feelshollow inside. He is unable to erase the bad memories that date back to hischildhood. The raw deal and the pounding he took from his parents stillmake him feel irritated. On the face of it, from the world’s perspective, hemight be a successful person, but deep inside his psyche, he finds himself inthe doldrums. This situation is unlikely to change as long as he continues tobe an unforgiving inner parent. Self-criticism erodes your positive self-regardIrish writer John Banville, just before receiving the Booker Prize, consideredthe world’s most prestigious award for new fiction, was sure he would notwin: “I tend to think all my books are bad,” he said. Meryl Streep, even with years of acclaim for her acting, has admitted,“I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing… You can have aperfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent. It could be about notfeeling able to achieve a certain scene or about an emotion you feel youweren’t able to get to… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find outthat you don’t know what you’re doing… any one of those things.”
Many people regard self-criticism as healthy and a precondition forlearning. But it has more of a counterproductive effect. Remember, self-criticism through unkind words is like a deadly missile that penetrates thesoul, producing a deep scar that can stay with you for life. I am not welldisposed toward this idea of self-criticism. We would be better off if wefocused on how good we are at an activity rather than how bad we are at it.Self-criticism is never meant to be your companion. Please stay away fromit. Reasons for low self-esteem (1) Poor academic record. (2) Self-loathing/self-sabotaging commentary. (3) Envisioning the future with pessimism. (4) Raising questions about one’s potential. How can a person transform his low self-esteem into high self- esteem? Gaige gives a detailed account of his initial turbulent life and the subsequent positive changes he made: He was born to alcoholic parents living in Maldives (an enchanted paradise on the equator, a necklace of tiny palm-studded coral islands surrounded by sparkling lagoons), who hurled snide remarks at him, saying, “You are nothing but a dirty, rotten skunk,” “You are only known for your bumbling incompetence,” and “You are a little thief.” And this helpless guy had to bear these taunts without a whimper. After 24 summers of his life had passed, Gaige’s self-esteem was at its nadir. He was crestfallen and emotionally repressed, and he moved with arthritic slowness. At this time, he had nothing to show for his life except his glaring miseries.
Winds of change in Gaige’s life after a few years Gaige is no longer the person he used to be. Let’s reflect on histransformational journey:(1) He trawled through a raft of websites relating to personality development.(2) He sought the help of a good counselor to get rid of mental blocks, fear, and frustration.(3) He attended motivational workshops and seminars. He took their inspiring advice to heart and implemented it into his life. Gaige, through all his efforts day and night, has emergedstronger than ever. He is dead right when he says, “Whoopee, I amon a high!” Self-esteem is an upward or downward spiral. What you doaffects the way you feel. How you feel affects the things you do. Thethings you do affect what you and others think of you, which in turnaffect how you feel about yourself. Close shave with danger There is a close connection between addiction and self-esteem.Let me reveal a scenario about the murky world of alcohol and drugs.When we depend on alcohol, smoking, or drugs, the obvious reasonis to ameliorate anxiety and pain. We seek to revive ourselves byfalling into the enticement of vices. In no way will this chosen routework, however, and what is worse, it will pitchfork us intouncomfortable terrain. Addicts (regarded as the dregs of society) have a lot of fears intheir minds. They are prickly to criticism. Their pain is severe anddeep-rooted. Addicts find it almost impossible to emerge from theshadow of addiction. For them, addictions are the saviors of their life.
The rendezvous with life’s difficulties never ends. However, some people cope up with it in the correct manner, while others give in to alcoholism and other vices. Basically, if we do not believe in ourselves, neither in our capability nor in our goodness, then the universe is a frightening place. Ladies and gentlemen, the ball is in your court! Confession of an actress “I am not happy with my porcelain skin. My belly button piercing hasbecome the butt of jokes for people. The bridge of my nose gives me theheebie-jeebies. My gum line is uneven. I am a petite platinum blondewithout a healthy body image.” For all these reasons, she hates to stand infront of the mirror. She has become her own enemy. This kind of squarelynegative self-perception of her physical appearance is giving her sleeplessnights. Shouldn’t she be avoiding this at all costs? Of course, yes! Feeling repulsed by certain parts of yourself is like declining to viewa rainbow because you are allergic to the color green. If you are fond ofother colors, you can at least accept the green, right? A rainbow would notbe pretty to look at without the color green. If you want to have a healthybody image, you need to accept all parts of yourself. Otherwise, you’ll befighting ridiculous battles day in and day out. In any case, the loser will be“You.” Be shrewd about this. How is self-esteem formed? Let me shed some light upon the development of self-esteem: self- esteem starts in childhood. The kind of messages we are given by our parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, relatives, teachers, peer group, family friends, and role models…carves our esteem. The pivotal idea involved here is, whatever imprints we experience on our minds during our formative years, we will retain throughout our lifetime. In simple and clear terms, if we received positive messages that cheered us on and gave us strength, there will be an increased possibility that we will develop high self-esteem. But if we were snubbed, insulted, and discouraged during our formative years, there is a great possibility we will develop low self-esteem. (Note: Genetic
