On self-esteem [Saturday, Jul. 19, 2008, 12:34 pm]
I saw a commercial on TV a few days ago that has made me think a lot since. It's about some foundation that aims to help girls with their self-esteem issues by teaching them to think good thoughts about themselves.
And most people probably don't agree with that, but that's how I'm coming to see it... whenever I've had "low self-esteem" it's usually been after a period of getting down on myself and dwelling on whatever humiliating thing happened, or something like that. The cause of the problem is not that I don't think good things about myself - the cause is that I dwell on myself.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not pulling for a complete erasing of individuality here. That would never work - I have a personality (hidden away somewhere), and I'm proud of it. But... I've noticed that the more I dwell on myself, the worse I feel. It doesn't matter whether I'm thinking positive or negative thoughts - even when I do think positively, I usually feel guilty for it. To me it seems that, either way, dwelling on one's self too much will inevitably lead to some degree of pride or self-deprecation.
Of course, I always used to hear that things like self-pity are wrong, and I wondered - how can it be wrong when it's not even my fault? I only feel bad about myself because of [insert blame of someone/something else here]. Ultimately, it was a case of me trying to blame outside forces for the fact that I felt bad. Yeah, some of it might have been on target. But again, making myself out to be some kind of victim in my mind rarely fixes things either.
So should we teach girls to think about themselves even more, to combat the thoughts they'd had before ... will that solve the problem? I'm not convinced. Now, obviously, I wouldn't teach kids that mean or humiliating things other people may say about them don't matter - that's different. In that case it's okay to think about it, sort it out... but ultimately, I would much rather teach a child how to not take those kinds of comments to heart at all, rather than to try to cover them up by spending even more time dwelling on themselves, trying to build positive "self-esteem."
Sometimes the best cure for self-consciousness is to just get out of yourself. Focus on other people now and then. I'm not saying I have this all figured out... I still spend way too much time "inside myself," but I've noticed that dwelling on things rarely fixes them.
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009