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Spo-fans occasionally email me with requests I will write about a certain topic. I am always honored by this.  A little while ago, someone asked I write about “Self esteem”. What a topic!  It’s taken me some time to compose something compact enough to be readable, but retainable – and not sound mawkish. Here it goes……

First of all, I want to answer the Spo-fan’s question if Love or Self-Esteem is more significant. The answer is Self-esteem. I see Self-esteem as the most significant powerful human experience. Without Self-esteem, how can we really love another? Without esteem, Love becomes a private agenda.

I better get my definitions down before I go any further.

Self-esteem is the ability to hold yourself in respect to be strong enough not to compromise who you are for the sake of social affection or success.  Your sense of who you are is not dependent on the world for appraisal, safety, or love.

We are not born with self-esteem, it is something we learn. Hopefully we learn we can handle anything. For example, if we have to be alone, we can, and do OK.  If Life sucks, we will manage somehow.

The Spo-fan also wanted to know about esteem in our jobs. I think you can tell you have good esteem in your job or in your role when you can see your skill as “no big deal”. Beyond the usual need for thanks and appreciation, nothing more is required. If you ‘need’ recognition this is usually a sign of lack of esteem rather.

I think I have good esteem in my role as a psychiatrist.  I have never needed to cram my “MD” down anyone’s throat. Psychiatry has never been a case of ‘This is who I am, and if I can’t be this/have others see me in this Persona, I will disintegrate.” It has never been my Self-identity. Really. Perhaps because Heaven gave me instead the passion to be a writer. No kidding, it bugs me I can’t find a novel in me. It doesn’t bug me I am not a nationally known psychiatrist or working at Yale.

Another sign of good esteem at work is how you respond to skeptics. You announce at a party you are really good with accupuncture. Someone states he or she doesn’t believe in what you are doing or has no respect for this. Are you going to get mad or hold your ground? Do you need other’s approval and applause?

Please don’t think I have Self-esteem all figured out, or I have achieved it in its entirety.  I am growing as anyone else. I am a Polynesian educating my fellow islanders about icebergs.

I hope that helped !

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September 2010

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