I think I was like that at one point, but something changed. Back when I was younger, I didn't have self esteem issues. I was just a happy kid, observing the world around me and I barely even thinking about myself. Something changed during the teenage years and......I think a lot of people undergo that change but very few manage to retain this state I talked about. I did once go back to this state some time back and I remember feeling this overwhelming confidence in me.
It takes time for people to learn all the various ways that they're "wrong". I think that peaks for most people during adolescence. Maturity involves unlearning a lot of that -- learning how to be your own person even if other people don't approve. Children do what they want/act on impulse. Then they learn what they're supposed to do/not do. Then they learn to think for themselves (hopefully).
In fact now that I say this, what you said before is now ringing true. I didn't have that much to be proud of when I was a kid either.....no sports trophies or medals or competitions won...….so by my logic, I should have had self-hatred....but I didn't. I didn't have anything. And that was a nice state. To have neither self-hatred or pride. But I don't know.....is that the right way to look at it?
There isn't really a lot of need for that -- trophies, etc. -- when you're living authentically, doing what you want to do, because you're enjoying what you're doing. But our interests get attached to long-term goals and we start to worry about how we compare to other people because we need to be better at those things if we want to make a career out of them, etc. When you fail to outperform other people, you get mad at yourself and punish yourself. You blame yourself for not working hard enough.
But self-punishment doesn't work very well. If you're simply unable to outperform other people (as most people are, in most areas of their lives) what happens is you end up blaming and punishing yourself all the time for your failures (you're too fat, too poor, too ugly, etc.). But someone has to be below average. Even if everyone tries their hardest and does their best all the time, half the population is going to be failing compared to the other half. That's an awful lot of people to condemn to a self-perpetuating cycle of self-hatred. And no matter what traits anyone has, no matter how hard anyone works, someone has to be last
. Imagine being that person.
So success isn't really about how hard anyone is working, because nothing can change the fact that someone will be first and someone will be last; it's a logical and inevitable property of hierarchies. If you use self-hate to whip yourself into action, you might outperform other people, but only at the expense of those people. If A outperforms B, B feels worse about themselves; if B outperforms A, A feels worse. There's no way to avoid toxic outcomes in a culture of hierarchical worth. The only way to avoid the toxicity is to not make your self-worth depend on outcomes.
Whether or not this is the right way to look at it is up to you. I'm just showing you how I think about it.
Oh boy this para has really confused me...…..the whole concept of '' self-worth '' is so subjective. How do you equate it to 2+2? Saying 2+2=4 is something that can be logically proven. It's a fact. But you can't logically prove that someone has self-worth? Because what scale are you using to measure it......and what are you even measuring?
You're right. It's so subjective that ranking people is impossible
. When I say it's like 2 + 2 = 4, what I mean it that it's that obvious to me that feeling superior or inferior to other people is just a wrong way to think. If I want to convince you, I have to use logic, but I don't need logic to see that it's wrong myself. It's self-evident to me. Just like I don't need logic to see that it's wrong to say "blue is better than orange". A statement like that is meaningless as anything but an expression of preference.
People certainly prefer
some people to other people, and a person who is more preferred ("popular") is in an objectively better position than a person who is less preferred, but there's no actual way to prove that that person is objectively
better than anyone else. What are you measuring? People are made up of hundreds, thousands of traits. All of those traits have been conditioned by things nobody had any control over (genetics, family of birth, country of birth, etc.), and even the degree of that trait is subjective. Is A actually
smarter than B? How do you know? Is C actually
prettier than D? In whose opinion? Even those are subjective questions.
You can be more objective about things like who's better at math, or who's better at playing guitar, but most of the traits that we're using to judge each other's worth are largely subjective. Is it better to be a rich and successful sellout or a poor but authentic artist? How do you know the sellout isn't living authentically? How do you know the starving artist isn't adopting a pose? How do you rank things like that? All anyone ever does is express their subjective opinion based on the traits they happen to value.
Statistically, ofc, you will find some agreement -- more people think A is better than B -- and that's mostly what we mean by this kind of comparison. We use what we think we know about aggregate preferences to judge ourselves and other people. But there's no reason for you to agree with those preferences. If I simply don't agree with how other people think about things, then my self-worth can be radically different from the worth that most people assign to me and my opinion can be just as valid. If 99 people prefer blue and 1 person prefers orange, it doesn't mean that one person is wrong. It's just a preference.
What does anyone gain by trying to rank people like this? People mostly look down on other people because it makes them feel better than themselves. "Poor people are lazy; not like me, I worked hard for my money." "Rich people are corrupt and greedy; not like me, I'm not materialistic." These are just ways of rationalizing our experiences to preserve our self-esteem. And that's only necessary when your self-esteem is conditional. It doesn't do me any good to look down on anyone because my self-esteem isn't conditional. (Which is not to say that particular behaviors don't bother me.)
My main doubt now is, why does a person's self-love have to be unconditional......especially when their love to someone else has to be conditional? You said earlier in this thread that most people don't bother with other people unless they have a reason to find them interesting. So their interest in the other person is conditional.
I know a person doesn't treat themselves the same way they treat strangers, but why should there be such a difference between how people view other people and how they view themselves? I mean we're all people ultimately. Shouldn't we treat others how we treat ourselves?
I never said that you should love
other people conditionally. Love is wanting what is best for a person, whether that person is yourself or someone else. Granted it's hard, but ideally, everyone would feel that way. Most of the time, now, I want what's best for other people, even if I don't like them. Ofc, because I'm responsible for my life, I have to make decisions to protect and nurture that life. No one else can do that for me, so that has to take precedence. I don't sacrifice my own well-being for the well-being of others unless I can prevent more harm than I'll suffer because that would be treating myself differently from the way I treat everyone else. I have to respect my own feelings and wants and needs as much as I respect other people's feelings and wants and needs. That's what justifies my setting boundaries, demanding fair treatment, etc.
Wanting what's best for everyone does not mean that I have to like
everyone (or myself, all the time, for that matter). I have no control over who I like and who I don't like. I'm better off spending time with people I like, though, because that will be a better environment for my own growth. Ofc, if someone is in a really bad way, I'll do what I can to help them. I let a guy I can't stand live in my garage for 17 months because he would have been homeless otherwise. But I'm not in a position to go around looking for homeless people to shelter.
Unconditional self-love does not mean you affirm all
of your traits and behaviors; it means you want what's best for yourself, which often means eliminating bad traits and behaviors. Good parenting does not mean you let your children play in the street. The difference between conditional and unconditional is that there's no self-punishment involved in unconditional self-love. And denying yourself love is a form of punishment/abuse. Just like a parent denying their child love would be a form of abuse. "I'll let you feel good about yourself if you do X" is the definition of an abusive relationship. What if you can't do X? What if you can't
get a gf? What if you can't
get a good job? Are you just going to deny yourself love for years and years and years? It's incredibly unhealthy. And yet many people do exactly that.
Maybe a large part of self esteem is just an illusion created by the culture.....maybe its just confused people.
Lots of the things we consider "facts of life" are not facts at all. They're particular ways of framing experiences. If the frame changes, they stop being facts. For a long time, going to hell for being a sinner was a fact that most people took for granted. I never grew up with that fact, so I have never worried about going to hell. "I'm better/worse than you" is the same kind of fact, imo.