Self Esteem.

Self-Esteem

“People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

And that light is Self Esteem.

Conditioning plays such an important part in one’s life that self esteem to develop where the conditions are unfavourable can be a daunting task and unless there is a cheer leader / motivator who can keep one going even during the most depressing stages, it rarely does. Till a major turning point came in my own life, I went through life with low self esteem because, society and some relatives kept pointing out that I was a school dropout – good-for-nothing, capable only of getting into trouble and having a good time otherwise. It was in retrospect that I realised that having that good time was my way of coping with the low self esteem.

My light did not shine till circumstances forced me to go to Business School. To go there however, I had to first get my undergraduate degree for which a great deal of prodding needed to be undertaken by a remarkable lady who was my mother. I have written about it elsewhere and do not want to bore my readers with that old tale.

Going to Business School, graduating from there and securing a prestigious position through campus recruitment changed my personality somewhat and my marriage about a year after graduation, to an amazing lady gave me such emotional stability that there was no looking back as far as self esteem was concerned. It was exactly the moment when she agreed to marry me that I changed and it was like the proverbial bulb switching on.

So, what did that big turn around give me that I did not have before? The knowledge that a very intelligent and mature lady would consider me worthy of spending the rest of her life with me. That never left me since then. Even during some of my most trying times, fortunately she was around those days, I never felt that there was something wrong with me. I had bad things happening around me, but I was not a bad person. And I had proof!

“Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment — the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.”

~ Jorge Luis Borges

And apart from being grateful for getting my self esteem, there was another development much later in my life that made me grateful for not taking the self esteem to its illogical conclusion of narcissism when I saw that acting out through another person. Had it not been for my own self esteem, those few years of living with that person would have destroyed me. That it did not and I am here writing this post is proof enough that a healthy self esteem does wonders for one.

I hope that you enjoyed reading my take on this subject which was chosen by me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where five of us write on the same topic. The four other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

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18 Responses to Self Esteem.

  1. As you know I’ve always been self-motivated. I don’t think in terms of self-esteem much.
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Refrigerator

    • Fair enough. Perhaps my understanding of the word esteem is different from yours. My motivation to do things out with my own inclinations came from the two sources that I have written about. Other than those, my life is proof of the Buddha’s “deeds are done but there is no doer thereof.”

  2. Ursula says:

    Moving autobiographical account, Ramana. More and more of a picture of you, the man (and the boy you once were), emerging.

    To my mind self esteem constitutes the backbone of who we are. I also think it a fallacy to equate self esteem with narcissism. I know at least one narcissist (perfectly nice person) who has self esteem so low you could wipe the floor with him.

    I believe that we are born with a dose of self esteem. How small or large is, no doubt, in the genes. On the other hand it’s like capital: Your environment can either add to or erode that capital. I have been very lucky. “Where do you take your chutzpah from?” my mother once asked me when in my teens. She meant it admiringly, not as a criticism. However, there have been times in my life, maybe like in yours, when people have tried to erode my confidence. For some reason, unclear to me, if you hold an innate esteem of your self it irritates some people. Emphasis on “some”. Others, like myself, are not exactly attracted to those who think themselves “not worthy”.

    As to your Borges quote: Let’s just say there is not ONE moment we know who we are. There are many, many, many over a lifetime. And, occasionally, a stranger stares back at you looking into the mirror. Then you go in search of your momentarily misplaced self.

    Back to your mother, Ramana: They say that nothing guarantees a man more confidence than his mother’s belief in him. And as to your wife: Behind every successful man is a good woman. How is that for a handful of cliches? Remember cliches are cliches because they contain grains of truths.

    U
    Ursula recently posted..Condensed

    • Yes, even in that tale there are two moments of significance. In the context of a particular matter, such moments can be singular. Cliches and adages most decidedly contain truths.

  3. Conditioning. Yep – I agree – self esteem is a learned thing – and you learned from apparent masters. A nice bit of onion peeling here my friend.

  4. nick says:

    Some people have unshakable self-esteem, some have none at all because all sorts of people and events have undermined it. My self-esteem is fairly strong but unexpected setbacks can temporarily demolish it. As for knowing who you are, I’m such a mixture of things (which can change from day to day) I have no clear picture of myself, only a lot of fleeting impressions. I’m a constant work in progress.
    nick recently posted..Hard work

    • And that can be said of just about all of us. It is simply a matter of degrees Nick. As long as we can live in our skins, I would say that we have enough self esteem.

  5. Alan G says:

    Self Esteem – You certainly aren’t born with it. Self esteem in my opinion is a byproduct, not a standalone condition in itself. It is a self-taught and learned condition. It is solely the by-product of “confidence”. And confidence is the by-product of our life experiences which are inclusive of all the things we do in our lives to include our social interaction, our education and our work.

    High crime rates for example are by-products of low esteem based mostly on poverty and little or no education.

    Mothers can certainly nurture a child’s confidence but in the end the child themselves must gain confidence in themselves recognizing their self-worth, thereby creating their self esteem.

    Unlike conceit or self-righteousness, self esteem becomes a part of who we are and not who we think we are. Unlike conceit or self-righteousness we are really quite unaware of our self esteem much in the same way we are unaware of our hearts as they pump our lifeblood through our body’s day in and day out, moment to moment. It may be reflected somewhat in our individual personalities but not in some measured or deliberate act.

  6. Don’t forget, it was both your mother and your wife who said you should take care of your father. Maybe they knew something you didn’t? Perhaps they were still taking care of your further development?
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..Yay, Andy!

    • What they knew was – “Healing does not mean that the damage never existed. It means that the damage no longer controls our lives.”
      ~ Native American adage.

  7. Mitali says:

    Good for you 🙂

  8. Wonderful post. I came to it in a much different way than you because I had lots of wins and did well in school, but I had few friends and even when I won a lot at sports I didn’t gain friends, I developed enemies for whatever reason. Even these days I have moments here and there when I lose a bit of it for a while, but luckily it comes back. Good for you!
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted..Are You A Lazy Networker Or Marketer?

  9. Mother says:

    Lovely post, Ramana. I love it when you share yourself. You have a lot worth giving. I have (usually) good self-esteem…which, I believe, is the confidence to know that we can do. I see that as different from self-worth…which, I believe, is the confidence of our right to be who we are.
    Mother recently posted..The Grandparent Thing

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