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High Self-Esteem vs. Good Self-Esteem

Discussion in 'Sobriety Tips and Inspiration' started by dakotacensus, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. dakotacensus

    dakotacensus Member

    I've been reading a lot about self-esteem recently as part of trying to figure out how to help a family member overcome a serious addiction. I came across some interesting research that looked at the difference between having good self-esteem, compared to just high self-esteem.

    "… I didn't feel like there was any gain for me. Even if that sounds selfish, it was really justified, because I was a better student and he was not a good student. I felt good about not wanting to help him."

    This statement is from someone with high self-esteem. What she is doing is reacting defensively to a question she perceives as a threat to her sense of self. Researchers, who performed the study she took part in, call this ‘fragile self-esteem’. It is high, in that she a good opinion of who she is, but it is also shallow, and not grounded in reality. This means it is easy to feel threatened when asked to talk about personal shortcomings.

    Fragile self-esteem is part of an emerging realization that there are more than just the high and low varieties and that not all kinds of self-esteem relate to positive psychological functioning. People with the fragile type often reveal themselves by showing strong verbal defensiveness, and without constant validation, their self-worth can crash.

    The opposite of this would be ‘secure self-esteem’. This is when a person feels comfortable presenting their authentic self to the world, and is able to accept that they have both strengths and weaknesses. Being secure with yourself means that your self-image is not threatened by other people or events that may expose things you can’t do well.

    What is needed is to ensure that when trying to develop self-esteem in ourselves or others we are not hiding failures or shortcomings. Worse still is avoiding challenges and dumbing things down to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt. The message we need to be sending is that regardless of how well someone performs they are still a person deserving of respect and love. Self-esteem should come from being at peace with who we are, and not from comparisons with others.
    kjonesm1 and dyanmarie25 like this.
  2. dyanmarie25

    dyanmarie25 Community Champion

    I didn't know there are variations/categories of self-esteem. Thank you for sharing this post to us here. Very interesting read.
  3. dakotacensus

    dakotacensus Member

    I'm glad you found it interesting. The issue I think somewhat boils down to focusing on self-esteem before self-acceptance. It is completely understandable that people want to feel good and while the path to self-acceptance still leads there it can take some of us through some dark places first.
  4. CallipygianGamine

    CallipygianGamine Community Champion

    I think this was part of my problem for a while - I was working too much on keeping my self-esteem high, and not giving enough effort to whether it was actually good self-esteem or not. So mine can still fluctuate because I spent a while deriving it from without rather than within. Still working on this.
  5. kjonesm1

    kjonesm1 Community Champion

    I thank you for sharing this.After reading it I realize I might be under the category of high/fragile self esteem. I feel like I am good at almost everything I do. Not because of natural talent, but because of competitiveness and the pure will to do well. I have always considered myself pretty, I've been a state ranked and collegiate athlete and I did well in college classes. The problem with wanting to be good is that I can't stand to fail. I can't stand second place and my self esteem can be fragile when I show short comings. This is something in myself that could use some work and I appreciate you bringing it up.
  6. tasha

    tasha Community Listener Community Listener

    I think that it is important for everyone to realise that they are not someone else and don't have to compare to others. We live in a society where people are critical of what others do and say and what they wear and where they hang out but as you grow or evolve in life you realise that was important is you, your inner peace with yourself and the ability to enjoy life without pressure from anyone around you.
  7. CallipygianGamine

    CallipygianGamine Community Champion

    Yep, change a couple of the particulars and I could say “I don’t remember typing this.” And that fear of failure, it held me back so much. It still crops up more often than I’d like, because I felt that way for so long. So I still need to work on it as well.
  8. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    Very interesting post - I hadn't really thought about the two things being completely different before. People talk about high self esteem as being something to aspire to, but it really is a fine line as to whether that high self esteem is actually beneficial. The example you used about the student not wanting to help someone because they really couldn't gain from it was an interesting one to me and made me think.

    I think I've perhaps been in the high self esteem category before, but I have to work more on it being good self esteem. Thank you for sharing this - it's certainly given me some food for thought!