Self Esteem, Self Confidence, Self Respect, Freedom and Choices
….. When I awakened from my dream that ‘happiness just happens and mostly to other people’ and began to look at myself a few decades ago, I read everything I could read, i.e., every pop psychology book I could find. Nathanial Brandon was one of my favorite writers and I actually used his writings in my lectures promoting self-esteem—that is after I became arrogant enough to believe I had some.
….. Through the reading I learned that Self Esteem is the integration of our self-confidence and self-respect. Both are necessary to balancing our world of freedom and uncertainty. Freedom means that we can make the correct choices–choices that will propel us to greater joy. Most people never recognize how their choices happen. Sometimes we don’t even know we are choosing. Oh, we think long and hard about what refrigerator we want to buy, what music we want to spend our money on; but seldom did we think about the consequences of smoking, unsafe sex, etc. These are not choices so much as spontaneous reactions. We also do not think that hating or not hating is a choice.
Self Confidence allows us to trust the tools of life to make good choices. Self Respect is the result of our understanding that we have goodness. Together these interact, to help us make good choices.
….. The understanding I experienced from this long process of self-improvement, made me realize how imperative it is for each of us to look to improve our self-esteem. Self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself.
….. The correlation between good choices and good self-esteem is indivisible. The importance, particularly in young adults, is diabolical. Young adults who have a strong sense of who they are, have the strength to ignore bad choices and peer pressure.
….. Most of society’s problems stem from an abundance of low self-esteem. People who don’t love themselves are incapable of loving others. (That didn’t come from my reading Brandon, it came from my Italian mother). Back two decades ago when I thought of this ALL the time, I recognized how onerous the problem was. How does one learn self-esteem? It cannot be taught in school because only a select few adults have even reflected upon it AND it is like everything else in life—if you don’t have it, you can’t give it.
Self Esteem and the Child Parent Relationship
….. Brandon states: “Every organism depends on its environment for its successful growth.”
….. Vegetables and flowers cannot grow well if they lack an abundance of good soil, moisture and sunlight. Unfortunately, they cannot choose to alter their environment.
….. Adults and particularly children cannot grow in an environment that does not offer acceptance. Adults are able to choose to transcend an adverse environment. For children, particularly in their primary years, they are at the same disadvantage of the flowers and vegetables. They cannot choose to alter their adversarial environment. Much worse, however is that children attribute their parents with omniscience and omnipotence—parents are all good, all knowing, all loving.
….. Brandon offers this analogy: “When human beings developed the notion of a God who is omniscient and omnipotent, they quickly added the attribute of all-good. It would be too terrifying to imagine a capricious or sadistic God. Therefore, if disaster befalls, the fault must be ours. Someone or something must be sacrificed to appease this God.”
….. Children need to be visible (real & separate) from their parents and in their parent’s eyes. A child needs to feel he can be his own individual self, with important thoughts and ideas. He needs to know that he is responsible for his choices and his ideas. He needs to feel parental trust in his ability to take responsibility for these ideas and choices.
….. When parents, by their behavior (sometimes very well intentioned) protect the child from hurt, or his own feelings, they deny him his responsibility to experience those feelings.
This blog comes from my very old notes. I created the notes from several of Brandon’s writings so I cannot, after all these years direct you to a specific book he wrote.