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Institute for Jedi Realist Studies - Self-Esteem


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Self-esteem. It is an issue faced by children as young as three and by adults as old as ninety. It is not just something for guys who prefer wearing black and listening to Manson or young girls obsessed with being perfect in everything they do. Self-esteem affects everyone?for better or for worse. How we handle our self-esteem is a direct reflection of how we handle our lives.

To understand self-esteem fully, one must begin at the beginning. What exactly, is it? Unfortunately, many people believe self-esteem to mean simply feeling good about yourself. Others go so far as to equate self-esteem with egotism--attitudes of bragging, boasting, and trying to prove your superiority over others. But the issue goes much deeper than mere surface thoughts. According to the National Association for Self-Esteem, it can be defined as "The experiences of being capable of meeting life's challenges and being worthy of happiness. [Self-esteem is] founded on the premise that it is strongly connected to a sense of competence and worthiness and the relationship between the two as one life." At first glance, that looks like a bunch of words simply strung together. However, this can be broken down by asking two questions: does the person have confidence in his/her ability to think and make appropriate choices (competence), and does the person live up to the values set for him/herself (worthiness)? What makes this definition stand apart from others is that it takes into account that, while competence and worthiness are separate ideas, they connect to make a whole. As the NASE stated, "A sense of personal worth without competence is just as limiting as competence without worthiness."

In one of my psychology courses we talked about the three aspects of self-esteem. The first is what decisions we have made about who we want to be as a person. The second is that self-esteem comes from the respect we have for ourselves related to our bodies (and our rooms). Finally is how we handle our work (both jobs and schools). Imagine that each idea is a separate point in space. When they are balanced they form an equilateral triangle. It is strong and won't topple over. But if even one point is out of balance . . . disaster strikes.

If you have read this far, by now you may be asking yourself "What gives? Why is this self-esteem thing so important? After all, I'm a Jedi. I help other people--not myself." It is precisely because of that mindset that I am posting this here. Having high self-esteem comes with its own benefits package.

1. It's a built-in mood-booster. Everybody has his/her bad days, but having high self-esteem helps overcome the moodiness to have a good day.

2. You smile a lot. You have positive beliefs about yourself, your friends and family, and the world you live in.

3. Good self-esteem is an energy booster. You can accomplish your goals.
4. You enjoy spending time with other people. While high self-esteem is not a popularity booster, others do see you as being friendly.

5. High self-esteem can lead to both behavioral and academic success in school and on the job.

6. Not all positive effects of high self-esteem are visible to others. Internal factors include: talking/thinking positively about yourself, tending to keep your word and tell the truth, forgive yourself and others easily, and you become empathic, compassionate, and you have a conscience.

Jedi aren't all people-people, and having high self-esteem won't make you one, but we are constantly working with people. We owe it to those we work with--and ourselves--to be in the best MENTAL shape that we can be, and that is exactly what self-esteem is for.

Self-esteem is very much at the thought level. How do you typically think about yourself? Do you berate yourself for being stupid, sloppy, forgetful, or insensitive? Or do you watch yourself with interest, respect, and compassion? On which end of the scale do you tip? Positive or negative? What do you say to yourself when you self talk? Also, do you feel it is important for a Jedi to have high self-esteem or is it not necessary?