I came upon an article from Mayo Clinic the other day that really tickled my passion for confidence and self-esteem. So I thought I’d comment their take on the matter of healthy self-esteem.
First of all, they’re actually doing an important job by mentioning the factors that might influence our self-esteem. Which are as follows:
- Your own thoughts and perceptions
- How other people react to you
- Experiences at home, school, work and in the community
- Illness, disability or injury
- Culture or religion
- Role and status in society
- Media messages
This is important, because I don’t think many people realize how many factors actually contribute to how we view and assess ourselves. Go ahead: Try to see if there’s any of the above points that doesn’t pertain to you.
Many of these things are more or less inescapable conditions that come with being a living human. We all have thoughts and perceptions. We all have other people react to us. By far most of us have homes, schools and jobs, and we all belong to several kinds of communities.
We all experience illness, disability or injury at some point. We all belong to certain cultures — national, local and subcultural. We’re not all religious, but being irreligious or simply “spiritual” has just as much effect on our identities. And whether we like it or not, we all have a certain societal staus, and we’re all exposed to certain media. (Unless you’re a forest-dwelling, Walden-style hermit, in which case, thanks for reading!)
The most important point Mayo Clinic makes is that the biggest impact on our self-esteem probably lies within our own thoughts. This is something we need to realize — especially when we’re low on confidence and self-esteem; and this is what confidence coaching is all about. We have the ability to change our thoughts towards patterns that support us.
If only more people were aware of this.
Another important point is that when we have high confidence and self-esteem, we’re more open to learning and feedback. This enables us to aquire and master new skills. The less confident and self-appreciative you are, the harder it is to take criticism. Confident people see opportunities for learning all around. Non-fident people see only struggling with everyday mundanities.
One thing I would question, though, is the premise that Mayo Clinic only talks about “normal, healthy” and “low” self-esteem, hinting to those two as being the “extremes”. They don’t mention “high”, or, indeed, “too high” self-esteem, and I think this illustrates the missing perspective:
“When self-esteem is healthy and grounded in reality, it’s hard to have too much of it. Boasting and feeling superior to others around you isn’t a sign of too much self-esteem. It’s more likely evidence of insecurity and low self-esteem.“
While I would sometimes consider boasting a sign of insecurity, I think feeling superior CAN be a quite realistic judgment. If I earned millions, traveled the world, played hard rock on sold-out stadiums, had sex with supermodels, survived truckloads of drugs and maybe did extreme sports, I’d consider myself superior to most people.
When is self-esteem “too much”? If you have “too much” of it, isn’t that exactly because it’s no longer “healthy and grounded in reality”?
Maybe part of the explanation lies in the summarizing conclusion, with which I also wholeheartedly agree:
“Maintaining a healthy, realistic view of yourself isn’t about blowing your own horn. It’s about learning to like and respect yourself — faults and all.“
The entire article can be found here.
(NB: Mayo Clinic are nonprofit, and I’m in no way affiliated with them.)