What is Self-Esteem?

Most negative conditions in life, both psychological and external, can be traced back to one underlying cause:

A lack of self-esteem.

Whole sectors of the modern economy rely on this lack and play off the powerful addictions and drives we seek to fulfill by the acquiring of goods that denote status and temporarily bolster pride.

Many books are written about how to acquire self-esteem, talking about it as if it were simply a set of beliefs one can acquire by proper internal manipulation.

But self-esteem is not the inevitable outcome of positive beliefs.

It is part of our rewards system, the most integral, least hedonistic part, that grants us joy and lasting confidence, not in return for mindless pleasures and dopamine triggers, but for virtuous action.

Lack of self-esteem is what you get when your behaviors and thought patterns do not live up to your unconscious standards of the proper and good.

Many people, in an attempt to escape from their own standards, drop those standards and thus gain the illusion of self-esteem. This is a difficult hole to come out of because once you reject your own standards and accept the improper behavior, you lose sight of what was meant to guide the course of your life.

This is why low self-esteem leads to deep bouts of hopelessness and bottomless depression. Because if you lose sight of those standards, that higher guiding force within your psyche, the future does indeed become a dark place.

It is also why to have high self-esteem is to be largely optimistic, because if you submit to your own standards, your life will proceed as is best for your capabilities and desires. A positive projection of the future will be appropriate to your conduct because your conduct will align with your goals.

Self-esteem is directly correlated with the size of the divide between you and your goals. The farther away you are from that conduct which would eventually accomplish your goals, the lower your self-esteem will be.

Self-esteem is a reward, not a treasure to dig up out of your psyche or something to be granted via the acquisition of high-status objects and environments.

 

The Victim Mentality

What utility is there in identifying as a victim?

Perhaps it could help you be rid of guilt at having suffered at the hands of something truly beyond your control.

Or it could help you cultivate resentment at the thing which victimized you, in order to better focus your efforts on resistance.

But at what cost?

To be a victim is to be defeated and without agency, and occasionally, that truly is the state you’re in.

If someone threatens you with violence and demands your money, for the duration of that interaction, you are a victim.

But two weeks later, when the gun and the criminal are nowhere near you, are you still a victim?

You are if you choose to be.

All your problems can be blamed on the attacker, every financial woe, every insecurity, it can all be that guy’s fault. If not for the mugger, you would have had the money to do so and so, and then something great would have happened, and then you wouldn’t be in such a sorry state.

Is that narrative true?

If you believe it.

But perhaps you were walking somewhere when you obviously shouldn’t have been, and the entire situation could have been avoided if you had possessed better situational awareness.

That’s a difficult narrative to digest. Condemning. Unsympathetic.

But if that is the story, the power lies in your hands. Not the attackers.

Because the truth is, we identify as victims because it allows us to narrow our own influence in an attempt to shirk responsibility for the chaotic world around us.

Victims exchange power and responsibility for the illusion of safety and innocence in the wake of their missteps.

Is that an appealing trade?

Passion is Pride

Attempting to change the world according to one’s vision is a tremendous act of pride.

It is a declaration that you are not some lowly creature, unworthy of being, but instead an entity with divine creative agency.

To create is to declare you are worthy of creation.

To transform the external is to put faith in the internal.

The passive and the malevolently destructive suffer most of all from a lack of faith in their own humanity. They see the aspirations of others as vain, and believe all ambition stems from a domineering greed.

To them, all billionaires are evil, and all artists pathetically self obsessed.

Fortunately, most do not subscribe to this sort of nihilistic self loathing.

Most people think the world is improvable, and thus worth improving, Many take on this task as a personal responsibility, and trust that compensation will come as an inevitable result of their efforts.

If you recognize your creative impulse as a fragment of the divine, motivation and pride will become your default mode of being.

And if the word “divine” bothers you, think of it this way;

Your consciousness is the result of three billion years of reiterative design and engineering, eventually resulting in the human brain. And you don’t have to be religious to recognize the human brain is the single most complex object in the known universe.

So be prideful, without hubris. Understand what powers you possess, and what responsibility those powers bestow upon you.

Because without that pride, without that profound self belief, what right have you to create?

What right have you to exist?

Pride is a necessity, not a luxury.

And those without it condemn not only themselves, but the entire human race.