Recently, I realised how now, it's so easy to increase your self-esteem. Granted it's externally validated, but all you need to do is go on Facebook, write a status or upload a picture and people will validate it. Whatever happened to becoming self-validated through personal accomplishments? What are your thoughts?
I should elaborate on this post. Every day I check my Facebook newsfeed before I work in the hope that one day, I will read a status from someone who has accomplished a goal and is humbly sharing their happiness.
Sadly, this seldom happen.
Today, a friend of mine published his first book and thanked his friends for their support; it garnered, maybe, ten likes. I was one of them. I was really happy for him. What an accomplishment.
Below, another friend of mine uploaded another picture of herself and it garnered fifty.
And, what’s worse is the false modesty that’s accompanied by it. You have 1000 friends? Ask one of them to take a picture of you.
It used to really anger me that people will real accomplishments would be overshadowed, but sadly, there’s nothing I can do about it.
I guess the reason I wrote this is because I realised how important it is to be your own hero, your own role model and to validate yourself because if no one else will do it (and nor should they), who will?
I see this as part of a trend to not having to accomplish to feel like you have. Watching a movie makes you feel like you were on a hero's journey, playing video games makes you feel like you've overcome adversity, posting on Facebook gives validation to the idea that the day's occurrences are actual achievements.
Probably not a good thing for society, but I find it motivating to achieve real things. It's a good reminder.
Here are some thoughts:
Most people don't think about why they do things, as Tynan described really well here: tynan.com/convenient. Most people don't think about why they value certain things either. People will judge your behaviour, your actions and your thoughts. But not every opinion is thought out. Both approval and disapproval are often not well reasoned, or not reasoned at all.
I think it is good to ask yourself these questions: How much do I value other people's opinions? And why do I value them?
- How much do you value the opinion of someone about a topic he hasn't really thought about or isn't well read on? (For example an opinion on entrepreneurship, nutrition, habits, taking risks.)
- Why do you value people's opinions? Do they share the same values? Or are they projecting their values on you, and do they judge you by their values? If so, then how important is their opinion to you? If you do share the same values, then how well-grounded is their opinion?
I think self esteem is largely based on how well you are living what you value. If your self-esteem depends on others, it is because you have not thought out your own values, and are instead trying to live up to the values of others. It doesn't always matter what other people think (the how and why do you value questions). If you do have your own values and you are living them, then you are internally validated.
Thinking about what you value, and choosing your own values is something most people simply never really do. It is then logical to look at what others value instead (e.g. reactions / likes, on the status update / picture). Young children look at others to see how they do things, and what they find important. As a child it is a good strategy to live up to the values of others. As an adult not wanting to live an average life however, it is probably a better strategy to choose your own values.
The only problem is when you write a status and nobody likes it. Haha. ;)
I actually don't think social networking is good for self-esteem. Maybe you get a little dopamine spike when people like or favorite your stuff, but I also think a lot of people feel bad about themselves when they see everyone else's "amazing lives." (I use quotes as most people have more pictures and statuses of their crazy adventures rather than the times they're bored or feeling down. This makes others think their life is pathetic in comparison.)
I view it the other way round. Most social media output makes me very thankful I'm not them (irrespective of wealth)!
My stepfather was talking today about a friend of his who is a competitive arm-wrestler. That reminded me of something I'd tell people, back in high school: that I'd only won two arm-wrestling matches in my life, and both were against girls. The implication was that I was very weak.
I took a weird sense of pride in saying that, and I can't really imagine why. Maybe it was a sour-grapes variety of defense mechanism.
I've noticed that I still do this today with my sense of direction. The truth is that I don't have a very good sense of direction, but I find that I bring it up at times where it's not necessary. Why? I don't really know. It's like self-deprecating humor that isn't that funny.
Making these sorts of comments implies that it's cool to be bad at things. Kids in school pretend to be bad at math, because they think that's cool. I don't think it's cool to be bad at anything. It's okay to be bad at things, but it's perverse to take a sense of pride in that.
The competence of those in your professional (and personal) network can oftentimes be validated by very simple tests. Consider the following.
I need to get a 2LB package sent from a small town in Peru to the capital, Lima.
I am not in Lima and need someone there that can receive the package and send it to me in a different country.