Suppose I feel pretty proud of winning a prize. I feel on top of the world and I want to share my happiness with others.

If others tell me that this prize has no value, or do not reciprocate my happiness, I have two choices:

  1. I can feel terrible because others did not value this prize, and therefore the value of the prize has decreased
  2. As long as I feel good about my achievement, I need not consider others’ valuation.

People with high self esteem value themselves and their achievements and do not care of others’ opinions, unless it is beneficial to them.

On the other hand, people with low self esteem depend on others to give themselves and their achievements some value. They depend on others’ approval. If people tell us we are no good or we did not do good, we feel bad.

Another example of this is how we treat fortune.

If I am a person of low self esteem, then if good things happen to me, I shrug my shoulders and say it was luck. If bad things happen to me, I say it must be my fault.

However, if I was a person with high self esteem, I would be attribute good luck to my efforts and bad luck to fate, that this did not work out.

Therefore, in order to increase self esteem we need to do the following:

  1. Make a list of things that we are good at (skills) and what we have done (achievements). Use our friends to help augment this list. Paste this list to the mirror and read it every day.
  2. Make a list of things we want to achieve and create a glide path. An aeroplane, while landing, has an optimal glide path. If it is descending too rapidly, it may crash; if it is too shallow, it will overshoot the target. If we create a target level of our desire, and the time frame, we create a glide-path. Just like a pilot does course correction based on the numbers on his instrument panel, we need to have some way of measuring if we are on-target and therefore make course corrections. These small successes give us confidence that we will reach the target.
  3. What we are (traits) is not what we do (action). Each action has a consequence. Whenever we act, people will react. Sometimes their reaction is favourable to our cause, and sometimes they are not. If we can control their reaction, we have a better chance of success. But we cannot control everything, since we do not know who will react in which way. Therefore, at best, we can only improve the probability of  our success. Since our success and failure is uncertain, we cannot attribute it to our capabilities and therefore should not feel guilty about it.

The result of this is:

  • increased awareness of our traits,
  • understanding that our traits have nothing to do with our failures and
  • that our value is based on how we see ourselves.
  1. October 5, 2012
    Atanu Mukherji

    An excellent eye opening blog.

    People with high esteem should be self satisfied with their own efforts and achievements and feel good about it, not really considering what others think. Typically that is what I would do.

    I just wanted to opine that high self esteem should be based on concrete achievements and should not border on false vanity or ‘over’ esteem of oneself. We do, however, come across many such, who thrive on baseless ego.

    Unfortunately we also sometimes need some sort of feedback/ acceptance from our society and that is where we do have to depend sometimes on ‘what others think’. A confident person knows, which feedback to accept and which to reject.

    Whenever my own self esteem sometimes fluctuates towards the lower sides, I remember past successes and victories and the self esteem returns immediately.

    It is absolutely correct when you say that failure should never be attributed to one’s competence. During my own longish tenure in my career, so far, I have not succeeded in all my attempts and endeavors. I attribute these failures to wrong timings, situations or just luck, but my competence has remained with me throughout and even got bolstered with passage of time through experience and exposure.

    Chandru, thanks for sharing this. Keep up this good work!!

    • October 5, 2012

      Thank you, sir, for sharing. The unfortunate part of growing up is that we are always compared with other successful persons, hence we get programmed to compare. This creates self esteem issues.


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