Self-Esteem in a Nutshell
SELF ESTEEM IN A NUTSHELL
When I started this whole journey my main goal was learning to talk to other people, to get out of my shell and conquer my shyness, especially around women. I never for a second thought that I would learn as much as I did or meet as many amazing people that I have.
What I learned is that as my Confidence rose, my Self Esteem grew as well. In the process I’ve learned that the concept of Self Esteem is EASILY as important as any of the other 6 pillars which this blog stands on. Self Esteem as a word has become quite muddled in our modern culture, as a society, we tend to barbarize our language.
We find new ways to speak almost to the point where we can’t quite understand each other when we walk so far as a block because different areas have developed a different dialect. So it comes as no surprise to me that we have managed to make Self Esteem lose its definition, as most people believe that it’s simply another word for having confidence. Which honestly isn’t too far off the mark.
But there is indeed a distinct difference between the two words. If Confidence is the concept of having value and believing in yourself, Self Esteem is actually having value in your place in society, and believing that you’re indeed good enough for other people. It’s actually quite easy to see why people have gotten it mixed up, but nonetheless, it’s important that I Clarify what Self Esteem is before we get into the long article.
WHY IS SELF ESTEEM SO IMPORTANT?
In a strange way one could almost view Self Esteem as just a branch of being confident, thereby causing some people to view it as being less important then the other pillars in the blog. Personally, I view them as parallel in importance, I’ve seen way too many people that have had one or the other and no where near enough people with both.
If you have Confidence but not Self Esteem, you’ll find that you feel confident on your own. You might have faith in your abilities when you’re not surrounded by people, or maybe you just feel like an introvert or a loner. Regardless, all that bluster runs out of steam as soon as you encounter other people, you clam up and scuttle away out of fear. Maybe you suddenly become a different person, and try to hide who you really are because of a fear of rejection.
Self-Esteem means the exact opposite, if you have a lot of Self Esteem but not a lot of Confidence, you essentially feel useless when you’re by yourself. It almost feels like incompetence at times, but as soon as other people are around you brighten up and feel happy. One thing to note is that if you have low self esteem, you might actually go through the opposite, you might be chatty and outgoing in nature rather then quiet, But I imagine that’s confusing to hear.
Let me explain, Sometimes when people don’t have a large amount of Self Esteem they go through something similar to the theory of POIC (Polar Opposite Internal Compensation). Basically, they change who they are and how they act just so people can’t say that they are who they normally are. In other words, they put on a mask.
They try to impress the people around them and gain their approval. They get so wrapped up in a lie, so wrapped up in a mask that they almost lose who they are! And Why? Because they can’t see how many people can not only see through the mask, but love that person for who they really are, not who they pretend to be. These people are often charismatic without trying, but they can’t see anything past the few people who don’t like them.
What most people don’t realize is that while your mask might be good for entertainment, what people want to see is the real you. With High Self-Esteem, you find that your relationships with other people go so much deeper. There’s a much stronger connection built, because of vulnerability you show when you reveal to somebody who you truly are.
More then that, when people spend too much time around other people and leave the mask on for too long, they often times start to lie to themselves about who they are, which can lead to a whole mess of internal and psychological issues that as you get older. The higher the self esteem, the healthier your mindset and the better off you are.
THE MIRROR EFFECT
A bit of a startling discovery that I found recently, is that if you’re starting from the bottom of the barrel, no Confidence and no Self Esteem, you might just experience what is known as a mirror effect. It took me a long time to realize that it actually had happened, but the process for building strong confidence does link itself to the process of building of strong Self Esteem. Therefore, it can actually create a mirror effect when you start to work on your Social Development. This took me a while to realize simply because I, like many others, always thought the two words meant the same thing.
Because we have two concepts that are opposite, and yet eerily similar to each other, you’ll find that the processes in which we use to develop both of these concepts are similar. Both also lie mostly in the past, but as I’ll explain shortly, you’ll find that Self Esteem also takes elements of your life as it is now, which also means has it focus a little bit on the present!
THE FOUR STEP TANGO
The easiest way in my opinion to break down the process of gaining these things that I’ve been explaining to you on this website, is to break down each element of developing the process, in this case Self-Esteem, and create a corresponding step that allows you to better understand the process as a whole. When you think on topics, it eases the mind to see several steps with small elements rather then one large wall of information, makes it easier to commit to. It just seems easier to digest instead of trying to explain the full theory as a whole, so to help here, let’s do the Four Step Tango to learn the easiest way that I’ve found to develop Self-Esteem.
