I googled self-esteem today. And, you guessed it, hundreds of articles books, websites, tips. Blurhhhh.
How to get it, how to improve it, how to pass it to your kids. 101 ways to use self-esteem in cookery. You know what I mean.
Then I saw one: “forget self esteem…”.
It was the best read by far.
The author postulates that self-esteem is a nice little concept cooked up by society and traded as currency when we feel a bit blue. We all need reasons that we aren’t the shiny happy people we see in movies – so there is something wrong with us. It’s self esteem, yeah! Now we have a plan for being perfect. Get more. Try harder! Reinforce your the best you you can be.
Lately, my self esteem has felt pretty low. I feel unattractive, sad actually some of the time (it took me a while to figure out what the feeling was, since I dont believe I’ve ever really felt it). I feel a lack of confidence in my job, and a lack of confidence in getting a new one. I wonder about my career choice and proposals for change don’t match with my inner desires. Mostly it’s a marketing self esteem disaster. And this from someone with self proclaimed oodles of it just a couple of years ago.
This chick (the one that wrote the article called forget self esteem) reckons self esteem is just our ability to delude ourselves. This made me chuckle. It seems true. We are all sensitive little star-fish and some of us (trump style) are better at pulling the wool (or wig) over our own eyes.
And then I could see that I haven’t lost my self esteem, I have reduced my ability to delude myself, which feels like I have lost self esteem. This is a good data point. Because I see it as a positive and a place to move into and explore.
I can still do everything I thought I could and as well as I did before, I just don’t think it’s as awesome as I used to.
The next thing she noted was that much more important and sustainable than self esteem is his better looking cousin self compassion. Self compassion is the ability to look at your own failings… Hang on here’s what she said:
“Self-compassion is a willingness to look at your own mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding – it’s embracing the fact that to err is indeed human. When you are self-compassionate in the face of difficulty, you neither judge yourself harshly, nor feel the need to defensively focus on all your awesome qualities to protect your ego. It’s not surprising that self-compassion leads, as many studies show, to higher levels of personal well-being, optimism and happiness, and to less anxiety and depression”
That’s what I have oodles of, self compassion. Always have and still do. So now I can look at my new feeling of lack of self-esteem with a new perspective. It’s not bad, it’s a part of my enlightenment process, and it gives me the opportunity to make some better choices.
“People who experienced self-compassion were more likely to see their weaknesses as changeable. Self-compassion – far from taking them off the hook – actually increased their motivation to improve and avoid the same mistake again in the future.”
You literally do my need any self-esteem if you have self-compassion. In fact one might argue-anti Twain-like that an absence of self esteem growing up might be better so as not to suffer it’s loss later.