You may have heard about the current ‘Self-Esteem’ backlash, announcing that the ‘Self-Esteem Movement’ of the 1970’s and 80’s actually did more harm than good. We are ready for a new way of thinking about Self-Esteem. What if Self-Esteem doesn’t come in high or low, simply Conditional or Unconditional? What if no-one or any situation could ever ‘lower’ your self-esteem?
Most research regrading self-esteem in the workplace uses the old, dis-empowering idea that people or circumstances can affect your self-esteem. The research is conflicting because of the flawed ‘high or low’ approach and also because the researchers treat self-esteem as a noun when it is in fact a verb. Self-esteem is something you choose to do yourself. You esteem yourself, it’s not something you can hold in your hands.
If you esteem yourself conditionally, you believe you must earn the right to be worthy. Your value and worth is conditional upon meeting certain criteria. You strive to achieve things to prove your worth to yourself and others by constantly doing and achieving (because you need to). You might end up being a high achiever or successful, but you will still feel like you are endlessly chasing your tail, trying desperately to feel good about yourself – only it doesn’t last long. You are only as good as your last performance. Off you go chasing your tail again. Exhausting.
The solution is Unconditional Self-Esteem.
If you esteem yourself unconditionally you believe in your value and worth as a human being without question. You have a solid sense of innate worth and dignity. You have unconditional love for yourself. Even when you stuff up and make huge mistakes, you still know you are valuable as a person. Even if your colleagues criticize and question you or try to belittle you, your sense of value and worth can remain intact. You know you are more than your behaviours, your stuff-ups, your achievements and your performance. You consider your value, importance and significance as a person is a given. Nice.