What is self-esteem and how important is it to our health?


Many early theories suggested that self-esteem is a basic human need or motivation. American psychologist Abraham Maslow included self-esteem in his hierarchy of human needs. He described two different forms of “esteem”: the need for respect from others in the form of recognition, success, and admiration, and the need for self-respect in the form of self-love, self-confidence, skill, or aptitude…

The underlying idea of the movement was that low self-esteem was the root of the problem for individuals, making it the root of societal problems and dysfunctions. A leading figure of the movement was psychologist, Nathaniel Branden who was quoted as saying, “[I] cannot think of a single psychological problem – from anxiety and depression, to fear of intimacy or of success, to spouse battery or child molestation – that is not traced back to the problem of low self-esteem”.

Shame can be a contributor to those with problems of low self-esteem…


The self-esteem movement operates on the basic principle that low self-esteem causes decreased motivation, decreased productivity and increased societal and social woes. Corresponding evidence suggests a link between low self-worth and an increased risk of violence, drug addiction and alcohol abuse. By bolstering self-esteem early in life, proponents of the self-esteem movement feel that the negative consequences of low self-worth can be avoided.

A healthy amount of self-esteem is necessary for a person’s continued success and happiness, but evidence suggests that too much artificial self-esteem can lead to depression and an overall decreased sense of self-worth. It is possible that self-esteem building exercises are necessary but only in moderation. Some feel that teaching self-esteem should come secondary to other techniques that bolster self-worth.

Not everybody believes that the self-esteem movement and methods are valid. An equal amount of research shows that high self-esteem can lead to the same pitfalls as low self-esteem. Teaching self-esteem at the exclusion of other traits can have a negative impact on a person’s ability to self-soothe and comfort himself or herself after a setback or trauma because outside validation is necessary. By taking the self-esteem bolstering efforts too far, it is possible for individuals to develop narcissism.

Those who argue against the self-esteem movement feel that the effects of the movement are more negative than they are positive. Instead of focusing on self-esteem, detractors of the movement feel that children should be taught motivation, dedication and perseverance. By learning these skills, they can make themselves feel good instead of relying on outside sources to boost self-worth…


By David Crary, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

“We need to stop endlessly repeating, ‘You’re special,’ and having children repeat that back,” said Jean Twenge , the study’s lead author and a professor at San Diego State University. “Kids are self-centered enough already.” …

Narcissism can have benefits, said study co author W. Keith Campbell of the University of Georgia, suggesting it could be useful in meeting new people “or auditioning on ‘American Idol.'”

“Unfortunately, narcissism can also have very negative consequences for society, including the breakdown of close relationships with others,” he said.

The study asserts that narcissists “are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors.”

Twenge, the author of “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism, and favor self-promotion over helping others. [The truth is out: Donald Trump is a narcissist.]

The researchers traced the phenomenon back to what they called the “self-esteem movement” that emerged in the 1980s, asserting that the effort to build self-confidence had gone too far…

Campbell said the narcissism upsurge seemed so pronounced that he was unsure if there were obvious remedies.

“Permissiveness seems to be a component,” he said. “A potential antidote would be more authoritative parenting. Less indulgence might be called for.” …

I think Campbell is saying that American kids are spoiled. Are they? Doesn’t every older generation think that of the younger generation?

Since Americans have gotten poorer, it seems that we like to indulge ourselves more. Perhaps we even need to indulge ourselves more, just to get through the day. (And maybe deep down, we feel like we don’t deserve these indulgences. Do I deserve chocolate cheesecake? Because I bought lots of cream cheese this month instead of chicken.)

I think self-esteem is important. I think every person is unique, although I don’t believe that every human being is special. How many of the over 7 billion people in the world are special? I may have a healthy self-esteem, but I don’t think I’m special.

I was thinking about self-esteem and how it relates to those with chronic medical conditions. And I was thinking about how patients are treated differently in our healthcare system — depending on your medical condition — and how discrimination can create self-esteem issues.

Chronic and intractable pain patients are learning how it feels to be treated like drug addicts by doctors and society, and yet those who suffer from drug addiction have always had to put up with this kind of discrimination. Many people still think that drug addiction is a choice, and now people are starting to believe that chronic pain is a choice. Are drug addiction and chronic pain considered real medical conditions? If so, patients would have access to as many treatments as cancer patients. Looks like we’re all just a bunch of fakers.

Being disabled is isolating and messes with your self-esteem. Why do some mental and physical conditions deserve treatment, while others are allegedly our own choice, and if we were just strong enough, we could overcome them? I smell religion in the house, which should never cross over into medical science (what’s left of it).

There’s a difference between needing the approval of others and being able to approve of yourself. Are self-worth and self-esteem the same thing? If you have low self-worth, you need others for your self-esteem. If you have self-worth, you don’t need anyone else’s approval.

