I saw your post to Willowley, and her reply, so knowing she'll be here later I thought I would mention something on this.
As you may imagine, I have lost 100 pounds in weight and this has opened up lots of new doors for me and generally made me happier.
But I am also finding that the as you find out about the truth behind things generally, the state of the world, food, meat, oil, all that stuff... the outward reality crumbles and it can make you feel quite depressed. I now see people as "processed people" like at http://www.processedpeople.com This can wear you down a bit, when I walk past a fast food restaurant I feel like I am only one alive amidst a load of brain dead people. For me I think the solution is to get a job related to that field of work, ecology, nutrition or health. The other solution would be to join them and eat junk food, but I have come too far to go back that way now!
I guess I am talking about general happiness here as opposed to self esteem, however I think they are probably linked.
I also found something interesting in "The Pleasure Trap". It's a great book and I would recommend it to everyone. The text was an end note to Chapter 14, "the Myth of Moderation":
* The wise parent, coach, or mentor knows that a key to motivation is to keep expectations at achievable levels, or else a self-protective paralysis becomes likely. (p. 167)
It is often assumed that giving people support and encouragement is a helpful motivational technique. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes, however, the would-be helpful parent, coach, or friend is overly encouraging. This sets the stage for a most curious motivational reversal or paralysis. It appears to work according to logic described as follows.
Our status is not something that we have within us; it is actually located within other people’s minds.The amount of status that we have with one person is different than the amount we have with another. The amount of status we have can be roughly translated as being how important the other person perceives us to be. This judgement is related to their estimation of our current abilities, as well as our latent talent.
Status is a critically important variable in our psychology, and we carry within us a status monitoring mechanism, neural equipment to monitor how well or poorly others think of us. (We can think of this status monitoring mechanism as our “ego.”) Status has been intimately related to survival and reproductive success throughout the natural history of our species.
If we perceive that our actions have raised our status, we typically feel pride or excitement, i.e., moods of happiness (it is “ego enhancing”). If we observe that others have reduced their evaluations of us, we are sensitive to this status loss and may feel ashamed or embarrassed, i.e., moods of unhappiness (the ego “hurts”). Because of its value in survival and reproductive processes, it can be valuable to have as much status as possible even when it is based upon false perceptions. When others give us too much credit for our abilities, we may feel uncomfortable, but the right move—in the natural history of our species—is to refrain from disillusioning them about their overestimation of us. A young man on a solitary hunt who killed a wildebeest with its foot stuck in a snake hole might have been rewarded with an extra dose of status for his remarkable success. Though uncomfortable with this unearned status, he might well refrain from explaining the exact details of his success. The young women of the tribe might have found him to be suddenly more attractive. As a result, an honest recounting of the hunt might not have been the wisest course, biologically speaking.
His extra, unearned status would come with the discomfort of knowing that it would probably have to be given back at some point.The young man might avoid the next group hunt, feigning injury or illness. Sooner or later his real status would eventually be realigned with reality, but it would be in his best interests to delay the discovery of his actual abilities. The best move would often be to avoid participation as much as possible. This phenomenon is routinely observed in children who are told by their parents that they can “be great” at something they are attempting to do. Studies have shown—to the surprise of self-esteem champions—that such encouragements are often a significant deterrent to achievement. Few situational forces can undermine motivation as effectively as bequeathing unearned status.The receiving party dares not give their best effort, as it feels dangerously expensive to risk the near inevitable status reduction when performance is beneath expectations. We refer to this paradoxical motivational problem as “the Ego Trap.”
However this mechanism doesn't work for me, in the case where I know I am right. For example, others - especially those "larger" people have said "you have lost too much weight". I ignore them. People who say "it's OK to eat this or that in moderation" and try to put me down for my diet choice, I think they are wrong, so it doesn't drag me down. But there are plenty of truths that depress me. Lately I have found that working up a sweat at the gym helps, and it also helps with my weight loss goals. Equally a run would have the same effect. But I'll leave it for Willowley, she is good with this.
I agree with you, you have come way too far to go back to the old way now, I know that's not an option for you at this point. I like the other analogy better, you're the only one alive amidst a load of brain dead people ha ha.
In my opinion happiness and self-esteem are linked. I don't think it's possible to be truly happy in your life unless you value yourself and have good self-esteem. I think it comes down to loving yourself, if you don't love yourself how can anybody else love you at the level you deserve? I think the answer to that is they can't, sooner or later if you don't love yourself they will get tired of you and treat you badly or leave because you don't value yourself, I've seen it happen over and over again.
I would agree that you have to be very careful in how you motivate people to gain self-esteem, they have to be able to achieve in baby steps in order to gain confidence in themselves.
