No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent
Eleanor Roosevelt

   Many years ago, depending on my self esteem at the moment I would either see an ugly or a handsome guy looking back at me from the mirror.  Apparently I am not the only person who experiences this.  Amazingly Pamela Anderson has experienced this.  Pamela Anderson was interviewed by Larry King in August of 2005.  She was discovered while watching a football game in a Labatts beer shirt.  The camera zoomed in on her and her picture appeared on the screen for all to see.  The company signed her up to star in their ad campaign.  It wasn't long before she was appearing in playboy.  The amazing thing is that when she saw herself on the screen in the stadium she thought how old she looked.

   In an article titled "Earning Self esteem" (New York Post 1/14/2004) Arnold Ahnert  in a discussion of whether or not standards should be upheld at schools, asked the question "Which comes first "knowledge" or "self esteem".  He wrote:

This is the crux of the issue regarding Mayor Bloomberg's proposal that would force students to repeat the third grade if they fail standardized tests...   Those who who believe the mastering of academic skills leads to self esteem will have much to cheer.  Those who believe self esteem must be nurtured before any learning can take place will be highly disappointed.

The mentality that has held sway for decades in NYC public schools is that self-esteem can literally be given to a child - as opposed to that child earning it. 

   Although self esteem is important, it's important not to lower standards in order to enhance self esteem.  If the child keeps being pushed to higher grades when he hasn't mastered the lower one's he is unlikely to master the material in those grades and when he graduates high school he is unlikely to be able to do well in the real world.  If a child really can't master the work, he can still have high self esteem if he doesn't judge himself harshly for his lack of ability.

   A lot of misery results from

  1. The way people judge themselves unfairly and in so doing hurt their own self esteem.
  2. The way people incorrectly conclude that others have a low regard for them.
  3. The ways people use to restore their self esteem.

   An example of judging oneself unfairly is concluding that one is a failure and incompetent when one doesn't perform up to one's standards at work.

   An example of drawing incorrect conclusions regarding the attitude of other people is believing that if they don't do what one wants them to do that means they have a negative attitude toward oneself.

   Harmful ways that people use to protect their self esteem include

   There is room for improvement in everyone's behavior.   If a person protects his self esteem by convincing himself that he always does the right thing he will never recognize what changes he should make.  Anyone in a relationship with such a person is likely to be unhappy.  

   If people, in order to protect their self esteem, convince themselves that those they disagree with are bad, they are likely to become angry at them. The relationship between low self esteem and anger is discussed on the anger page of this web site.

   People often convince themselves they are entitled to things because they want them and as a result get angry at those who stand in the way of them getting those things.  If one boosts one's self esteem by convincing oneself one is superior it is a small step to thinking one is entitled.  Then one is unlikely to appreciate what others do for oneself since one believes one is entitled to those things and they should do it.  In addition one may become a controlling person who makes demands on others. 

   Anyone who uses the defenses listed above is likely to become unpopular which at least transiently will hurt their self esteem, but they are likely to further defend their self esteem with the same defenses thus creating a vicious cycle.

 

Low Self Esteem

Others develop a low opinion of oneself.

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Harmful defenses. Consider oneself superior to others.  Become angry at those who make constructive criticisms.

Restored Self Esteem combined with obnoxious behavior

 

    When I was a child other children rejected me.   The low self esteem, paranoia and pessimism that resulted created vicious cycles which led me toward mental illness. 

    Rejection can affect our self esteem and create paranoia.  Whether or not rejection lowers our self esteem depends on how we explain the rejection to ourselves.  If we say to ourselves that we are being rejected because we are repulsive then rejection lowers our self esteem.  If we say we are being rejected because other people are bad in some way (and we are wrong) than rejection is more likely to lead us to feel paranoia.  Once we feel paranoia we are likely to reject those we feel paranoia towards and that will create a vicious cycle leading to more rejection from others.

    I know attractive nice people who are rejected by their peers. Their peers are not particularly bad.  A nice person who is rejected by people who are not bad, may be rejected because he is suffering from depression or because he lacks social skills.  Probably the area where most unmarried people face rejection is in courting the opposite sex.  The dating section of this web site has a discussion of what some people do wrong and has suggestions for those cases as to how they could improve their social skills.  If we view rejection as a result of poor social skills on our part and not because of people being bad then we are not likely to feel paranoia and our self esteem may not be hurt too much and we may be motivated to work on improving our social skills. 

    Our self esteem is often tied to our success in overcoming the problems that we face.  Problems often are composed of many subproblems and it is often impossible to predict how many of these subproblems exist and how difficult or time consuming it will be to fix them. Feeling low self esteem because one cannot fix them within a desired time period means one is blaming oneself when it may be the problems themselves and have nothing to do with oneself.  One may be doing a good job considering the problems one is dealing with. We can boost our self esteem by focussing on the things we did right at work and on our accomplishments.

    Inability to overcome problems fast enough for one's work supervisor can create a lot of anxiety.  Anxiety can lead to constantly worrying about one's performance.  Since dwelling on failure leads to low self esteem and anxiety increase the amount of time one thinks about one's failure, anxiety indirectly can lead to low self esteem.   

    Is one's self worth related to how well one solves problems?   When we have problems with self esteem we our dealing with a philosophical issue, which is what is our value?  The philosophical issue of value is discussed in the Philosophy Section.   Most of us have an intrinsic value whether or not we successfully contribute to society.  Most of us contribute in many ways unrelated to our work such as through our friendship or love for others.      When I'm down on myself my wife tells me "Don't say that about the man I love". What a wonderful way to help my self esteem. Love is a great healer of self esteem.  For my wife  I have value even if I can't solve problems as fast as I would like.  

   Although we may not be as valuable as someone who contributes more to the welfare of society that doesn't mean we are not very valuable.   The person who contributes more derives value from contributing to people like us.   His value comes from the fact that the people whose welfare he contributes to are valuable.  Feeling low self esteem is generally harmful to our own welfare.   Our life takes on more value when we value ourselves and feel high self esteem since then we are improving our own welfare.

    Self esteem is one of the pillars of mental health.   This is discussed further in the emotional category section.

 

c o p y r i g h t   ( c )   1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises.  All rights reserved

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