Take an afternoon and think about your life
This first step by far takes the longest, so personally I would dedicate a full afternoon to this one. Go to a state park on a Saturday Afternoon, and go by yourself. Don’t take anything mind-altering, no drugs or alcohol (they impair our judgment too much) and just think about your life.
It’s easiest for us to think on ourselves if there’s no distractions or interruptions. I want you to analyze the relationships you’ve built, the friends you made, and the connection you have with people around you. When you analyze your relationships with them, notice how those that have stayed around you know who you truly are under that murky water that you present to everyone else. These people have broken down your walls and call you out on when you'[re not being true.
More then that, those that are still by your side have usually seen you when you are at your lowest as well. Even bothering to put a front to these people generally causes nothing more then a laugh or a cross word.
But what happens with all of those people that you only showed the mask to? Are those people by your side at all these days? Not generally no, often times they’ve just moved on elsewhere. People don’t appreciate being lied to, that’s all you mask is, a lie.
You don’t act true to yourself, and because people are remarkably bad liars, people pick up on it quite easily. If you think on what it feels like to be lied to by someone, you can even understand where they’re coming from. If you make the decision to abandon the mask, even if you start off unsure and shy, people will be attracted to your willingness to show your vulnerability. A trait like that is a humbling experience for many people, especially the new friends that you’ll find yourself making quite easily.
Like the quote of this article suggests, sometimes you’re so focused on the people that don’t like you, that sometimes you forget the people who love you.
At one point in my life when I was much younger, I’d somehow built shallow friendships with a bunch of bullies. When the veil had been lifted and I realized what I’d done, I immediately went up to all the kids I used to bully and said I’m sorry. And for a little while I became friends with them.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, maybe a fresh new face is a great place to go. Someone who hasn’t fallen for the mask or ripped through purposefully.
As a side note, if an afternoon isn’t enough time, set aside more time. When I need to get away from everything, I go to northern Michigan and use my parents cabin for the weekend, it’s nice to have a short retreat…
Set Rational Expectations For Yourself
The best way to take this path is to make sure that it’s something that you take in steps. None of the things I preach on this blog are an overnight thing, there’s no “quick fix” that will show you how to just create or discover the real you in a day. You have to be willing to create the time for it, after all, all of this stuff is intensely personal and it truly is a personal journey.
I can never remember who said it, but it isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey. Don’t overwhelm yourself by set grand expectations like “I’m going to have an amazing social life with parties at penthouses and a houseboat and Oompa Lompas all within a month of my starting this…”. Believe me when I say all you’re going to get is a huge amount of disappointments.
Start small, smaller expectations that are much more reasonable in the short-term. Start with “I’m going to make a new friend, and strengthen the ones that mean the most to me by revealing a little more about myself this week”. Take it from there, it’s manageable and small, so your mind isn’t quite as likely to just run for the hills.
But how do you go about figuring out if a goal you’d like to set next is too much at this point? Personally I believe that is a matter of Time, Confidence, and Skill level. You want to find a middle ground between selling yourself short, and reaching too far, which is a judgment call. Luckily you can all the time you need to discover what your limits are, so don’t be afraid to push.
While playing it too easy will make you lose interest, trying for something that can’t be done realistically will make you give up, and both of those things will detract you from your goal. The challenge is to push yourself with each passing day, so play it a little unsafe, and give yourself a goal that your not entirely sure you can accomplish. But make sure it’s something you’d like to try.
For instance, say you’ve gain some ease with taking off the mask, try revealing to your friend an intense secret about yourself that they hadn’t know? Or telling a newer friend something personal that very few people know, thereby showing your vulnerability. Push yourself a little more each time you set a new goal, and you’ll be right as rain!
Stop Trying to be Perfect
Honestly this one is a big one for me. Stop trying to be perfect to everybody, it’s not going to happen, you’ll find yourself stretched too thin because of one epitomizing fact. Everybody’s vision of perfect is different and you’re not going to be able to please everyone so honestly, why try?
This is a huge element of Self-Esteem, don’t continuously try to live up to others expectations of what you should or shouldn’t do, this is your life, live it the way you want to. Don’t be afraid to live outside the bounds of normal society, some will call you eclectic, others will call you quirky, but anyone who knows you best will just know that that’s who you truly are. What you should realize by now is that when you try to live life by everyone else’s rules, you cheat yourself out of discovering who you are.
