Low Self-Esteem does not Make People Aggressive
  By Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
 Low self-esteem can make you depressed.  It can make you anxious and insecure, but it doesn't make you aggressive or violent.  
This is a lesson Californians learned recently after spending millions of dollars on an ambitious school based self-esteem project.  The self-esteem-raising groups neither helped the grades of the participating children nor did they make them less aggressive.  

People with low self-esteem tend to be shy.  They are unsure of themselves.  They may be hesitant to take risk and reluctant to enter new and unfamiliar territories.  People with low self-esteem are more likely to blame themselves for their failures than to blame other people or circumstance.  This tendency makes them reluctant to venture into anything that might result in failure or make them unduly self-critical.  If this becomes an enduring pattern, it is likely to cause feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and self-hate resulting in depression.  

Aggressive people are not like that.  They tend to blame other people and circumstances.  They are risk-takers and are not shy of entering (they may even loiter there) those danger zones where others fear to tread.  Aggressive people tend to view themselves in a favorable and self-serving light.  Many aggressive people, especially, the hard-core aggressors, regard themselves as superior to others and think they are entitled to receive special treatment.  They would react aggressively to anyone they see as a threat to their inflated opinion of themselves. 

High self-esteem makes people feel good about themselves and it is a good experience to have.  Educators, therapists, parents and anyone else involved in caring for and educating children should be alert and attentive to the signs of low self-esteem.  They should be provided with positive experiences and, above all, the skills that would make them feel competent. Don't let high self-esteem become a substitute for the right skills and right knowledge.  

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