High self esteem is a pre-requisite for happiness, accomplishment, having empathy for others, and most importantly for our own choices and life. However, many seem to confuse high self esteem with ego or pride. And I think it’s important to note that there is a distinct difference and it’s important to understand how come. Having high self esteem means being competent and having a positive result in every aspect of one’s life. This includes respecting the rights of everyone around us and being effective in our communication.
People act from their own perspective of how they are currently seeing the world. For example, if your boss calls you in the morning very short and frustrated because he/she is waiting on your report that was due an hour ago, your initial reaction might be to get upset. But if you take a deep breath and realize “Right, my report is late. I’m sure his/her boss is upset and I need to get this done….Or “Sounds like they have a lot going on and I’m not helping with my late report…”; You are able to remove any personal offense taken in response to your boss’ curtness with you and are able to view the conversation objectively. And you might even be able to calm your boss down and see that there might even be something else going on. The ability to understand the motivation behind hurtful or inappropriate behavior can remove any personal offense taken.
However, if you took that call from your boss and let your ego fly, the conversation may end up very different. Maybe you don’t like being talked to like that and you let your boss know that. Ego can often blind you and when you are vulnerable, and you can’t possibly be your best self. In my experience, there are five key differences between self esteem and ego:
1) Those with high self esteem can say “I made a mistake”.
I can easily just name a few names, Lance Armstrong, Richard Nixon, BIll Clinton….Think about how much better they would have been if they had just admitted it in the beginning. Sometimes you just have to be able to admit when you’ve made a mistake.
2) Those with high self esteem can say “I don’t know”.
This is NOT a sign of weakness. We don’t know everything. For me, working in pharmaceutical research, I’m suppose to know each and every protocol inside and out. But sometimes I’m asked a question that I have no idea of the answer to. It is not a sign of weakness, because I don’t know everything. So I answer, “I don’t know. But I’ll find out”. And then I’ll send a follow up email “As promised…” And you know what this shows? I’m good at following up.
3) Those with high self esteem have empathy.
Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, ie, the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.
4) Those with high self esteem don’t take things personally
They move on. They are able to let go and not react.
5) Those with high self esteem can say “I need help”.
Too many people think asking for help is exposing a weakness. I don’t think so. I think it shows that you are secure with who you are and you don’t have to appear perfect. No one is perfect. Ask for the help when you need it, get it and continue on!