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To think that self esteem is something of a myth?

(143 Posts)
SwearyGodmother Thu 11-Jun-15 10:25:43

I'm currently in therapy for a number of issues but the one thing my therapist keeps coming back to is self esteem/self compassion and liking oneself. It really doesn't make sense to me and seems a bit self indulgent to think "well aren't I rather good and worthwhile" and I just can't fathom anyone in the real world doing that. Surely it's a bit smug and boastful?

AIBU to think that it's all a bit made up and most people feel a bit "meh" about themselves?

SaucyJack Thu 11-Jun-15 10:30:58


I'm fucking fabulous wink

But liking yourself and having good self-esteem doesn't mean being arrogant. It's about recognising your good points (and we all have them), but also valuing yourself enough not to put up with being treated like crap.

Unless you're the reincarnation of Hitler, you need to convince yourself that you don't deserve it.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Thu 11-Jun-15 10:35:25


Self esteem is about valuing yourself and your own needs. Having boundaries. Also self acceptance I think - we all have strengths and weaknesses - and it's partly about recognising both, without beating yourself up for the weaknesses.

WinterOfOurDiscountTents15 Thu 11-Jun-15 10:35:40

YABU. I'm fucking awesome, I simply can't help it. How do you expect anyone else to rate you if you don't rate yourself?

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jun-15 10:36:55

Well there are many people in therapy who actually don't like themselves and have very low self esteem.

I'm no therapist but I imagine this is a huge barrier.

Therefore I think YABU. It's not smug or boastful, but more about the damage we can do to ourselves if we don't like ourselves....because very often that means not expecting other people to like us either if that makes sense?

viva100 Thu 11-Jun-15 10:37:32

No, actually I do feel pretty good about myself these days. I do think I'm fairly good looking and intelligent. It's not boastful, I don't go around saying it to people. And it is very important to have good self esteem. It's important to be confident both in relationships and in the professional world. People don't want to date those who are insecure and put themselves down all the time. Plus, I notice that when I was younger and very insecure I made bad decisions about men, always settled for twats because I thought the really good ones wouldn't want to date me. When I started feeling better about myself my relationships improved - less jealousy and insecurity, picked men who really respected me.
And in work, it really is very important to be confident, especially in interviews when dealing with clients and working in teams. Insecurity makes you look like you don't know what you're doing (and it does come across, you can't hide it very well).

There's a big difference between having a good self esteem and arrogance.

WhereYouLeftIt Thu 11-Jun-15 10:38:04

Sorry, YABU.

Having self-esteem isn't about feeling that you a 'rather good' but it is about feeling that you are worthwhile. And by being worthwhile, it is wrong for someone else to treat you like shite, and you don't have to put up with it.

Think of self-esteem as being akin to your ability to feel physical pain. That sense of pain helps you to stop your body being damaged, e.g. by snatching your hand off the hot hob. Self-esteem helps you to stop your 'self' from being damaged, by telling you you're in a situation which is not good for you and you need to remove yourself from it.

MephistophelesApprentice Thu 11-Jun-15 10:38:23


We don't trust scientists who make statements without peer review. It's too subjective. Your impact on others is the true measure of your worth and that's not something anyone can assess from within.

PenguinBollards Thu 11-Jun-15 10:38:54

AIBU to think that it's all a bit made up and most people feel a bit "meh" about themselves?

YABU, but you're viewing this through the lens of the issues that you're having therapy for, and so it's entirely understandable that right now this seems like an unattainable concept.

I'm in my 40s, I'm heavier than I've ever been, I'm more exhausted than I've ever been, my work is busier than it's ever been, but I can truly say that I've reached a point in my life where I'm utterly accepting of who I am, and as a result my self-esteem is very healthy.

I haven't always felt like this, but I certainly don't feel smug for feeling that I am a good and worthwhile person.

JassyRadlett Thu 11-Jun-15 10:39:03

You've put your finger on it - self esteem is just a way to describe how you feel about yourself. And how you feel about yourself influences your other emotions and the way you behave, so it's a reasonable thing for a therapist to be talking about.

You feel 'meh' about yourself. No, not everyone does, and it's worth exploring in therapy why you feel that way about yourself, and the impact it may have on various aspects of your life.

LaurieFairyCake Thu 11-Jun-15 10:39:31

The problem is that the women routinely put others needs first which leads to depression/low self esteem. Pretty much every mother ive seen in therapy put everyone before themselves.