I think the status issue, being perceived in other peoples minds is very true for someone with low self-esteem. They always measure themselves by how others see them which can be devastating for someone with very low self-esteem if they aren't in their element. I see this as a perpetuating problem, someone with low self-esteem will seek out like minded people because they want to feel safe. On the other hand it can also be said that people perceive what we emit. It all depends what angle you're looking at it from.
I don't think the statement from The Pleasure Trap applies to people with high self-esteem as a general rule. Those with confidence in themselves don't generally worry about how people perceive them because they are secure within themselves.
I truly think we teach people how to treat us and if we don't value ourselves and think we have nothing to contribute to society then people will treat us accordingly.
Another thing I've encountered, some people with low self-esteem start to see themselves as victims, always blaming others or society or hard times, or whatever but it's never their fault. The people in this category have to really want to change their situation because they have to be able to hear the truth and that's hard for them. If they don't really want to change you can't help them.
The last half of the last paragraph from TPT in your post Steve, I don't agree with because I was one of those kids whose parents told me I could be anything and do anything I wanted in this life, that I could achieve whatever I wanted to achieve and it's how I've lived my life. I was told I could accomplish anything I set my mind to do but that it would take hard work and diligence. But I was also raised being told that nobody was better than me and that I was no better than anybody else which really cemented the self-esteem issue for me. I'm not saying the findings in the study were wrong, but for me it was just the opposite, the encouragements were what made me believe I could achieve what I wanted and gave me the confidence and self-esteem I needed to realize my dreams.
I find I'm being drawn to children who are being raised by parents who have low self-esteem. It hurts me to know these kids are mirroring they're parents, what they learn growing up is usually how they live their lives and if they aren't taught to value themselves as children it's much harder to realize they're worth something as adults. They can't be what they don't know anything about. It's much easier to teach a child than it is an adult. I think there should be many more mentoring programs than there are where I live, children are the future and I think we need to teach them how to be both mentally and physically healthy as they grow into adults.
I guess everyone has a different opinion on how to go about something but each person is different so we need to be able to read each person individually with regard to instilling self-esteem. What works for one might not work for another, I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way, just different ways.
I understand about you not listening to other people Steve regarding your weight and diet. There will always be those who for whatever reason don't want you to succeed, glad to hear you know your body well enough to say they're wrong and stick to your guns.
Fascinating post Willow. I used to work with someone whose self esteem was entirely based on what other people thought of her. I would say "I spoke to someone at x office and they remembered you" she would get paranoid and ask what they said about her, and so on. Apparently she left there under a bit of a cloud, but it seems she brought her baggage with her. It was a bit pathetic really, to see someone collapse into a heap of stress because someone 20 miles away may be saying something bad about her. In fact they weren't, they just sent their regards.
I think she didn't know herself. She was one of these people who build a false tough facade up, but eventually it falls apart and then she moves on and repeats the mistake. In fact, she turned on me because it gained favour with her bosses, but after I left that job she was sacked in the most spectacular way involving video surveillance of her going home every day and doing no work. A point which I gently pointed out to her, as her boss, but it was conveniently ignored by management at the time when she decided to help them and use the race card to say I was victimizing her when I criticised her work because she was asian. I think one of the guys involved in the eventual process of sacking her nearly had a nervous breakdown. That was a very sick workplace, and a lesson in life of what to avoid. Very glad I am out of there.
On the suject of those little lessons in life, I think people with low self esteem may indeed regard themselves as victims. She did. I think they must feel like a blind man in a maze, and it's not fair ("why me?" and all that). But the annoying thing is all they have to do is start walking in any direction, and if they bump into something it's the wrong way! Keep doing that and you will get out. The lesson being is that you are in control of your own destiny. And when you get out you will probably find that you can see after all, it's just that the lights were off where you originated from. As you physically move your viewpoint will change, and you will see things differently, even if you never believed it was possible in the first place. The feeling of impossibility only comes from the fact that you have never experienced anything different. But it is irritating when you see people who refuse to help themselves for whatever reason. Sometimes they need to get away from others who are putting them down. I feel like whacking them on the head with a well rolled newspaper, in the hope that it will knock some sense into them! I think you probably have a much better way of dealing with them though.
And confidence is the big thing. Forget about that outer facade, find yourself, that should be the ultimate goal. Confidence comes from within I think. But being confident does not always mean being happy, because I think we are all tied in with others. I can be confident - but put me in a McDonalds and I will not be happy. I'll be wanting to tell all those people not to ruin their health and our shared planet, and then I'll be worried about a McLibel case against me. However put me in a good conversation over a meal with friends and I will be happy. On a macro scale, I think the human race may be heading for ecological disaster, on the other hand it may just be one of those bumps on the head you get when you are searching for the way out of the maze, albeit a very large bump indeed.
Regarding what can be achieved, well I too think just about anything is possible. It sounds like your parents were very good, and as such you are now using that knowledge to help others, which is great.
I rambled a bit off the topic of self esteem, but I'll post it anyway.