Saturday, July 18, 2009

Self-Esteem and Self-Respect

This begins a section on what Abraham Maslow called 'Esteem Needs'. I'm going to look at three different needs around respect, beginning with self-respect.

Self-respect, self-esteem, self-worth, self-regard, self-confidence, and self-integrity are all used to describe this process. (I am indebted to Wikipedia's article on Self-esteem for many of the ideas I talk about in this post.)

The concept of self-esteem has become controversial over the last few years. Teaching kids self-esteem, by itself, won't lead to better grades. And at least one researcher has found that bullies and violent criminals often have high opinions of themselves. I think it's telling that one of the findings was that violence often occurs when those opinions are challenged. How solid of a sense of self-worth is it when you need to act out when someone threatens your self-esteem?

Self-esteem, in my view, is quite different from hubris and arrogance. The criminals and bullies in the study were convinced of their superiority to others. I don't view this as self-esteem.

I'm an egalitarian; I don't think anyone is superior or inferior to anyone else. For me, self-esteem is all about realizing our basic self-worth and that each of us has worth. What increases self-respect is when we do things that benefit others and make the world better. When we act out of integrity and take responsibility for our actions.

I'm convinced that self-respect is totally intertwined with the next two versions of respect: respect for others and respect from others.

Nathaniel Branden, "Our Urgent Need For Self-Esteem"--A bit of a business model view of self-esteem from one of the 'gurus' of the movement but it contains his formulation of the 'Six Pillars of Self-Esteem' and what I like about it is his inclusion of words like 'integrity' and 'responsibility'; it's not just about feeling good about yourself (and, yes, I know, he's an unabashed libertarian)
Richard Carson, Taming Your Gremlin--This "Guide to Enjoying Yourself" certainly can help build self-esteem (and help deal with the 'gremlins' out to destroy it); great cartoons and a very useful piece of advice repeated throughout the book: Simply Notice, Choose and Play with Options, and Be in Process; if you can master that it will surely increase your confidence
Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People--Being effective is certainly an esteem builder and this book lays it on the line; looks at the difference between simply having a 'positive mental attitude' and really working on character development
Lack of Self-Confidence--A Buddhist view on self-esteem
Virginia Satir, Making Contact--Contains a section on self-esteem, which includes her five freedoms: 'To see and hear what is here, To say what one feels and thinks, To feel what one feels, To ask for what one wants, and To take risks on one's own behalf'; Virginia Satir also wrote a book called Self-Esteem

Quote of the Day: "Self-esteem is the center of all our being and it is essential to living a free life." - Virginia Satir

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