Self-Esteem: The Invisible Price Tag

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2011 by stevelifecoach

What is self-esteem? What are we talking about when we say that someone has low or high self-esteem? How does it differ from self-confidence? What are the dangers of low self-esteem? Self esteem is the level of value that we place upon ourselves. The difference between self-esteem and self-confidence is that the former is a passive value and the latter is an active value. While our self-confidence tells us what we can and cannot do, our self-esteem tells us what we do and do not deserve.

As the two qualities are different, it is possible to have low self-esteem and high self-confidence, which is generally a dangerous situation for us.  In this case, we believe that we have many talents and abilities, but we do not feel that we deserve to take advantage of these qualities because we do not deserve the fruits that come from our efforts. When this imbalance occurs, we find ourselves living in a world in which everything we plan is pure fantasy. We believe we could achieve anything given the opportunity, but we never make our own opportunities and we certainly never act when an opportunity presents itself.

When self-esteem is high, but self-confidence is low, it is often dangerous for others. People with this imbalance usually blame the world around them for their failures. They know they are talented, interesting people, but they just can’t understand why others cannot see it. They have no idea what to do with themselves and conclude that it must be the fault of others for not giving them a chance, so they tend to become resentful, vindictive, and often manipulative.    

Imagine that everyone has an invisible price tag. Only you know what you are worth and only you can mark yourself up or down. Others may try to tell you what you are worth, but you are the only one who is capable of changing your price.  When someone gives you negative criticism, you can choose to merely take the criticism as indication of a need for improvement, or you can reject it as unfair and unfounded. It either case, your sense of self-worth is unaffected. However, if you decide that the criticism is a broad statement about the kind of person you are, then you may react by marking yourself down.

Maintaining a healthy sense of self-worth is vital, because the consequences of low self-esteem are tragic. There is a word for those with a low price: Cheap. Being cheap means that we are willing to allow ourselves to be anything to anyone without receiving anything of value in return. We do not expect to be treated with respect, because we do not feel that we deserve it. By not valuing ourselves we leave ourselves open to abuse and neglect. We allow others to treat us badly, because we are willing to offer what little we believe we have for next to nothing.

Not only does a low value cause us to give ourselves away to anyone or any situation, but it also causes us to behave in a way that alienates us from the good people we should have in our lives. Low self-esteem causes us, on a basic level, to lie, cheat, and steal. We lie, because we do not see what we have and what we do as being worthwhile, so we make up achievements that do not exist. We learn with time to either become very good liars or to suffer loss of trust when we are caught in lies.

If we learn to become good liars, then we may move on to cheating—in both senses of the word. We may cheat by claiming responsibility for someone else’s work because we do not believe that we have the ability to do quality work ourselves. We may also cheat by being unfaithful to our loved one, because with our self-worth being damaged, we feel that we need as many people as possible to tell us that we are handsome, beautiful, sexy, etc. and the one person who truly loves us and finds us desirable is not enough to make us feel good about the people we are.

Finally, those with low self-esteem will steal. We may feel compelled to do this because we perceive a lack ability to achieve and so we opt to take what others have. In the worst case, some of us may turn to drugs or gambling in order to self-medicate ourselves into feeling better or to give us a false feeling of hope, and then we will resort to stealing in order to support a habit.

Luckily, damaged self-esteem is fairly easy to repair. When we lose self-confidence, it often takes us months, if not years, of therapy to restore, but we can boost our self-esteem at any time. One way is to think of someone we love and care about, be it a parent, child, spouse, best friend, etc.,  and then to think about what it is that we want most for them: Good health? An education? A happy relationship? We are expected to wish these things for others without ever thinking that we need to have them ourselves first. In fact, we cannot expect those we love to eat better and exercise, for example, when we are not taking care of our own health. Any small improvements go along way toward bettering our self-image.

Another way to improve our self-esteem is to have a long-term goal and to put our greatest effort behind achieving it. A long-term goal does not need to be realistic; it only needs to be something you can envision.  What are important are the journey and the steps we that we take. Our success is measured by how many obstacles we overcome, not by how many prizes we have won. If we never reach your goal, it is not a sign of failure; the steps we have taken toward our goals are what matter. On that journey, we have made improvements, have learned much about ourselves, and have undergone positive changes in the pursuit of a dream.

If you are feeling low, then sit down and make a list of the changes you would like to make and then write a plan for how to can make those changes. Let nothing and no one deter you. Even the best of friends will often tell you that you should be happy with the status quo and that you only need to adjust your attitude, and they certainly mean well, but the only reliable way to feel better about ourselves is to set off down the road which ends with the vision of the people we want to be. The journey toward that goal is what matters the most.

Advertisements

In Support of the Prevention of Teen Bullying

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2010 by stevelifecoach

I had nothing purple to wear.

I’d checked my whole wardrobe and even the accessories, but I had nothing. Perhaps it was for the best, because, let’s face it, I am not one to do what everyone else is doing, so why start now? But also I have never believed in empty symbolic gestures. A gesture is fine if it is also backed up by action, but how many of us will now take an active part in preventing bullying of gay teenagers and how many really care? How many can recognize it when they see it? How many know how to react or what steps to take if they do witness it?

