If you are wondering where your self-esteem stands, I have discovered a lovely little test. It’s simply this:
Have a conversation with another person or group of people. Then listen. Don’t try to add to the conversation. You can ask more questions, but I want you to hear them speaking and, as you do, to observe your thoughts.
Healthy self-esteem is present when you hear and understand what others are saying without thinking about yourself much at all. More specifically, you don’t think about how what they are saying relates to you. You may use the word “I,” but it will always be in reference to the other person or people, for example:
“I wonder what I can do to help.”
“[I think] that is very interesting…”
“Wow, [I think] she is a really good friend.”
“Hmm…[I think] she doesn’t seem like a very good friend.”
Notice that what you think doesn’t have to be positive to indicate healthy self-esteem. The last comment is quite critical. However, your thought must be simply an observation.
Conversely, compromised self-esteem shows up in the following types of reactions:
“They are so much more together than I am.”
“I wish I had her life.”
“I’m so much better than she is.”
‘What are they thinking about me’ thoughts:
“Am I saying the right things in response?”
“Does how I’m reacting make me look good?”
“I hope this conversation makes her like me.”
Compromised self-esteem can also be discovered via poor or judgmental listening:
“I wish he would finish so I can say what I think (inability to listen to others).”
“I know how she can fix her problem (solving without being asked to).”
“She’s stupid (labeling).”
This is all food for thought, and not a reason for self-flagellation nor conceit. Consider that we cannot understand another’s feelings unless we have also experienced them (no one who has experienced depression would tell a depressed person just to choose to be happy). Rather, it is through our exposure to compromised self-esteem that we can relate to, understand, and interact better with others. Our goal is still to work towards having healthy self-esteem (it does affect absolutely everything that we do: work, parenting, relationships, straight-up living). Yet don’t forgo the gifts that unfold from our bouts of self-doubt. They are important.
In it all with you,
KerriEmail This Post to A Friend