B1 Intermediate UK 24532 Folder Collection
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Liking ourselves,
having high self-esteem as we tend to put it
is crucial to any feeling of well-being.
What's odd, then, is just how unpredictable the allocation of esteem often turns out to be.
There are people with modest jobs,
unspectacular bodies and unglamorous friends.
Who confidently nevertheless lay claim to buoyant levels of self-esteem
They seem to like themselves
despite the absence of any vigorous signs of approval from the world at large.
And then there are others,
for who no amount of achievement, prestige and financial security
ever seems to do the trick.
They anxiously chastise and critic themselves.
Always feeling that they've underperformed,
never quite trusting that they really deserved to exist.
Having sound levels of self-esteem
ultimately appears to have precious little to do with hitting any verifiable benchmarks.
It seems connected up with a stranger, more internal, more subjective kind of logic
with factors immune to standard notions of achievement.
Three factors stand out in particular
What your same-sex parent did
the single greatest determinant of how much you will esteem yourself
is how you compare with your same-sex parent.
Whether you have achieved more or less than mum or dad.
Rather brutally, it seems like comfortable levels of self-esteem
are only available to those who've managed to outpace their same-sex parent.
Those from a poor background have a big unwitting advantage here.
You might only be driving a beaten-up old taxi around Manhattan
and living in one room in Harlem.
But, if your same-sex parent was a subsistence farmer from Eastern Burkina Faso
you will at times feel princely nevertheless.
Similarly, yet more darkly,
you might have grown up in ostensibly privilege circumstances
but if your same-sex parent made a few hundred million
and you're only managing to pull in a middle-class salary
you're liable never quite to shake off the haunting feeling that you're a disgrace.
Second thing:
What your peer group is up to.
We don't feel inadequate in relation to everyone who has more than us
Only those who we've come to see as belonging to another
crucial determinant of self-esteem:
our peer group.
By this we mean the people who were educated with us
who are around our age
and who live in our part of the world.
These people matter infinitely more to our sense of well-being
than the population at large.
It's a piece of extreme bad luck
and a matter for particular commiseration and assistance
if ever our peer group produces someone who starts a billion dollar company or,
God forbid, ends up running the country.
Every time someone we went to school with does better than us,
a small part of us will die.
We should therefore take immense care,
to attend very ordinary schools,
and after graduation to throw all invitations to reunions straight in the trash.
What kind of love you received in childhood.
A lot depends on what kind of affection we were the recipients of in childhood,
in particular, how many conditions our love came attached with.
Some of us had parents who only knew how to give out the conditional kind of love.
It was all about the grades and the schools reports,
we therefore grew up of course, to be high achievers.
But it's not so easy, running around your whole life long,
desperate to put out the raging fires of self-hatred
striving to impress everyone you meet in search of an unsatisfied desire for a parental approval you never knew.
But others, the blessed ones,
who've known unconditional love from the start,
will be ok just to be.
They won't have to do quite so much pushing
they'll have an inner basic buoyancy
guaranteed by the knowledge that they once mattered immeasurably
A big reversal like being fired
will be unpleasant.
It won't necessarily have to be a tragedy.
Knowing about the odd internal origins of self-esteem is crutial
because of how often we pursue goals in the belief that success will at last
give us the keys to feeling good about ourselves.
It seems the truth is slightly darker.
You might ostensibly be doing very well at work
but if your dad was a big shot, or your school buddy became president
or your parents didn't tank you up with the right unconditional sort of love
no amount of striving, goalscoring, and medal-winning is ever really gonna do it.
This changes where we should imagine our challenges lie.
Feeling good about ourselves
isn't ultimately something we can bring about through professional
or economic achievements alone.
In huge part, it's going to be about coming to terms with ourselves.
The result of understanding our past
and the dynamics of shame conditionality and humiliation might lie there.
It turns out that high self-esteem seems largely to be apprised of psychology
rather than the fruit of anything we might achieve
out in the world in relation to the economy.
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24532 Folder Collection
VoiceTube published on March 6, 2017    Giselle Chang translated    Colleen Jao reviewed
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