LEARN MORE ABOUT SELF-RESPECT AND HOW TO APPRECIATE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
-- Updated October 7, 2010 --
Welcome to Dr. Sterling's Self-Appreciation Web Page!
The problem with the term "self-esteem" is that it defines a quality that, in and of itself, is not necessarily a positive attribute. Studies have shown that too much self-esteem -- not too little -- can be a key factor in determining aggressive and violent behavior. That's the message from three researchers who analyzed more that 150 studies in psychology and criminology, then published their findings in the February 1996 edition of the scientific journal Psychology Review.
"The societal pursuit of high self-esteem for everyone may literally end up doing considerable harm," the researchers say in the journal, which was published by the American Psychological Association. They found aggressive people have unusually high self-esteem -- defined as "a favorable global evaluation of oneself" -- especially compared to achievements.
The research was immediately challenged by self-esteem proponents who said they had seen success with their self-esteem enhancement programs. But the study has potentially profound implications for dealing with social problems linked to aggression, from gangs and rapists to angry, hostile Type A personalities. The study found that aggressive, violent and hostile people -- such as neo-Nazis, spouse-abusers and members of the Klu Klux Klan -- "consistently express favorable views of themselves."
A respect for one's self and for other people comes from a knowledge or feeling that we possess loveable qualities within ourselves and that every person has their own particular talents, abilities, uniqueness, and value in the scheme of life. It is not so much about "do we like ourselves?" It is more about "do we believe we are likeable and loveable"?
If we have been taught by hostile or overly-critical people in our lives that we are not loveable or likeable, we may not be able to appreciate fully our own talents, abilities, and positive points, or we may over-compensate and think we are so good there is no room for any improvement, nor should anyone criticize us.
A very important part of the process of appreciation is "assessment" which implies "self-assessment." If you find yourself being overly-critical of yourself, you may be able to trace that assessment style to how other people often judged you in the past.
We each tend to incorporate the words of those who had power over us when we were growing up and if they were overly-critical, then we may continue to use those assessments of ourselves in spite of our accomplishments and in spite of how many people may like us. We either literally talk ourselves out of believing the positive things that people say about us because we are so "programmed" to believe the opposite, or we set things up so no one could like us by screwing up all the time. Sometimes, children who have grown up with adults who were constantly critical and abusive are so excruciatingly sensitive to criticism of any kind that they become loners, very defensive people, or attackers as adults.
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