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)!
One of the great sacrifices of subjecting kids to school is that it trains them to ask for permission for everything, from turning in work late, to changing to a different class, to more mundane things like going to the bathroom. It's a tradeoff, of course: condition kids to seek permission for everything, and by doing so enable a system to exist where they receive an education.
Maybe that's a worthwhile tradeoff, and maybe it's not. But the real harm in it, in my opinion anyway, is that when we leave school, we're still in the habit of asking permission for everything. That's dangerous.
A manifestation of this that I come across with frequently is the questions that people send me by email. Here's a paraphrased template, which covers a good 60%+ of the emails I get from strangers:
This is the best reason I have ever come up with for meditation.
I have never meditated. Tried it once, last year, for a few weeks. It didn’t stick.
In my book, I talked about how nearly everyone is addicted to validation.
Being validated by others. It’s an addiction far worse than any drug or alcohol or anything like that. Not to your physical health, but it’s what’s stopping you from growing up.