I have never been a fan of the self-esteem movement because I have always thought that a person’s self-esteem comes from one’s own self-talk. This self-talk emanates primarily from a person’s nature and experiences, rather than from some external agent(s). I have never bought into the idea that people who bully or who do not do well academically in school have low self-esteem. I have personally known people who bully and have high self-esteem, and I have known people who have done very well academically but who have low self-esteem.
The “SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND” (volume 16, number 4) contains an interesting article entitled, “EXPLODING THE SELF-ESTEEM MYTH,” with the subtitle: “BOOSTING PEOPLE’S SENSE OF SELF-WORTH HAS BECOME A NATIONAL PREOCCUPATION. YET SURPRISINGLY, RESEARCH SHOWS THAT SUCH EFFORTS DO LITTLE TO IMPROVE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OR PREVENT TROUBLESOME BEHAVIOR.”
One study cited eludes to responsibility as a prime factor in self-esteem:
“. . .students who take responsibility for their grades not only get better grades but they also learn that they, personally, can control the grades they get.
“In fact, in one study researchers had students write down what went through their minds when they were trying to get better grades. Students who improved with each test were thinking:
I need to work harder.
I can learn this material if I apply myself.
I can control what happens to me in this class.
I have what it takes to do this.
“Students who did not improve were thinking:
It’s not my fault
This test was too hard.
I’m not good at this.”
The authors conclude the article by stating:
“We have found little to indicate that indiscriminately promoting self-esteem in today’s children or adults, just for being themselves, offers society any compensatory benefits beyond the seductive pleasure it brings to those engaged in the exercise.”
More information on this topic is available at http://marvinmarshall.com.
The study reinforces the opening paragraph of the book, DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS, PUNISHMENTS OR REWARDS, of which the first few sentences are:
“Life is a conversation. Interestingly, the most influential person we talk with all day is ourself, and what we tell oursel has a direct bearing on our behavior, our performance, and our influence on others. In fact, a good case can be made that our self-talk creates our reality.” (page 1)
May your self-talk be of positivity; of consistently prompting the realization that you can always choose your response to any situation, stimulation, or urge; and may your reflection bring you gratefulness. Implementing these will increase your self-esteem.