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January 18, 2013

"You Have Low Self-Esteem, Watch Out!"

on May 1, 2010

In Linguistics, a one-sentence counter-example is enough to destroy an elegant linguistic theory. Here are many counter-examples to some conventional wisdom of Psychology. Will psychologists change their minds, their models?
Self-Esteem
It is defined to be something to do with how much you like yourself, respect yourself. how much you deem yourself deserving/worthy of happiness and success.
What Happens When You Have Low Self-Esteem?
Since you don't love/like yourself, you demand/hog love and like from others. Since you don't respect yourself, you demand/hog respect from others, become sensitive/touchy. Since you don't deem yourself deserving/worthy of happiness and success, you will self-destruct one way or another. Even your pursuit of pleasure may be self-punishment in disguise. Since you have no control over yourself, you become controlling.

According to David J. Lieberman(either in Executive Power or in You Can Read Anyone ), When stakes are high, the person with low self esteem is mostly to make bad choices. When stakes are high, the person with low self esteem, high confidence, poor moods, is mostly to become stubborn.
Exceptions Prove the Rule. But Are These Exceptions?
Many a government has studied and reported on Hitler's psychology. No one has proved Hitler mad, even in his final moments inside the bunker. (I am always amused by such reports.) He liked himself. He loved himself. He respected himself. He believed himself worthy of any glory. By definition, he had very high self-esteem. Then why did he punish himself in the end?
Why did he make bad choices? Why did he become stubborn?

Or he had proper amount of self-esteem when he was successful, and improper amount of self-esteem when he was unsuccessful. Then what kind of explanation, model, theory, discipline is that?

This is not an exception. Consider Madoff, Enron CEO/CFO, any gang chiefs.
Shall we just claim that their self-esteem were okay until they got caught? What kind of explanation, model, theory, discipline is that?

Does true success, happiness, peace result from being psychologically healthy or from being moral/ethical?
Exceptions Prove the Rule. But Judeo-Christian Psychologists May Never Understand These Exceptions.
Some Buddhist monks I met were very sensitive about disrespect, even disrespect to their buildings, compounds, yards, grounds, etc. Some monks in the Scriptures were just as sensitive on this count.

One remarkable example: Once a young monk in Sri Lanka thought ill of an old monk for a moment. The old monk not only followed the young one to the latter's monastery but also told him to stop practising because he would not make any progress in his Spiritual practice. Judeo-Christian Psychologists would start thinking like this:


"Why can't he forgive the young monk?"
"Nobody knows he got insulted."
"Insult only in the mind, no big deal."
"What an old fool with what a low self-esteem!"
"He's playing mind-game on the young mink."
"His warning is mean, hate-filled, malicious, out of proportion!"
"He's showing off his powers to read other people's minds."
"What an easy target for psywar harassment and provocation!"



These monks had low self-esteem? They demand respect because they don't/can't respect themselves? They are over-controlling because they feel inside controlessness over their own selves?

If you cannot judge even Hitler, which is a very clear-cut case, you better leave these monks alone. You better dust or tweak or overhaul or dump your own tools.

A monk's scolding is very sweet, merciful and beneficial.
Hitler's praise, friendliness, respect are blood-stained, murderous and ill-fated.

Sometimes psychologists need a lot of humility. Buddha remarks that the external or natural worlds are no match for the complexity of the mind.
Conclusion
Do you know what you don't know? Do you know what you know may be incomplete, inadequate or plain wrong? And are you going to measure everything with your ruler because you have this only one ruler? Are you going to search the lost key under the lamp because the light is only here? ( I give a clue: the guy in the story was drunk. You may also assume him dumb.)

'Dumb' and 'drunk' combination does create many an amusing anecdote.

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