The baskets we use to store our self-esteem eggs: contingencies of self-worth
The way we evaluate things is like a balancing scale: when we have no opinion about something, it’s empty. But once we start gathering positive and negative information, we start adding to the sides. If we’ve collected more positive information, eventually it starts leaning to one side:
If we hear a few negative comments about a brand, for example, it becomes easier to process negative information about that brand. Our brain is a lazy prediction-machine, and it gravitates towards information that confirms our hunches. It’s easy to back up our biases and hunches. Not only is it surprisingly difficult to change our mind, but it’s hard just to learn information that goes against our beliefs.
But even if we start the day with a head full of promise, we might
Eventually, bad things happen; at some point in our lives, we learn that we’re not the belle of the ball. Our self-concept gets shaped around what we think we have to do to be seen as worthy once again. For example:
beliefs about what we have to do or who have to be in order to have value; they’re
Needing external approval to feel good about yourself is a recipe for disaster.
Developing a solid sense of self requires us to get self-esteem from inside. Things will be okay if you lose, leave the house without makeup, spend more time on self-care, or fall short of your goals. Those things are all part of being human.
One problem I see often is that once people get an idea of what they have to do/who they have to be in order to stay in the good graces of others, they rarely question that belief. They often don’t even realize that they have it. It’s like learning that opening a door requires using a key and knocking. You never realize that you don’t have to knock because it’s simply what you’ve always done.
A lot of people sell themselves short because before they feel ready to venture out, they’re convinced that they have to do X in order for things to be okay: make a certain amount of money, spend hours making complicated holiday plans, look a certain way—unknowingly complicating their lives. They’re convinced that they have to succeed at everything they try.
You don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love and respect.
Things will be okay if you spend less time on basic life maintenance tasks.
Things will be okay if you fail, provided you get up afterwards.
Don’t base your self-esteem on outcomes.