However, everyone needs others to like them. And so this would be a good time to say thanks to everyone who likes my posts. Likes are nice. 🙂

18 thoughts on “Do you like yourself?

  1. I disagree with your statement; I feel everyone IS special. The problem seems to be that ‘special’ has got mixed up with ‘privileged’. Someone doesn’t have to follow the rules – they’re ‘special’. Someone gets ahead in life without doing anything for it because they’re ‘special’. No. No, they’re not. They’re privileged. It’s pure master/slave thinking, complete with the basic brainwashing to make sure us slaves don’t balk too much when our ‘special’ masters are seen getting everything and leaving nothing for us.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Good question, and under the right microscope the answer is (naturally), yes. They’re outside the bell curve of normally accepted behavior; that makes them special. People with chronic pain are outside the bell curve of normal pain; that makes us special. You can go on and on with it. Everyone can fit into some category of ‘special’. Maybe we need a new word. Something that clearly separates ‘better’ from ‘different from what is usual’.

        Liked by 1 person

        • But if you were to use that theory in reverse, then being a women wouldn’t be special because we’re not outside the bell curve of normally accepted behavior. It should be an “and,” not an “or”:

          better, greater, AND otherwise different than usual

          Solved that problem. Now I’m off to solve the drug war. 🙂


  2. Worse than stupidity, IMO, is killing many people for political and capital gain; in Clinton’s case, this means no fewer than hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, Honduras, and Libya, to start.

    While I’m not voting for your “stupid,” neither will I vote for “murderous.”

    Liked by 1 person

      • You’ll note that Iraq was one of three examples I listed.

        Ignoring the others–and all those I did not list–does not make them go away.


        • I’m not ignoring the others, I just don’t know as much about the others as I do about Iraq. I’m not a foreign policy expert. I’m just a disabled old woman in pain. I’ve only voted once in my whole life and I plan on doing it again. But there’s nothing I can do about our choices for president, just like there’s nothing I can do about my limited treatment choices to manage chronic pain.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I am exhausted after lots of weeks of terrible sleep, but especially so now. I’m working on saying useful things (including hard ones), not just speaking off the cuff, so my apologies for just diving in such a way here!

        I’m not doing any good when I don’t actually sit and reflect on what I’m trying to say and why I’m trying to say it before saying it. Now, a nap while the littlest is down, the better to speak well later.

        Happy Saturday!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I, too, disagree with your statement; I think every person is special – unique. Truly. Statistical compilations may make it seem otherwise – that only outliers are “special” – but only when one reduces human beings to metrics.

    However, “special” and ENTITLED are two different things. As I see it, the problem is not authentic self-esteem, or even an inflated sense of self-worth that is falsely labeled self-esteem, but a sense of entitlement to special treatment that cause the problems that are rampant in today’s world.

    Self-esteem speaks to resilience *when* problems come our way. And that’s an entirely different way to look at things.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Special” and “unique” are almost always positive terms. How often are those two words used in a negative way? When I think about special people, I think of Jimmy Carter, Pink, Lady Gaga, and Martin Luther King, Jr. When I think about people who are not special, I think about George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Ann Coulter, and Donald Trump. I cannot look at those people and think there is anything special or unique about them. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

      On the one hand, the DNA of all humans is remarkably similar. But within a percentage point or two, our DNA makes us all unique. And yet the DNA of mice is very similar to human DNA, so how special or unique are we really? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • If our DNA were all, and psychology were left out altogether I might share your thinking about it. The differences in the brains of mice and men tell different tales, even though their DNA shares certain elements in common – those that science is trying to understand every day.

        And I also know that genes are turned on and off (expressed) by our experiences, and that the brains we were born with are changed structurally as new pathways are developed and new neurons come into being as a result of the choices we make and the opinions we hold in response to what life throws our way.

        Even identical twins very quickly have brains that scan differently. Mice reared in stimulation deprived cages and mice reared in what science calls “enriched environments” scan and behave differently as well.

        The decision-making cortex of the human brain indicates that it is up to us what we make of the experiences of our lives.

        And I certainly hope that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Ann Coulter, and Donald Trump are unique – I’d hate to think that there were others running around who thought and acted exactly like they do. 🙂


        Liked by 2 people

        • The decision-making part of our brain is influenced by so many things, like chocolate cheesecake. Invisible things, like chemicals in our water, land, and air. Violence, hatred, discrimination, cruelty, and war. How much control do we really have over our own decisions?

          If those people you and I named were unique, then how come Donald Trump has the potential to become president? Those people are famous and everyone recognizes their names, but there are plenty of Americans who think and act just like them. They just don’t have the same amount of power.

          We should study Trump’s brain, although I’m sure it would be very similar to Jamie Dimon’s brain. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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