inheritance also plays a crucial role in shaping a person’s self- esteem.) Do bear in mind that people with high self-esteem can also feel crestfallen at times. But it is just a temporary feeling, and their recovery rate is much faster compared to people with low self- esteem. Self-esteem does not result in enhanced achievement, but achievement results in enhanced self-esteem. In other words, feeling good about myself does not make me smarter. But when I study hard, read between the lines of a poem, or solve an inscrutable math problem, then I feel ecstatic and my self-esteem is justifiably strengthened. You will develop self-esteem by achieving success and makingprogress in the following areas: (a) Physical (attire, fashion statement) (b) Social (network of friends, interactions) (c) Emotional (self-control, feel-good factor) (d) Cognitive (reasoning, perceptual) Envision that you are a chair and that each leg symbolizes an aspect of who you are physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively. Could that chair function in any way if one leg were missing? Can we perform our actions normally if one area of our life is stunted? Nope, not possible! Viewing ourselves in this reversible situation can facilitate us in redefining our priorities, aspirations, and goals. As we begin to understand that we are more than our physical senses, we make an effort to keep all the areas of our life in proper balance. With each area in balance, we can then view self-esteem as originating from something much more significant than our looks, achievements, or the material possessions we have attained. Inarguably, each area will have a say, but none alone establishes our worth. As in the chair example, if one area is off-kilter, it will impair the stability of the whole.
Caveat: We all have to strive to develop a healthy level of self-esteem. Not too much, and not too little. Too much self-esteem can make an individual behave in a cocky manner. Too little can make him become a “soft touch.” With a healthy level of self-esteem, an individual is likely to have a sensible view of his character, ability, and potential. He is less likely to become defensive or aggressive, and less likely to appear flustered, bombastic, or nervous. Healthy self-esteem vs. egoThere are clear-cut, gigantic differences between healthy self-esteem andego. Let me expound on the two terms with maximum finesse:(1) Healthy self-esteem is a calm belief in one’s abilities. Ego entails a feeling of bigheadedness and acting high and mighty.(2) Healthy self-esteem is self-productive. Ego is self-damaging.(3) Healthy self-esteem helps one to have good vibes with other people. Ego results in bad vibes with people.(4) Healthy self-esteem drives us to learn and improve. Ego is all about presuming oneself to be a know-it-all.(5) Healthy self-esteem helps us to reach great heights. Ego makes us fall to great depths. (6) Synonyms for healthy self-esteem: self-regard, self-respect, self-worth,self-admiration, self-satisfaction. Synonyms for ego: arrogance, braggadocio, cockiness, inconsiderateness.
Egoistic Hitler: When Hitler was looking for a driver, he quizzedroughly thirty candidates for the job. He handpicked the shortest man in thegroup and kept him as his personal driver for the rest of his life— despite thefact that the man needed special blocks under the driver’s seat in order to seeover the steering wheel. Phew! Hitler used others as stooges to promote hisown interests. He did not have a kind bone in his body. He was famous forhis chest-thumping. The gospel truth that comes out loud and clear from the abovescenario is healthy self-esteem clearly scores over the ego (10/10 times).Ergo, as a parting shot, I want to reiterate that you should develop healthyself-esteem (a person’s No. 1 friend) over ego (a person’s No. 1 enemy).Thumbs-up to healthy self-esteem, thumbs down to ego! Self-esteem questionnaire Assess your general level of self-esteem by taking this test: Answer the following questions with “Yes” or “No.” (1) Do you have a bottomless belief in yourself? (a) Yes (b) No (2) Are you ready to “bite the bullet” when the cards are stacked against you? (a) Yes (b) No (3) Are you a great proselytizer of positivism? (a) Yes (b) No (4) Do you begin each day on a “fresh note?” (a) Yes (b) No
(5) Do your eyes smolder with jealousy when others achieve more than you in life? (a) Yes (b) No(6) Have you read any Bildungsromans like Dickens’s David Copperfield? (a) Yes (b) No(7) Do you make a petition to God for courage and strength when you find yourself in a tricky situation? (a) Yes (b) No(8) Is faith vital to you? (a) Yes (b) No(9) Do you have easy relationships with family, friends, children, spouse, and relatives? (a) Yes (b) No(10) Are you a loud-mouthed, opinionated bigot? (a) Yes (b) No(11) Do others speak to you in a patronizing tone? (a) Yes (b) No(12) Do you know the modus operandi for making your detractors eat their words? (a) Yes (b) No(13) Are you treated as subservient in a relationship? (a) Yes (b) No
(14) Do you have tyrannical parents? (a) Yes (b) No(15) Are you an out-and-out fault-finder? (a) Yes (b) No