Valuing self is not arrogance, it's entirely necessary for good mental health.

whothehellknows Thu 11-Jun-15 10:39:31

Sorry OP, it isn't made up. I'm sure there are things I could do better if I tried harder, but overall I think I'm pretty cool. I don't boast about it, though, because people who meet me can tell I'm awesome without me having to brag grin

ilovesooty Thu 11-Jun-15 10:39:59

No it's not a myth, and there have been some excellent explanations here.
I didn't realise the importance of it until I did my counselling training.

zippyone Thu 11-Jun-15 10:40:24

Lots of people do feel a bit "meh" about themselves but self esteem is about loving yourself (not in a vain, arrogant way), real love.

If you don't love yourself and be kind to yourself that is no good for you.

For example, if you are really stressed and it is affecting your health then you must take time for yourself as a priority by having a relaxing bath, getting a massage etc. That is how I see loving yourself which builds self esteem.

JassyRadlett Thu 11-Jun-15 10:41:13

Your impact on others is the true measure of your worth

...which is also inherently subjective.

HeadDreamer Thu 11-Jun-15 10:42:11

Another thinking YABU. I don't think I'm fabulous. I have many shortcomings. But I have good self esteem. For example, MIL criticising me didn't hurt a bit because I frankly don't care what she thinks. I know what I'm good at and what I'm not. I'm not insecure about what I'm not good at.

Hope it makes sense to you. It's not about thinking you are better than everyone else.

MephistophelesApprentice Thu 11-Jun-15 10:44:36

...which is also inherently subjective.

Yes, but from multiple external perspectives, which is the closest to objectivity we'll find in this universe.

HeadDreamer Thu 11-Jun-15 10:44:41

And yes I do put myself first a lot of the time. Just don't realise until everyone else mentions it here. I definitely don't do the matyr

tumbletumble Thu 11-Jun-15 10:46:20

I have good self esteem too. That doesn't mean I think I'm brilliant or go around showing off - in fact one of my strengths is that I'm very modest smile

It just means that I like myself and believe that other people will choose to spend time with me.

JassyRadlett Thu 11-Jun-15 10:48:49

Still not an easy measurable, based as it is on the self-reporting of other people

But then I don't think self-esteem is about measuring one's inherent or relative worth. It's about how you feel about yourself as a person. If one feels one is worth very little, one is likely to make decisions and behave in a way that accords with that self-view.

There's quite a bit of peer-reviewed science on the subject, unsurprisingly.

dontrunwithscissors Thu 11-Jun-15 10:52:32

I see it as being content with who you are and what you have. I think this is something that often comes with age. At 39, I am far, far happier than I was at 21. I definitely have much better self-esteem. I would never want to go back to my younger years. I have my imperfections and problems--no doubt--but I can accept them and not dwell on them. It's about accepting the past (& past mistakes and traumas); not allowing them them to define me.

I can understand how someone with low self-esteem can have such a mindset that the idea of liking oneself is incomprehensible. I suffer from depression, when my self-esteem disappears. I believe I'm a terrible, useless person who deserves to suffer. It colours the way I see everything and my relationship with loved ones. That may be part of the reason why, outside of depressive episodes, I'm a happy and content person. I know what it's like to feel defined by your mistakes and imperfections. The relief when I get back to 'me' is immense. Contentment and self-esteem is a wonderful feeling to have when you have lost it.

MephistophelesApprentice Thu 11-Jun-15 10:52:42

If how you internally overestimate your value, the impact on other people can be profound. It's how selfishness begins.

SaucyJack Thu 11-Jun-15 10:53:01

Your impact on others is the true measure of your worth

Actually, I completely disagree.

Self-esteem comes from within, not from the validation of other people. You could live alone in a fairy tale tower, and still be an excellent and worthwhile person if you were living your life in a way that you considered meaningful and fulfilling.

Obvious, this doesn't apply if you're actively a cunt to other people.

SwearyGodmother Thu 11-Jun-15 10:53:15

Your impact on others is the true measure of your worth

I don't really understand this. Surely we shouldn't impact on others? I mean, who am I to make any impact/have any effect on someone else's life? It's not my place, surely?

Those who are reporting good self esteem - how do you reconcile when people are unkind/point out character flaws in you? Doesn't it shake your core belief in your self?

Penfolds5 Thu 11-Jun-15 10:55:48


I think "building self esteem" is barking up the wrong tree. Undervaluing and overvaluing the self are, to my mind, two sides of the same coin.

It's getting away from a focus on the self at all that leads to contentment and peace. None of us is brilliant, none of us is awful. We're just all stuff, all part of a much, much wider system that we don't understand.

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