If you want better self esteem, lose your sense of self importance. That might sound contradictory, so hear me out.
Self esteem is your own sense of worthiness that comes from within. Although this belief may be outwardly validated, it doesn’t come from others. It comes from the confidence in your own ability and goodness.
When you don’t have high self esteem, you’re prone to loneliness, depression, and under achievement. You accept situations and relationships that aren’t healthy. If your self esteem is too high, you can be selfish, out of touch, and disconnected.
Low, high, and healthy self esteem have one thing in common – the relationship to others. With unhealthy self esteem, it’s all about you so you’re self important. In low self esteem, you think that everyone is looking at you and judging you. They find you wanting. So you turn these thoughts on yourself and judge yourself as bad, unskilled, ugly, or something that is not worthy. This belief creates shame that separates you from others. If not outwardly, than inwardly. It keeps you from showing your real self. You could give too much. It could prevent meaningful connection.
In high self esteem, you think that you’re better than others. Maybe you don’t like working with others because you think they are incompetent and mess things up. Maybe you feel that it’s easier to just do things yourself than to ask for help or work as a team. It could be that your standards are so high that no one can match them so you stay alone to avoid disappointment. Or maybe you think that you’re so high above and different that you don’t make an effort to connect. However it shows up, the result is that you’re alone. People are social creatures. Too much solitude is not healthy.
What masquerades as high self esteem tends to be low self esteem in disguise. We play the Special or Elite role because we are afraid others won’t like or understand us. We pamper ourselves so that we are never in a place of want. This keeps us from having to rely on others to give to us and being let down. High self esteem can be away to cope with not having great social skills. It can be a way of saying to the world, “I don’t need you.”
The easy solution is to lose that self importance. When you see yourself as part of the crowd, as equal to the crowd, you start to see the value in others and yourself. No one is above you and no one is below you. Sure, some people have more skill in certain areas. Some are prettier. Some are smarter, but everyone is of equal value. Everyone contributes something wonderful to humanity and the greater world.
From this point of view, nobody is entitled to more respect or consideration than you. When everyone is equal, you don’t struggle to give others your resources or kindness when it takes away from you because you value your own safety and comfort as much as theirs. When everyone is equal, it’s easier to watch others struggle to their feet because you believe in them. This makes them believe in themselves so they become capable. This way you are neither over giving nor under giving.
It’s also easier to give to and appreciate others because it’s not all about you. When you see the value in others’ gifts, you start to appreciate the little things like a beautiful smile, an easy manner with children, or resiliency. You start to see that we’re all in this web of life. We’re all in this together and need the little and big things we all contribute to society. We need art, beauty, literature, innovation, care taking, food, structure, management, music, and all the things that make life possible and worthwhile. We don’t withhold our gifts so there is more for everyone.
Are you important? Absolutely! Yet so is everyone else. No more, no less. When we’re all at the same level, self esteem comes easily. It doesn’t matter if others see you this way. It only matters how you see the world. Healthy self esteem moves things from a “me” perspective to a “we” perspective. It goes from independence and isolation to interdependence. Try it and let me know what you think.