The Pitfalls of Pseudo Self-Esteem
Sometimes we encounter people who enjoy worldly success, are widely esteemed, or maintain a public façade of assurance and yet are deeply dissatisfied, anxious or depressed. These people may project the appearance of self-efficacy and self-respect, but they possess neither of these traits.
Pseudo self-esteem is the illusion of self-efficacy and self-respect without the reality. It is a non-rational, self-protective device to diminish anxiety and to provide a spurious sense of security— to assuage our need for authentic self-esteem while allowing the real causes of its lack to remain unexamined. Nothing is more common than to pursue self-esteem by means that will not and cannot work. Instead of striving for a healthy sense of self, some people seek self-esteem through popularity, material acquisitions or sexual exploits. Instead of valuing personal authenticity, we may value belonging to the right clubs, the right church or the right political faction.
The possibilities for self-deception are almost endless– all the blind alleys down which we can lose ourselves, not realizing that what we desire cannot be purchased with counterfeit currency. Self-esteem is not a commodity; it is an intimate experience. It resides in the core of one’s being, not in external factors.
Self-esteem is what I think and feel about myself, not what someone else thinks or feels about me.
I can be loved by my family, my mate and my friends, and yet not love myself. I can be admired by my associates and yet regard myself as worthless. I can project an image of assurance and poise that fools almost everyone and yet secretly tremble with a sense of my inadequacy.
I can fulfill the expectations of others and yet fail my own; I can win every honor and yet feel I have accomplished nothing; I can be adored by millions and yet wake up each morning with a sickening sense of fraudulence and emptiness.
To be viewed as “successful” yet lack positive self-esteem is to be condemned to feeling like a fraud, anxiously awaiting exposure.