I have always been interested in Imposter Syndrome and Positive thinking. So, when a coachee of mine talked about lack of self-esteem, I thought between us we could investigate further into what this is all about. I purchased a secondhand book for less than a fiver written by called Nathaniel Branden in the 1990s. Unfortunately, Nathaniel is no longer with us as he died in 2014.
Where do we start? Most of us are children of dysfunctional families. By that Nathaniel meant that most of us grew up in homes characterised by conflicting signals. Denials of reality, parental lying (or sheltering us from the truth!) and lack adequate respect for our mind and person. The family environment can have a profound impact, for good, or for ill. Parents can nurture self-trust and self-respect or place appalling roadblocks in the way of learning such attitudes.
So, what is self-esteem? Nathaniel believed it is the experience that we appropriate to life and to the requirements of life. More specifically, self-esteem is:
1.Confidence in our ability to think and to cope with the basic challenges of life.
2. Confidence in our right to be happy, the feeling of being worthy, deserving, entitled to assert our need and wants and to enjoy the fruits of our efforts.
Self- esteem empowers, energises, motivates. It inspires us to achieve and allows us to take pleasure and pride in our achievements. It allows us to experience satisfaction.
I have coached many people in my 16 years of coaching who have been highly productive workaholics, driven to prove their worth possibly to a parent who predicted they would never amount to anything. Nothing we do in this circumstance will ever feel like enough.
The higher our self-esteem, the better equipped we are to cope with adversity in our careers or in our personal lives, the quicker we are to pick ourselves up after a fall, the more energy we have to begin anew.
The higher our self-esteem, the more inclined we are to treat others with respect, benevolence, goodwill, and fairness – since we do not tend to perceive them as a threat, and since self-respect is the foundation for respect to others.
Too many people are preoccupied with the opinion of others. Nathaniel believes liberation is by raising the level of consciousness one brings to one’s own experience; the more one turns up the volume on one’s inner signals, the more external signals tend to recede into proper balance.
In the case of coachees who have accomplished so much yet don’t feel proud of themselves – who chose their goals, the coachee or a significant other inside them? Neither pride nor self esteem can be supported by the pursuit of second-hand values that do not reflect who we really are. The desire to “please” can lead us to do things that betray our self-esteem.
Thinking independently about our work, our relationships, the values that will guide our life, the goals we will set ourselves – is a generator of self-esteem. A healthy self esteem results in a natural inclination to think independently.
Self-esteem is rooted internally – mental operations – rather than in external success or failures. If you want to read about self-esteem, I suggest you read one of Nathaniel Branden’s books or get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org