You’ve heard much about self-esteem. Most of it wrong I might add. A dozen daily articles in the CONTENTS page have ‘self-esteem’ in the title and explain the complexities. No need exists to duplicate them. Self-esteem plays only a recoverable role for a woman morphing herself from adolescence to adulthood.
A woman’s subconscious mind is hard wired with self-esteem but self-image and self-interest are programmable software. The latter two of the trio change in response to daily pressures and especially self-talk. They also change to compensate and recover from low self-esteem, which is the main theme for today.
Self-esteem (aka self-worth) is how a woman likes herself primarily as a person and secondarily as a female. (I use the term ‘likes herself’ as the all-inclusive base for like, love, respect, and appreciate.)
Self-esteem hardwires during infancy before her conscious mind opens to reveal that she’s a person too and long before she recognizes her gender identity. Hardwiring occurs in response to how caregivers treat her. Treated as highly valued and wanted by those around her, her self-esteem turns toward the high end of the spectrum. Treated as unwanted and not highly valued, and her self-esteem will be low. In either case, she has that permanent level of self-esteem for life. Improvements to it will be temporary as shown in what follows below.
If she has low self-esteem, she spends her life finding ways to like herself more. The lower her self-esteem, the more drastically or radically she acts unusual or unnaturally. When she does do something that makes her like herself, it’s temporary. Tomorrow she’ll seek another ‘fix’ and it may include drugs. Low self-esteem generates the endless pursuit of self-appreciation and fruitless pursuit of self-importance.
If her self-esteem is high, she doesn’t waste time trying to appreciate herself better. She already likes herself as both person and female. Just liking herself sustains the present day with self-confidence and a strong sense of self-importance. Her future brightens with possibilities unknown to women with low self-esteem.
Girls spend their teen years trying to like themselves more. The lower their self-esteem, the poorer job they do. The poorer the job, the more likely they enter physical adulthood with an adolescent mentality. This means that if they could only elevate their self-esteem, they would mature better. That much is true, but they can’t permanently raise their self-esteem, so they are better off learning how to inflate self-esteem temporarily, reliably, and believably.
Think of elevating your self-esteem three ways: momentarily, temporarily, and semi-permanently.
Momentarily. A girl with the lowest self-esteem faces wolves seeking to devour her. Dislike of Self is severe and too uncomfortable. She can’t wait to make herself feel better about herself. Internalizing too much, she sees no rewards in deferred gratification. So, she far too easily falls for immediate gratification, boyfriend lies, drugs, and promiscuity. She never sees that she can like herself more by gazing just a little farther into the future.
Girls with high self-esteem more easily avoid those dilemmas and destructiveness. They more easily dedicate themselves to the future.
Temporary is good. Regardless of a woman’s self-esteem, high or low, she promotes her interests by improving her self-image. For example, raise her GPA, dump a not Good Enough, save for a new car, buy a stylish dress and wear it often, invite and take visitors to church, read more good books, watch less TV, get involved in politics, makeover into feminine, flirt without sending wrong messages, adopt a new exercise program. In general improve the picture she has of herself in her world.
Accomplishments make women like themselves although temporarily. When they stay obligated and busy enough to quit internalizing and disliking themselves, they overcome the detrimental effects of low self-esteem or expand the usefulness of high self-esteem. That is, self-image whips self-esteem because the latter is hardwired and immovable.
Semi-permanent uplifting of self-esteem requires greater accomplishments. For example, public recognition, train for the Olympics, run a marathon, learn to fly, graduate with higher degree than planned, new job at double the salary, screen Mr. Good Enough through a year-long courtship, marry or avoid it with good cause, have a child or more in wedlock, help husband get a better job, learn to be more grateful.
In both temporary and semi-permanent uplifting of self-esteem, self-talk plays the most vital role. If you can’t tell yourself that you’re a good or likeable person, or woman, or wife, or daughter, or employee, or boss, then you won’t ever come to believe it.
For the woman seeking to recover from adolescence, one more subject awaits. Tomorrow we examine self-interest.
P.S. Schools and parents mistakenly try to uplift the self-esteem of children by giving unearned gifts, giving unearned grades, making things easier, denying children opportunities to take risks. It has the sole purpose and exclusive effect of making adults feel good about themselves. In fact, the children are worse off because their self-image is prevented from developing. Their self-esteem was hardwired many years before.