Where Self-Esteem Movement Has Gone Wrong

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by ibshambat, Aug 31, 2020.

  1. ibshambat

    ibshambat Banned

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    The main claim of the self-esteem movement is that if you feel good about yourself you will be a good person, and if you feel badly about yourself you will be a bad person. This claim is completely wrong. What you are as a person has nothing to do with how you feel about yourself. What you are as a person is about what you feel about – and how you are treating - others. If I feel good about myself but think that you are a jerk, I will not be all that good to you however I feel about myself.

    If good self-esteem made good people and bad self-esteem made bad people, then in all the cultures in the world where self-esteem was not encouraged nobody could be good. And of course there have been good people everywhere. A woman from World War II generation told me that self-esteem used to be called conceit. Very few people think that her generation made bad people. In fact it is one of the most respected generations in history.

    In fact a case can be made that there should be an expected negative correlation between self-esteem and personal qualities. If someone has higher standards for himself, he will have more trouble meeting them than someone who has lower standards for himself. The person with lower standards will have higher self-esteem; the person with higher standards will have better personal qualities. In this situation, rewarding self-esteem creates a reverse set of incentives. People with lower standards win; people with higher standards lose. And that makes the world worse, and it also makes people worse.

    I had a friend from India who told me that she had low self-esteem and that for that reason she was helping people. I told her that it may not have anything to do with self-esteem at all. I told her that it may be instead her education and her values. She found that insight useful. I do not know whether or not it did anything for or against her self-esteem, but it did things to allow her to see the rightfulness in her actions.

    I take issue when good things are presented as bad things. Being willing to help the next person is one of the best traits that one can have, and it is completely wrong to mistake it as low self-esteem or any other kind of psychopathology. The same is the case with romantic love and any number of other things.

    So no, self-esteem does not make good people, nor does lack of it make bad people. What matters is not what you feel about yourself, but what you actually are. Do not strive to feel good about yourself. Strive to be good for real. And then others will decide whether or not to esteem you.
     
  2. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I've always viewed self esteem largely as a willingness to try to overcome ones limitations combined with an acceptance of the reality of those limitations. Kindof a 'ok, so I can't be an astronaut, but I can still be happy and important in other ways.'
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2020
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  3. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

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    That's not the issue AT ALL.

    Esteem is a central topic when addressing motivation.

    A school is just not going to succeed at getting a kid striving to succeed, collaberating with others, excited about learning, etc., when the kid has low self esteem.

    Your "good person" stuff is just a gross misunderstanding. "Being a good person" is just one of the horrible outcomes when a kid has no self esteem.
     
  4. ibshambat

    ibshambat Banned

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    I achieved highly in school despite not having a high self-esteem. I had other source of motivation.

    Run that by me again, I can't figure out what you mean here.
     
  5. WillReadmore

    WillReadmore Well-Known Member

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    Yes, we have individuals who succeed with pretty much every deficit imaginable and I'm glad you succeeded.

    The point is more than when education is the objective, there will be greater success when inividuals don't have self esteem deficits to work through.

    Maybe I overstated my point. I agree that lack of self esteem could lead to real problems, problems of being a "good person" among them. My bet is that some of our serial killers shooting up schools had serious self esteem problems.

    But, low self esteem is going to reduce success in any objective, certainly including education.
     

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