Self esteem and habits

cat poster

I started an email chain with my siblings about organization, and one of them said that good habits come down to self esteem, which is a very complicated thing for me and I said I would put it in a blog.  When I think of self esteem, I think of confidence, self indulgence, self care, self worth and self efficacy.  I suppose validation comes in somewhere in there, but I’m not sure what it means, really.

It’s like how I sat through two of my psychology professors asking “We’re all clear on shame and guilt, right?” and I didn’t put my hand up.  And my hand is always up.  (Guilt is knowing something you did was bad, shame is thinking you are bad.)  Well, l can quickly ask Merriam Webster.  Validation 2.b: to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of <validate his concerns.  And while we’re at it, Approval: the belief that something or someone is good or acceptable.

Confidence is the first word I learned to elucidate self esteem.  This was from a book which I believe was called “Confronting the myth of self esteem” which started with kids getting a badge that said “I am loveable”.  They said it is better to say “I am loved.”  There was also a weird parable about how love is for giving to other people, not heaping on yourself.  I see confidence as a spiritual fruit of humility, charity and virtue.  (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45.  It is somewhat the opposite of self indulgence.  This was very characteristic of my 12 step recovery years.  I was gentle on myself, but what I considered my spiritual self, not the self that the world markets to.

The a few years ago, nearly several now, I got involved in lifestyle change.  I worked a lot on finding positive motivations rather than being tough on myself.  I came across the idea of self care in a talk my brother in law (an LMFT) gave on the idea of loving yourself.  He also talked about self worth as an understanding that you are unique.  He was more convincing than that probably sounds.  He presented it as a compliment to self efficacy.

So I was very interested in self care for the next couple of years, that we have a need to be involved in taking care of ourselves.  Though it has come to my attention that my husband thinks I am too self sufficient.  This goes back to the 12 step recovery, which I started out with overeating but eventually worked on codependency.  As I conceived of it, self care is about what you are moving toward rather than what you are escaping.  It fills a need we have to be developing and growing.  I think this is a spiritual need, though you see it in humanist psychology.  I guess it depends on what you think the target of development is.

I had misunderstood self efficacy to be about external results. But it’s actually a theory where belief that you can do something increases your ability to do it, which leads to improved results, which in turn increases your belief.  So it incorporates both practicality, but also “belief” which is a word I struggle with.  I guess in my own history belief is the early stages of faith.  But when used in behavioral science, I don’t really know what it’s supposed to mean.  It smacks of magic feathers and placebos.  I know the effect is real, but it is too often allied with illusion.  I prefer words like expectation and trust.  I guess faith is spiritual, expectation is mental, trust is emotional but belief is… I don’t know.

Maybe that’s why I struggle with stuff. If faith is knowledge of things which are not seen which are true, it’s as if belief is the same but for things that are not true, or if I want to be generous, not yet true.  To believe a pill or magic feather will work puts belief in an external agent.  Believing in yourself is another matter, though.  I guess it is the word Morpheus uses toward the end of the Matrix.  And of course Vitruvius brings it back to the knowledge that you are unique.

image: http://whycatpostersarethebest.blogspot.com/

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