Sorry, but I forgot to add the best part to last week’s piece (“Pumping them up,” Saturday, Jan. 5, The Standard-Journal).
My dad reminded me to not bury the good stuff when I told him how the piece came about. I often read news and columns to him when I visit and he gives me feedback.
To review, my conclusion was that far too may people don’t think well of themselves. They claim to fail in the looks department and elsewhere without any real reason other than that’s the way they see themselves.
You can see a person in such a state coming a mile away. The consequences, I believe, range from fleeing from cameras to possibly more serious disorders.
Dad reminded me what brought it all about started in early December and was a story in itself.
I was getting coffee at a local convenience store. I was on line and ready to pay. It must have been shortly before a big lottery or daily numbers drawing, as everyone ahead in the line was buying tickets by the score.
The clerk, I’ve seen him before, was friendly and engaging. He often chats with the customers about the lotto games they are playing or choices of whatever is behind the counter.
One fellow must have hit a nice instant payout and wanted to give the clerk a $10 tip. Another customer, still scratching away, asked a question of the clerk.
The query and the clerk’s reply are recreated as best as I remember them.
“Why would somebody want to give you a tip?”
“Because I am just a fantastic-looking, awesome, heck-of-a-good guy.”
Everybody laughed. They thought he was kidding.
My turn to pay was coming. The clerk continued to chat with everyone. I knew what quip I wanted to drop, and hoped not too much time would pass before it would just not make sense in that moment.
“Hey man,” the clerk said. “Anything else tonight?”
“Nah,” I said. “We’re good.”
“Okay, that’s $2.11.”
“Here you go. Sorry, no tip. But you are a good-looking guy!”
The clerk and a couple of others laughed again and I gave the guy a thumbs-up. That’s when the notion hit me, so I looked again for info about low self-esteem.
There is empirical research which indeed claims a link between self-esteem and a whole collection of outcomes. I thought this stuff peaked in the 1980s, but it’s been ongoing.
The work has identified differences between high and low self-esteem individuals, claiming people with high levels of it focus on growth and improvement. A focus on not making mistakes in life may indicate a poor self image.
Depression was cited by Silverstone and Salsali (2003) as an indicator of low self-esteem, while Rosenberg and Owen (2001) claimed it leads to fear of failure and exaggeration of events as being negative.
Their 2001 study further claimed a person not feeling positive about themselves may interpret non-critical comments as critical, experience low levels of interpersonal confidence and social anxiety.
Carl Rogers, a founding figure of modern psychology, claimed low self-esteem may manifest itself in children with traits such as bullying, quitting things, cheating, and avoidance behavior. Though all children may behave in those ways at times, regular action along those lines may indicate a problem.
Rogers also cited a link between poor self image and physical punishment or withholding of affection by parents.
A recently published self-esteem “curve” saw medium levels of self-esteem as ideal, and linked with higher achievement. Notes attached to it claimed both highs and lows of self-esteem could be harmful.
Here is where I diverge from mainstream thought. How could focusing on improvement and growth be negative? It’s still a long way to conceit, or self-will running riot, wouldn’t you agree?
Granted, my conclusion was based on anecdotal observations rather than evidence based research. Daily, I see folks on the lower end of the self-esteem curve, who are so low that it might be that only strongest measures possible will help. This is especially true if an individual confuses confidence with arrogance or self-esteem with a lack of humility.
The short supply of self-esteem in our world may be so chronic that people need to be raised to humility far more often than need to be humbled.
Unfortunately, the door still opens from the inside. Few among us are skilled to the point where we can convince an individual to open that door and be willing.
Despite that, my New Year’s vow to keep encouraging people will remain.
It beats Blue Monday, which we know is just around the corner.
FYI: Information by S.A. McLeod posted at SimplyPsychology.org was helpful in this.
Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at email@example.com.