I grew up gay, but this is not what I was harassed or bullied for. I was just weird, silent, with odd habits and obsessions. I did not know how to make conversation or how to make friends. Most of the time, I didn’t bother, which then made it all my own fault, because I was obviously just unfriendly. I knew other kids my age who were probably gay and they had a circle of friends. They may have been harassed and bullied, but they had one or two good friends to turn to for support. I had no one, except maybe my sister who had enough problems of her own to deal with.

I was extremely lonely by high school. I wanted to die every day for most of my teen years. My teachers thought I was very bright, just lazy. As long as I was smart there was nothing wrong with me. I blamed myself for my isolation; there certainly must have been something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what it was and whatever it was, it was my fault for not being able to deal with it. When I became an adult and after I came out as gay, I thought it was supposed to “get better,” but it didn’t. I was happily out and gay, but I was still lonely, I could not develop friendships, and I was still bullied and easily intimidated, but now by coworkers instead of other students. I did not find out until many years later that I had an undiagnosed form of autism.

What we need to remember is that no one should be bullied harassed, exploited, or beaten due to being different in any way. All of us are different and if not, we should strive to be something apart, to be proud of our individuality. We should be proud of the unique qualities that make each one of us who we are and we should be proud to know others who are of an age, or race, or religion, or sexual orientation, etc. that is different from our own, because that is one way we learn and grow. We learn by experiencing the differences in other people. It does get better. Life gets better, if we want it to, but only if we are true to ourselves and only if we can proudly tell others just who we are.

The Future

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 by stevelifecoach

I think you remember as well as I do the vision of the future that was presented to us from a very early age. After all, I think it was the same vision, more or less, since the World’s Fair of 1939 when it was all considered a matter of comfort and convenience. It was the same vision described thirty years later in more sinister terms in Zane and Evans’ song “In the Year 2525.” It’s roughly the same in any science fiction flick, with the exception of those with an apocalyptic vision and in that case, you may be washing your own underwear in creek with a rock in a few years.

However, the image of the future we are most presented with is one in which high technology will take over and run our lives. Everything will operate as fast as that technology can make it run. Artificial intelligence will become our babysitters. We will all get to sit around on our asses, hooked up to wires, and stair blankly into monitors. We will have very little interpersonal contact as we talk to each other on transmitter/receiver devices. Our food will come to us ready-made in little boxes and we will listen to news reports of genetic engineering and a war with no clear exit strategy. The government will lie to us repeatedly through video machines and we will fiercely defend our great leader, no matter how corrupt or incompetent with smiles on our faces–a result of medication readily distributed to keep us happy when we’re down.

By all indications, that world, a cross between The Jetson’s and George Orwell’s 1984, has already arrived. Sure, we’re not flying through the air in shiny hovercrafts, but if we only look at how most people handle an ordinary car, we should be thankful they aren’t in the sky or we’d all be dodging shrapnel. Now if only we could think of some clever uses for our aging population a la Soylent Green, we’d save so much on health care. The way things have been going we should just cut everyone off at thirty a la Logan’s Run. In our current culture, if you are over thirty, you might as well be dead anyway.

Scientists claim we are far away from ever creating a computer like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a computer that’s dangerously smarter than we are. Yet, about half of all college students in any class can’t finish writing a paper without a spelling or grammar checker, even though the grammar checker is wrong more often than not and the spell checker doesn’t understand homophones. I can’t think of anything more dangerous.

There has been no Andromeda Strain as yet, but for the last few years we have been kept in a continual panic over one possible pandemic or another, be it mad cow disease or bird flu and, of course, they’ve kept AIDS dangling over our heads for thirty years now. We have also seen a recent spate of deaths at theme parks. Disneyworld becomes Westworld for the kiddies. And with everything we’ve been finding trapped in amber, can a Jurassic Park be far behind?

I, myself, am almost entirely technologically illiterate and I feel very comfortable with that. I like actually buying CDs. I like the feel and smell of music. I like having liner notes to read. All I want to know about my computer is how to run the programs I need everyday and how to defrag it after I delete a lot of useless crap. That’s enough for me. I don’t care for cell phones. I get somewhat skittish when a lone stranger walks up behind me, starts up with, “Hi, how have you been? Finally caught you!” and its not directed at anyone in the room. Kind of unsettling, you know. Nevertheless, as time goes on, I increasingly feel that I need to catch up, at least a little bit. I’ve already been accused of being an inconvenient for others. Jeez. Come on…. “Jane, stop this crazy thing!”

True Love

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2010 by stevelifecoach

I am a romantic and for that I will never be ashamed or apologize. True love is that for which we should fight. If this were not true, then there would be no poetry, no romance novels, no tales of chivalrous knights on quests. I love and therefore I live. Love which catches us spellbound and leaves us breathless should never die. To let true love die is the ultimate shame and an insult to God.

A true love is that which begins with overwhelming feeling and then continues long after all the telltale signs of infatuation have passed. This is why fighting to save love is often so necessary. We are often too immature to be able to continue to love past end of the breathlessness, yet we wish love to last to the end of our lives. Many of us abandon love after the fluttering hearts and flowers have seemed to have disappeared, instead of remembering that they are always there to call back at any moment.

Falling in love is not a game for youth, but a life-long process of maturation. To find that we love someone is to discover truth, to learn trust, and to realize what is valuable in ourselves.