Self Esteem — How Is Yours?

Last week, I attended a self-esteem conference conducted by Alan Weiss. The lack thereof is one of the most debilitating psychological factors affecting so many people, even very educated and successful people.

The conference, held in Rhode Island, was well worth the travel. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but it caused significant introspection; most people shared their experiences and concerns as well. That, alone, was worth attending. We found out that many of us share the same journey, a sharing that seldom occurs, even with loved ones.

Here are some learning points suggested by Alan:

•    A large proportion of attendees (about 75%) felt “alone” when very young, either because they perceived themselves to be different from others or were somehow not in a “traditional,” loving family. No wonder that so many sole practitioners today still feel alone, feel comfortable being alone and yet value the collaboration of colleagues on forums such as Solosez.
•    “Lone wolves” don’t have much opportunity for exploring emotional issues with trusted peers. Life and work revolves too greatly solely around work, and most conversation is centered on work challenges, not personal issues.
•    Efficacy and self-worth are separate. You can be excellent at a given pursuit, but not feel good about yourself, and vice versa. This may be one of the most difficult challenges facing people in our materialistic and "hard-charging" society.
•    Personal relationships are a key foundation of self-worth. If you can positively and constructively engage in your personal relationships, your self-worth improves. Those fortunate to be in close, loving families are truly blessed.
•    You can look at self-esteem as a “verb,” an action, leading to a condition, or “noun”: self confidence.
•    Positive self-talk is one of the most powerful tools to build self-worth. Stop apologizing and be honest about your own talent and abilities. Don’t generalize from a specific: Just because you didn’t understand a play doesn’t mean you’re ignorant about art.
•    It’s not about what life deals you, it’s how you deal with life. This is the key to success! This is what made survivors out of those living through concentrations camps on the one hand and natural disasters such as Katrina on the other hand.

As my wife said to me tonight, "… life is not easy; life is dangerous. But, it’s better than the alternative."  Speaking for myself at least, I really do live a blessed life. As I get older, I realize this even more. And the challenges and periodic misfortunes are just that, challenges and misfortunes, not tragedies.


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