post #101

I had a wonderful conversation on Sunday night with some friends and the word self-esteem came up. One of my friends was asked to rate his self-esteem as being high or low. He described himself as "low"...actually, he used a thumbs down with a subtle frown. If you met this guy, you'd probably wonder WHY??? He is attractive, successful, funny, active in his faith, but still there is some sort of insecurity plaguing him (those are all my word, not his, btw).

I attempted to make some comments about my ideas about self-esteem and found it difficult to find the words. Well, I found an explanation that fits. I've mentioned Michael White before; this is from the introduction of his book, Narratives of Therapists Lives.

"...words like self-esteem and self-fulfillment ... represent taken for granted notions about life and human action in contemporary western culture. Notions like these have become our culture's "facts" about human nature. But they are nonetheless products of the structuralist discourses."

The word discourse, as it is used in Narrative ideas, refers to cultural rules for who can say what and what time and with what authority. There are endless discourses about gender, race, religion, and words like self-esteem. This idea has been socially constructed. You don't hear about it in other cultures. So, why in western culture, is self-esteem so important? What does it mean and why is it such a sought after notion?

Is it possible that someone who could be labeled as having low self-esteem has just been blinded by the pressures and expectations of a fast-paced, grandiose culture? Blinded from the absent but implicit [which is associated with an understanding that every expression of life is multi-layered] principles of their lives?

I get some mixed expressions when I tell people what I am training for and studying in my chosen career path. Sometimes I'm even asked the question, "How do you listen to people's problems all day?" Most of the time, I assume that people are thinking even if they don't ask me.

I guess I don't see what I do as "listening to people's problems" or even "fixing" people. I'm not in the business of fixing people, nor do I believe people need to be fixed.

The concept of the absent but implicit refers to the possibilities of people's lives and experiences. The concept of the absent but implicit invites me to consult people about the more implicit layers of the expression of their concerns and problems. Even as I type this, I am aware of the significance of being allowed to witness people's lives and help them with the things that concern them. Helping people travel from what they know about their lives and problems, what is familiar, to the possibilities and the hidden pieces of joy and positiveness--this is very exciting to me and is what is keeping me going.


Keepin' up with the Jones' said...

you are way too smart for me!!

Jenn Daniels said...

Your brain is on a totally different level than me...but I'm intrigued! I read a book a while ago called "Raising the Optimistic Child" and it talks a lot about this very topic. So there, now you have another resource to add to your LONG list! Love you Charity!

Flyin' Hawaiian said...

As this is my first visit ever to your blog, I would like to say that I was happy to find such a thought provoking post. I usually find travel and event logs with pretty pictures, but nothing substantial in the way of words that actually merit preponderance (is that even a word that I can use in this context? If not, I don't care, I really like the word.)

Either way, I was thinking about what you said concerning self-esteem and completely agree that when one compares oneself to the expectations of the world, it would be very easy to feel diminishing self-worth. This may be why I am so thankful for my faith that allows me to measure my own worth not against the world, but by another standard. I believe that with stronger faith, "higher" self-esteem is implicit; self-efficacy, however, is not. I can see how "grandiose" culture could beat down ones self-efficacy, but it has little effect on my self-esteem.

Just some food for thought. Mahalos Charity.

Flyin' Hawaiian said...

i just realized that it doesn't say my name (i guess you could have clicked on my profile and seen it though)

its kawika - i don't know how many kawika's you know ;D but the k. tarayao from church

Flyin' Hawaiian said...

speaking of self-efficacy .. there is a great article on it in the journal today: