Why The “Self-Help Brigade” Have It Wrong
…And why they’re ALL looking in the wrong direction. Why? Well, self-esteem is merely a measurement of mood (or state of mind) – nothing more, nothing less. And I shall share less than 550 words to help you see that…
About Self-Esteem (About You)
To establish true self-esteem we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives.
– Denis Waitley
Let’s create a measurement system to measure where we’re at in any particular moment. Let’s create values (symptoms of low self esteem) to use for that measurement system. Let’s decide to focus on the symptoms that indicate a low mood or poor state of mind, and let’s ignore all those symptoms that indicate our innate wellness and mental healthiness.
Introducing… the notion of (low) self-esteem, then. (Tada!)
(Yes, this same set of measurements can apply to symptoms of high self-esteem too, but seems those folks ‘livin it large’ don’t seem to mind that they’re similarly acting out of character, at times.)
Self-esteem, then – at least the way the self-help and positive psychology advocates have it defined – is some kind of ‘perfect living’ monster that ALL behaviours must be measured against.
Poor behaviour, then – conscious or otherwise – means something must be done. (Enter stage left, top 10 tips for improving self esteem.)
The truth about poor behaviour – yours, mine, theirs – is very much different, though. Poor behaviour means either not knowing any better or not being able to do any better in this moment
- Poor behaviour means poor state of mind.
- Low self esteem means lost self.
- Found self means loving action.
- Loving behaviour means high state of mind.
I Didn’t Always See Things This Way
And I write all this as an ex-fan-boy of the “boost your self-esteem” brigade. I write all this because there is a better way. I write all this as chasing down symptoms (of low self-esteem) rather than the source is a strange form of madness, it really is.
Imagine I have a temperature. Does it simply mean that I’m physically unwell and rest and recuperation is the best thing for me? Or is something more sinister afoot, does it mean I’m broken in some way, and the next thing I should do – and do it fast, before anyone notices – is chase down the 5 tips to lowering your temperature.
Self-Esteem: A Symptom, Not The Source
I have experienced ALL of the so-called symptoms of low-self esteem.
If you are human, then I bet the same can be said of you.
What to do, then, when we’re being less than we can be?
Hmm, as soon as I decide to look inside for the answers (via the Inside Out understanding of the human experience – aka The 3 Principles), then I decided to look inside. I decided to understand myself better, notice my moods more and the low or high state of thinking I was in, and notice the types of behavours I was more or less likely to demonstrate.
Now whether you’re aware of this Inside Out understanding or not, chances are – if you’re a reasonably balanced person, if you’re comfortable in your own skin – that this is what you do too: you notice that you’re ‘off’ in some way, and you make your apologies and maybe keep out of the way of others, until this moody moment passes.
Chances are you realise that moods come and moods go, that they are not who you are, just who you can be.
Chances are you get this. Chances are you see that this is true of others. Chances are you don’t take your low behaviour that personally, or theirs either.
So, yes, Self-esteem IS a measurement system, it really is. But it’s measuring your mood, your state of mind, and nothing much else…
3 Minute Heroes Video
Here’s what came to me as I shared my thoughts on self-esteem during a 3 Minute Heroes video I recorded in December, 2014:
A Coaching Conversation Might Help
Reading blog posts is good. Watching videos is good, too. But sometimes having a meaningful conversation about the issue you're experiencing is best. To experience a transformative coaching conversation where you get to ask YOUR questions, and to experience YOUR insights. Well, I can help you with that...