Tuesday, June 26, 2012


People talk a lot about raising self-esteem.  I think self-esteem is a myth.  It is based on doing, not being.  You become a human doing instead of a human being.  This theory of self-esteem is echoed by Albert Ellis, who created the REBT theory for therapy (rational emotive behavior therapy).  This therapy teaches clients about the mind, the feelings, and the behaviors of people and shows them the way to self-acceptance, to unconditional self-love, instead of self-esteem that is based on what we DO.  Self-esteem is a trap.  If we don't perform as we've been taught or conditioned to, we feel like failures in our lives.  In contrast, unconditional self-regard allows us to love ourselves regardless of what we do or who we are.

Self-esteem is one of the most talked about and one of the greatest myths of our time.  Are we not worthy of respect just because we are human beings?  Do we have to prove to the world, to our friends and our family, that we can jump through hoops they value in order to be regarded as valuable?

Improving ourselves is a worthy cause, and, I believe, one of the reasons we are on this earth.  Yet, regardless of what we accomplish, we can still love ourselves.  We just need to divorce ourselves from the conditioning from our societies and families.  "Is, not become": that is the answer!

Can't a baby be loved and respected?  Must he prove to us that he is valuable?  The same can be said of older humans.  Each person has their trials and their limitations.  Does that mean that they should be loved less because they might have impediments that hold them back from accomplishing what we think they should, or what they think they should?

People who claim to be Christians are often guilty (as are non-Christians--but they are taught differently so they are more off-the-hook) of accepting and valuing others depending on what they accomplish in life.  According to most Christians, this life is test to see what we can overcome, what we can learn, what we can accomplish.  These judgments hold true especially for people who are not related to one another.  It seems to be easier to love a child or relative, regardless of what they do in life.

Self-esteem is a myth!  Let us stop talking about self-love and acceptance in this way!!  Because we "are", we are worthy of love.  We must learn to throw away the antiquated ideas of "you are what you do", and supplant them with "you are who you are and worthy of love and respect under any conditions."

Does this concept sound strange to you?  Share your thoughts with us.  Challenge this concept, if you believe differently!



Yun Yi said...

great post psachno!
i believe self-esteem is based on "being", not "doing". and it did take long time for me to reach this understanding, even though by heart, i was naturally a "being" person.
i think, somehow, this concept of "self-esteem" of modern psychology converged with Zen buddhism or taoism, which center on being, not doing thousands years ago.

Anonymous said...

Doing good adds meaning to life.

Steph said...

I think for many who have the luxury of being the free thinkers of our age who have not been marginalized by traits of nature and narrowness of man's minds can choose not to understand or maybe relate to intentional conditioning by which to rule humans by their minds for centuries. Self hatred exist and we see it in the denouncing of one's own physical attributes and attempts to erase what can not be. If self hatred can exist than the low self confidence whether you are loved by someone and hated by the larger society and everyday you are reminded by subtle or overt acts of dehumanization can be conditioned in your mind. Pavlov provide this and that conditioning whether real or imagined fosters negative self talk and psychological markers in the psyche and that creates a false self that believes and function as if it is not loved and has no history therefore has no sense of belonging by which to foster a context of I am loved. How do the human psyche create self esteem when you have a personality developed in contradictions and no history to confirm otherwise.

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