Don’t listen to those who try to force you into a specific role, it isn’t fair to you. In the end each of us has to find out who we truly are without the help of others, it’s a personal journey, your journey.
If you have a lot of relationships that define you as someone you’re not, you should cut them out. The easiest way to tell if someone is forcing you into a role, or your aren’t acting in a way that is synonymous with who you really are, is to actually hangout with that person.
Except when you do, truly analyze the way you feel. If you feel like the friendship is one sided or you feel like they only want something from you, or your uncomfortable with the activities you two do together, you should truly consider giving up that relationship, as the chances are you’re going to be better off elsewhere.
Step out from behind the curtain
Stepping out from behind the curtain, after you’ve taken a look at your life, started setting rational expectations for yourself and started cutting out the poisonous relationships, now’s the time to truly step out from behind the curtain. Start showing who you are to the people who you surround yourself with.
Start being true to you, and nobody else. Is this going to create some havoc within your personal relationships? Yes, without a doubt. But that’s okay! You’re showing people who you truly are.
Some people are going to rejoice and encourage you, because they love you and you matter to them. Most times, these are people who have figured out who you truly are without you even having to show them! These are your true friends, these are the people who you know have your back, the people who’ll push you and hold you accountable for everything that you want to accomplish, your best friends!
And believe me, these are also the people you’ll find yourself going to when you need advice and the people who’ll be there when you find yourself struggling. Your family, the one you’ve created.
But of course, you also find some people who don’t like the fact that you aren’t the person they thought you were. You’re definitely better without these people. In my experience, I’ve found that these people are definitely better left alone.
They aren’t confident and usually combative, they want to bring you down so they feel better about themselves. You’re free and unabashedly true to one person and one person only…You! If they don’t like, then it’s their loss.
Perspective, Rationality, Journeying, and Honesty. those are the four things you need to have true High Self-Esteem!
A thought that’s been on my mind a lot lately has been why do people who have so much to give, develop Self Esteem issue. I haven’t found anything definitive that doesn’t rely heavily on psychology, and I prefer to get down to brass tax, mostly because I don’t have a degree in psychology. I believe that the core reason why we have such a difficult time developing Self-Esteem naturally, is the fact that we live in a society that unintentionally beats down the members that make up its being.
That’s relatively vague I know, so let me expand on it. The way that we’ve allowed ourselves to just float through society is a rather normal occurrence, because as we look around us, everybody seems to be doing the same thing. You wake up each morning, go to a job where often times your berated from even the smallest things, and any sense of individuality just vanishes over a lengthy period of time.
After your 8 hour long job you go home, stare into a television at dds that all say that you need to look, or act a certain way for us to fit in. Even before we join society as adults modern day schooling develops our minds to act a certain way, to fall in line, to not question anything or else we’re punished, and to fear repercussions even if another member of our system decides to bully us.
The human mind is a powerful thing, and if we’re constantly subjected to years and years of abuse, of just being beaten down by society it teaches out brains to fit in. To keep our heads down, and just be what society needs us to be, no matter what. That mindset right there is upsetting, it’s almost depressing as you can actually see people falling more and more into that mindset each day.
It’s how our entire country has framed itself, it isn’t looking for self efficient humans who want to be who they are, they want workers who don’t question what they’re told to do. workers, not people. So then if our entire culture is based around building worker ants, could you imagine what it would feel like to truly be yourself?
Just for one moment, leave the necessity of being worried that others don’t approve of who you are? The best way to say it, is to say that it’s completely freeing. You feel yourself indulging in whatever you want, and for each new skill you pick up from your new endeavors, you also develop a huge set of friends that love you for who are genuinely, because you had the desire to show them as such.
If you show these people who you truly are without fear of repercussion because you have the knowledge that if they didn’t like your life is just as good anyways, it emits an aura that draws people to you like a fly to a bug zapper. If you really think about it, when you develop High Self Esteem the people around notice, and are much open to you because your comfortable being yourself. The easiest comparison I have to use is this…
Clark Kent AKA Superman. We know him firstly as superman, as the hero who saves that day time and again. People see him without his mask, being who he truly is, and we trust him because of that. When he isn’t off saving the world he adopts Clark Kent, who people look down upon and view in a completely different manner. The world opens itself for Superman being who he REALLY is. So go for it, go be Superman.