“I can project an image of assurance and poise that fools almost everyone and yet secretly tremble with a sense of my inadequacy. “
— Nathaniel Branden
About three years ago, I was doing a presentation at my university and I aced it through and through. My posture was perfect, my free-flowing words were perfect, my voice sounded right. For every question, I had a suiting answer. I stood in the center of the room, and I handled this pressure situation with graces and coolness. I think that everybody, was impressed by my confidence and skill. I felt powerful, because I knew, that not one of the 50 people in that room, could do it better. I left a perfect display of competence and self-esteem.
And deep down, I needed that so much! I hungered for the feeling of power, to calm my sense of inadequacy.
Most people are paper-thin. We hide behind a display of competence and confidence, but lack true self-esteem. What is true self-esteem? Self esteem is the trusting in our internal processes to appropriately deal with all of life. And the fundamental belief that we are worthy of happiness and success. Self-Esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves.
Many of us lack, in at least one of the two. Deep down, we feel like something is wrong with us. This state is painful, and what do we do with pain? We avoid it. Best way to do so, is the display of confidence. “When I convinced everybody else of my self-esteem and self-worth, I surely will convince myself aswell.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. Without examining the root issues of the feeling of inadequacy, it will remain.
Pseudo Vs. True:
Pseudo self-esteem is limited to one situation or one area of life. In my case, it was limited to the presentation. As long as I remain in control of the situation and nothing unpredicted happens, I can display self-esteem. As soon as I lose control, my display will crumble. This is where self-esteem is put to the test.
Most of us navigate our comfort zones with ease. If we have been working at a job for 10 years straight, we know how it’s done. This is our territory. Everything is familiar to us, we feel at home. It is easy, to play cool in your own home. But how about outside? Let’s take a step outside and see, how much self-esteem we really have. Pseudo self-esteem is pretty easy to spot. When shit hits the fan, we lose our cool, real quick. Strong negative emotions surface. Usually it’s fear and anxiety, but aggression or depression are also really common. We close ourselves off or we lash out and attack with unnecessary force.
If we enjoy true self-esteem, we are not bound to one area of expertise. True self-esteem doesn’t need control and it is not afraid of the unfamiliar. It moves freely and lightly, it is not rigid. True self-esteem is unphased by uncertainty and it doesn’t need to be displayed. It needs no validation from outside sources, it is content in itself. When shit goes side-way and bad things happen, true self-esteem stays calm and open. It remains functional and focused.
Aim for true self-esteem, instead of pseudo self-esteem!
Introspect deeply. Get to know yourself, and then fight for it. Say what you mean, and do what you think is right. Trust in your judgements, and face the discomforts you have been avoiding. Pay the emotional cost of being outside of your area of expertise. Endure fear, doubt and failure. Stay with it, tolerate it, don’t run from it. Trust in your capacities to think, act and somehow make it to the other side.
The old “fake it till you make it” won’t cut it, when you are building true self-esteem. Pseudo self-esteem will never turn into real self-esteem. Real self-esteem must be earned, it is an achievement of productive suffering.
If you are serious about it, read the following article. Its topic is fundamental for healthy self-esteem.
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