I spent the last few days thinking deeply about Self Esteem. The Optimist Test (Martin E. Seligman) told me that I have moderately low self esteem, which really got me thinking. I know I am not the most confident person in all situations, and I have really had to push myself to get to the level I am at now. I did many sales jobs to force myself out of shyness. Even today I find myself avoiding tasks that threaten how I feel about myself. Something as simple as making a doctor’s appointment can raise this reaction, forcing me to reassure myself and make the call. Something about phone calling really gets me.
In spite of all this my ambitions include:
- Doing an hour long interview with famous authors I admire and publishing as a podcast
- Becoming an Author
- Becoming a Public Speaker
- Becoming a Business Consultant and Strategist
But why haven’t I done it yet? Why is it a struggle to do the simplest things sometimes?
I thought it was mainly out of a general feeling called ‘fear’ but maybe it has more to do with self esteem.
So what is the solution? After a bit of research, I decided that higher self esteem is not a very good goal. This can lead to self serving bias, when individuals reject the validity of negative feedback, focus on their strengths and achievements but overlook their faults and failures, or take more responsibility for their group’s work than they give to other members, they are protecting the ego from threat and injury, taking the mind further away from reality.
Instead, I discovered Self Acceptance which was recommending for countering low self esteem by psychologist Albert Ellis. This struck a chord with me. I remembered several quotes that I had heard throughout my life that instantly changed my perspective and how I felt about myself.
“You are the child of the universe, no less that the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here” – the Desiderata
“You are only human”, “Everybody makes mistakes” and similar variations.
“You are a spiritual being, having a human experience”
“Do not judge”, this came to me in a dream at the age of 19 when I asked, “how can I improve my life?”
I began to realized that there is a connection between how I think of others, and how I think of myself. I work very hard not to judge others, but this is usually a second thought, the first thought is pure judgement. This happens in a negative and a positive judgement of others. I may judge someone so positively that I am intimidated to talk to them!
During all this thinking I decided to take a walk to the bookstore and see what new great business books are out there. And maybe take a peek to see if they have anything good on Self Esteem too. Working against my ego, I forced myself to picked up “You are not so Smart” by David McRaney, and was glad to discover it’s a book about one of my favorite subjects, cognitive biases. Cognitive Biases are documented counter intuitive errors in thinking that all humans make naturally. It made me realize that we all have the same biases. We all make the same mistakes in thinking. We are really all the same at the core. I wandered away from the Well Being section and over to Business with this thought in mind. I looked at all the books and wondered how I would ever interview these authors. Then I thought, every one of these authors must have felt insecure about their book at one point or another. Just I as feel insecure about my ambitions. There I was, looking at hundreds of books, each representing an author who once felt as I do.
I’m beginning to think that hearing about how special and unique I was when going up, may not have been as useful as learning about how I am similar to everyone else.
Recognizing that we are all the same at the core has the benefit of “equalization”. No one can be a superstar or a thud. Everyone is the same as you. Is this the core of Self – Acceptance or Self Esteem?
Recognizing that everyone, I mean every single human being that has ever lived, and every one on this planet right now, has had these fears, insecurities and doubts at some point in their lives. It’s completely normal. Accept it, and meditate on the thought, “We are all the Same”.
Please leave a comment below I would love to hear your thoughts.