The modern west has a self-esteem problem.
Far too many people are in love with themselves, while an equally enormous number of people can’t bear to live in their own skin. It is painfully rare to find people who have a healthy balance between self-criticism and pride.
But this exact balance is key to not just a healthy psyche for the individual, but also to the creation of a sustainably healthy society.
Excessive self-criticism can contribute significantly to high levels of suicide and can be closely linked to depression. It can sap the motivation from even the most dedicated people, leaving them lethargic and unproductive for long periods of time. In this way, it can stunt the way that creative progress advances. It can also turn into truly destructive forces, when people who struggle to handle their self-criticism lash out at those around them.
Inflated egos can be just as damaging, and sometimes on an even broader scale. People who love themselves so intensely that they believe they couldn’t possibly do wrong, even when their actions have terrible and even fatal consequences. Unrestrained and unchecked pride is how society gets lumped with such unsavoury characters as Donald Trump, Martin Shkreli and Jeremy Hunt.
While the larger social issues are going to require a much larger communal effort to change anything, balancing your attitude to yourself can have a great impact on your life and the people around you.
The key to establishing a healthy balance is a firm understanding of the benefits of both pride in yourself and a sense of self-criticism.
Being proud of yourself and your achievements gives you the confidence to share them with the world. It allows you as a person to make changes in your life following your own previous achievements. Depending on the way that you see your life progressing, this can have incredible benefits for you personally, for your community and even for the world as a whole.
Being able to critique your behaviour and the things you have created allows you to improve infinitely on your choices. It gives you the opportunity to recognise when you have done something stupid. It allows you to learn, to understand consequences and to utilise your mistakes instead of make them over and over again.
It is important to practice a moderate amount of both, but the balancing act is a difficult skill to master.
The key to a good balance is to be able to see yourself objectively, as if you were looking at someone else. Distancing yourself from something you have made or chose can prevent you getting sensitive or precious about it. It ensures that you don’t take any rejection or criticism of it as a personal attack, and instead as a single instance in the many decision in your long and complex life.
If you saw someone else doing what you have done, how would you react? Would you be impressed? Would you tell them to stop?
Be critical, without being harsh. Be proud, without being arrogant.
Be honest with yourself and use your instincts to guide you.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.