Self-Esteem in Action

Healthy self-esteem is significantly correlated with rationality, realism, intuitiveness, creativity, independence, flexibility, the ability to manage change, a willingness to admit (and correct) mistakes, benevolence and cooperativeness.

Rationality: Rationality should not be confused, as it so often is, with compulsively following rules or blindly adhering to what the people of a given time or place have proclaimed to be reasonable.  On the contrary, rationality often must challenge what some group calls reasonable.  High self-esteem is intrinsically reality-oriented.  A commitment to reality goes hand in hand with the practice of living consciously.

Man Swimming

Realism: In this context, realism means a respect for facts.  In tests, low self-esteem individuals tend to underestimate or overestimate their abilities; high self-esteem individuals tend to assess their abilities realistically.

Intuitiveness A mind that has learned to trust itself is more likely to rely on intuition (in an appropriate fashion) than one that has not.  Intuition is significant with respect to self-esteem only insofar as it expresses high sensitivity to, and appropriate regard for, internal signals.

Creativity: Creative people listen to and trust their inner signals more than the average person.  People with low self-esteem tend to discount the productions of their mind.  It is not that they never get worthwhile ideas.  But they do not value them and rarely follow through with them.  In effect, their attitude is, “If the idea is mine, how good can it be?”

Independence: Thinking for oneself is a natural corollary – both a cause and a consequence – of healthy self-esteem.  So is the practice of taking full responsibility for one’s existence.

Flexibility: Clinging to the past in the face of new and changing circumstances is indicative of insecurity and a lack of self-trust.  Flexibility is the ability to respond to change without being bound to the past.  In direct opposition is the kind of rigidity animals manifest when they are frightened- they freeze.  This sort of paralysis is also the response of a mind that does not trust itself to cope with the new or master the unfamiliar— or one that has simply become complacent or even slovenly.  Flexibility, conversely, is the natural consequence of self-esteem.  A mind that trusts itself is light on its feet, unencumbered by irrelevant attachments and able to respond quickly to novelty because it is open to seeing.

Able to manage change: Self-esteem does not find change frightening.  Self-esteem flows with reality; self-doubt fights it.  Self-esteem speeds up reaction time; self-doubt retards it.  The ability to manage change is indicative of self-esteem.

Smiling Old Man

Willingness to admit (and correct) mistakes: A basic characteristic of healthy self-esteem is a strong reality orientation.  Facts take precedence over beliefs.  Truth is a higher value than having been right.  Consciousness is perceived as more desirable than self-protective unconsciousness.  If self-trust is tied to respect for reality, then correcting an error is esteemed above pretending not to have made one.  A person with healthy self-esteem is not ashamed to say, when the occasion warrants it, “I was wrong.”  Denial and defensiveness are characteristics of insecurity, guilt, feelings of inadequacy and shame.  It is low self-esteem that experiences a simple admission of error as humiliation and even self-damnation.

Benevolence and cooperativeness: children who are treated with respect tend to internalize that respect and then treat others accordingly- in contrast to a child who is abused, internalizes self-contempt, and grows up reacting to others out of fear and rage.  Benevolence is the natural result of self-esteem.  There is no need to fear others, no need to seek protection behind a fortress of hostility.

Impact of Self-Esteem

A healthy level of self-esteem is a requisite for success and satisfaction in all of life’s ventures, whether they are personal or professional.  Discounting or minimizing the importance of self-esteem is an assault on your ability to prosper and enjoy life.