Self-esteem has been a heavily emphasized topic over the past decades.A person who has low self-worth will often become depressed or perhaps use substances more readily. Discovery Fit and Health has an online self-esteem test where you can determine how you rate your self-image.
I remember growing up and my parents would say things like, “we don’t want to give our kids a big head and have them become spoiled brats.” My parents were decent, loving, hard-working people; however, our household didn’t offer much encouragement or praise. Despite growing up without lots of kudos, I learned to love and accept myself and develop relatively high self-esteem. Additionally, my low-praise, Midwestern upbringing caused me to develop a high sense of modesty. Showing too much confidence or arrogance was a major turn off. Ironically Psychology Today wrote an article regarding how self-esteem doesn’t make individuals better people. In fact since more kids are getting told that they are wonderful despite noteworthy actions, they are getting an unbalanced sense of self – leading to narcissistic behavior. The article states:
Baumeister’s Scientific American article, in addition to both challenging and largely discrediting the existing research on self-esteem, also demonstrated that artificially boosting self-esteem actually lowers performance. Further, high self-esteem was found to have no positive correlation with a person’s ability to have successful relationships. Quite to the contrary, Baumeister writes, “Those who think highly of themselves are more likely than others to respond to problems by severing relations and seeking other partners.”
An inflated ego often causes individuals to show less empathy for others and respond arrogantly with a sense of entitlement that may be unrealistic. The article states that today’s kids are “a generation whose self-perception appears to be wildly distorted.”
So what’s the balance? Perhaps obtaining respect for yourself and others versus sole focus on over developing the self. As another article in Psychology Today stated, “To esteem anything is to evaluate it positively and hold it in high regard, but evaluation gets us into trouble because while we sometimes win, we also sometimes lose. To respect something, on the other hand, is to accept it.”
An example of self-respect is doing the things you love to do despite your ranking on the hierarchy of comparisons. I love to dance. I am a good dancer; however, many others are much better. I respect my own ability, continue to learn and grow and admire others on the various stages of the continuum. I don’t stop dancing because I am not the best. I don’t allow discouraging judgments of others to halt my passion. Instead I try to surround myself with positive and encouraging people and work to be that type of person for others.
The bottom line, when you have self-respect, you look for the good in others and accept yourself and others. So next time you look in the mirror remember this affirmation: “the good I see in others is a reflection of the good in me.” Perhaps this can be a simple start to help us develop universal respect.
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