In today’s spotlight I wish to discuss self-esteem. By way of definition, or reference with respect to today’s comments, self-esteem “describes a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It s the ‘feeling of self-appreciation’ and is an indispensable emotion for people to adapt to society and live their lives.”
Importance of Self-Esteem
I read a study just yesterday that pointed out the importance of cultivating a strong sense of self-esteem in our youth. I posted this study on my FB page and was surprised by comments that discounted the benefit of self-esteem. However, there has recently been no shortage of books and articles that have attacked the idea as a tool used to create narcissists, egoists, and otherwise vain prideful jerks.
One of the comments on my FB page drew attention to a new book titled, “Rethinking Narcissism.” The underlying theory in this book suggests that one can be too LOW on the narcissism continuum and this thereby contributes to reduced assertiveness. Now just as a reminder, “A narcissistic person is someone who thinks he or she is more important than and superior to other people. Narcissists need to be the center of attention, think they are entitled to special treatment, and have a hard time getting along with others, because they lack empathy.”
We Are Unique
I find the way much of our modern parlance seems to conflate ideas, constructs, and issues amusing sometimes. Think about it for a minute, what is ½ of a narcissist? How about ¼? Are we not all, in some sense, inclined to think of ourselves as special, and isn’t that as it should be? Are we not all taught from the beginning that we are special, if only in the eyes of God? Each of us possess special and unique talents—we have different fingerprints, different DNA, and so forth; so the very fact that we are truly unique gives rise to some sense of specialness. Then we have our unique subjective experiences and interpretations, including all those special ones that defy standard explanations—the type I spoke about last week.
When we read a book, we take away something that is different, no matter how slightly, than someone else who reads the same book. High School students are often confounded by the information literary critics take away from books the students read. How many times has one of your children said something like, “How do they get that out of this?”
Path to Self-Actualization
When you look closely, everything is on a continuum, something like Jeremy Bentham’s Hedonic Calculus; but instead of hedons of pleasure and hedons of pain, we have units of definition and consequently notions such as ½ of narcissism. Here’s the real bottom line, splitting hairs and redefining everything only dims the light that should be shined on the necessity of a healthy self-esteem. When you are confident about yourself, you are far less easily swayed, less vulnerable to group pressure, and therefore much more ready to think and act independently. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the Sheeple approach gains power fastest among those who are lacking in esteem. Not only that, but the fellow who sees the relevance of the herd more important than their own critical thinking will no doubt fall victim to the Genovese Effect, and a host of other socially undesirable behaviors. Indeed, as Maslow pointed out, self-actualization only comes following the acquisition of a healthy sense of self-esteem! My thoughts anyway, what are yours?
As always, thanks for the read and I appreciate your feedback.
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions