See Yourself as a Whole Rather than in Parts

See Yourself as a Whole Rather than in Parts

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Why do many super stars, millionaires, and extremely successful people have poor self-esteem?

If you think that a foyer is all there is to a house, you might come to a conclusion that it is a very small house. If Johnny forms an opinion about himself based on a single quality or ability he is short on, he is likely to see himself smaller than he actually is. Take a narrow view of yourself and you can end up with low self-esteem.

People often judge theirs and others' intelligence by a single ability, how good he or she is in the art of the verbal judo, for example. So, if Johnny can't express himself very well and does not have an advanced skill in reading and writing, he and others are likely to see him as not so "smart" or "sharp." But, criteria of smartness are always changing. Now, due to the penetration of computers and Internet in our daily lives, "computerese," instead of verbal intelligence, will soon be regarded as the measure of intelligence.

The fact is that there is not one, but at least ten different "intelligences." Someone high in mechanical intelligence might not be able to express himself succinctly in words. Another person might have superior physical intelligence in sports and athletics, but might not be good in verbal or mechanical abilities. Social, musical, emotional spiritual, and mathematical are a few more examples of human intelligences.

Identify the intelligence or intelligences with which you are blessed and overlook the others.

Placing too much importance on a single ability or skill can become a handicap. Don't let it. There has always been more than one road that leads to Rome. Likewise, any one of a thousand skills can make Johnny successful, but he must believe in himself and go to work with enthusiasm and doggedness.

Our self-esteem is based on who we think we are. The body, health, sexuality, job performance, family, quality of relationships, general sense well-being, and others are all aspects of who we think we are. Psychologists call them "sub-identities."

It is estimated that subconsciously each one of us, on average, carries two hundred sub-identities. However, consciously, we judge ourselves on just a few sub-identities. The result is a partial and highly limited view of self. It is like trying to see yourself in a dentist's tooth mirror. All you would see is a couple of teeth at a time. Just because one tooth needs a filling doesn't mean you need a total facelift.

To assess yourself comprehensively, take a paper and pencil and identify at least ten dimensions with which to assess yourself. Here are a few you may include with your own: as a parent, partner, child, sibling, worker, neighbor, and community member; physical, psychological and spiritual health; personality traits and what people who know you well say about you. A systematic self-assessment such as this with paper and pencil may reduce the chances of overvaluing some and undervaluing other strengths or weaknesses.

See your weaknesses for what they are rather than giving yourself pejorative labels. For example, instead of saying to yourself, "I am lousy on the phone" view it as, "I tense up on the phone." Negative labels such as "lousy" "stupid" or "fat" offer no help in solving the problem one needs to address.

Be specific in your assessment of the problem. Avoid such generalizations as, " I always…" or "I never…" because, objectively, sometimes you do better than at other times. There must be times when you do better even if those are exceptions. Identify those exceptions. Find strengths to balance the weaknesses. Self-esteem is often improved by such maneuvers.

Be accurate in your assessment. Instead of stating the problem as "I am too fat" or "I need to get rid of this fat," identify it accurately such as, "I need to lose 20 pounds." Protect your self-esteem from the onslaught of "body slamming." Too many people in this world have their self-esteem lower than their shoes because they feel they are "fat" or "ugly."

You can make your self-esteem immune to your body. A happy fat person can have a better life than an unhappy fat person. If the body lowers your self-esteem, causes pain and other problems or doesn't function the way you want it to function, it is better to think that you are more than your body. Some who successfully adjust to a physical handicap concentrate more on the fact that they are something other than a physical body.

Regret or self-blame about mistakes you made can lower your self-esteem. Handle your mistakes correctly, that is, learn from them and correct what you can.

Respond to criticism by accepting only the constructive criticism and rejecting the rest.

If you have money, give yourself a pat on your back. If you don't, regard it as, "just money." Money or lack of it is not a problem but measuring self-worth by how much money or material wealth one has is.

No exceptional abilities or talents are necessary for satisfactory self-esteem. Someone once said, "I don't have to be extraordinary in order to feel good about myself. I can be ordinary and still feel good about myself." That's the way to go about it.

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Copyright 2001, Mind Publications 


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