Modern people have a lot of problems but low self-esteem isn’t one of them. If anything, modern people have too much self-esteem.
Focusing solely on improving your self-esteem will not only not benefit you but will also harm you in many ways that we’ll cover in detail throughout this article.
Self-esteem is nothing more than how people evaluate themselves. If someone’s evaluation of themselves is favorable then they have high self-esteem. If it’s unfavorable then they have low-self esteem.
Considering that this evaluation is highly subjective as there are no objective metrics for self-evaluation, it’s no surprise that people greatly misestimate their performance and ability.
People Massively Overrate Themselves
One study after another “finds” that people consistently rate themselves above average, which is a statistical impossibility.
Most drivers believe they’re above-average drivers. If you think this is about the general ignorance of the average person, you’d be wrong. More than 90% of professors think they’re above-average teachers.
Gee, who could have thought people would tend to evaluate themselves favorably? Might they be suffering from a little-known ailment called “human nature?”
If convincing yourself of your own superiority was all it took to become successful then everyone would be successful already. Yet, most people lead lives of quiet desperation.
The Self-Esteem Movement
During the 1970s, the self-esteem craze took over America and quickly spread to other countries.
Many prominent politicians, teachers, psychologists, and researchers came to believe that low-self esteem is the root of many problems in society and high-self esteem is the solution. They claimed high self-esteem is the foundation of success, happiness, and a better society.
Considering that the key assumption of the self-esteem movement was that most people have low-self esteem, it’s no wonder that the movement was stillborn.
As we’ve already covered, it’s demonstrably false that most people have low-self esteem. Studies that specifically poll for the level of self-esteem find similar results. For example, this study found that self-esteem is generally high in most North American samples where the self-esteem movement is originated.
Disconnected from reality, the self-esteem movement set out to raise the overall self-esteem of the population.
- Schools became places to protect the self-esteem and the feelings of students at all costs. Teachers started handing out participation trophies, stopped giving bad grades, and lowered the standards of performance,
- Parents stopped properly disciplining their children lest it lowers their self-esteem,
- Political correctness flourished,
- Psychologists started to “treat” their patients by heightening their self-esteem.
Low self-esteem was deemed the mother of all evils so raising the population’s self-esteem was expected to reduce welfare dependency, unwanted pregnancy, drug addiction, and crime.
What they failed to calculate was that child abusers, psychopaths, tyrants, bullies, cheaters, and criminals already had high self-esteem.
They also failed to realize that a delusionally heightened self-esteem does more harm than good.
Overall, the self-esteem movement was a childish attempt that worsened the problems it aimed to solve.
50 years after the start of the self-esteem movement, America (where the movement has originated) is a worse place in all aspects and people are more miserable than before.
What went wrong? Well, everything.
7 Grave Dangers Of Delusionally High Self-Esteem
Students of human nature would immediately recognize the holes in the claims of the self-esteem movement but since humans aren’t known for their rationality, the movement took hold and unsurprisingly backfired to destroy the lives of an untold number of people.
Not only it didn’t solve the problem of crime, but it also inflicted great harm to the well-meaning members of society by setting them up for a worsened future.
The self-esteem movement encourages you to lie to yourself about your superiority as well as the authorities to lie to their subjects about their superiority.
Lies can’t create reality. They can only create delusions.
Instilling delusionally heightened self-esteem in people, especially in children is dangerous. It does more harm than good.
The damage of the self-esteem movement is done but future damage can be prevented.
Here are the dangers of delusionally high self-esteem:
1. Delusionally High Self-Esteem Hinders Achievement, Not Raise It
The proponents of the self-esteem movement noticed that high achievers tend to have high-self esteem so they concluded high-self esteem was a precursor to success.
What they failed to recognize was that successful people don’t succeed because they have high self-esteem. They have high self-esteem because they’re successful. Focusing on self-esteem is putting the cart before the horse.
Delusionally high-self esteem doesn’t raise achievement. Quite the opposite. It hinders achievement both at school and in professional life.
Here are the reasons why:
a) Delusionally High Self-Esteem Leads To An Inability To Deal With Setbacks, Failures, And Rejections
The proponents of the self-esteem movement aimed to increase the performance of school kids by convincing them of their superiority but it backfired because kids started to focus on protecting their self-image rather than improving themselves.
Carol Dweck, the author of the fascinating book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, discovered that these students avoided challenging tasks lest they are disproven of their beliefs of superiority.
Lavishing students with praise for how smart they are for doing basically nothing achieves the opposite of what it intends to achieve.
When students are made to believe they are smart, they are not only unwilling to rise up to challenges but are also unable to deal with setbacks, failures, and rejections.
Since success inevitably involves failures, setbacks, and rejections; the children of the self-esteem movement are set up for mediocrity at best, not exceptionality.
b) People With Delusionally High Self-Esteem Are Ashamed Of Effort
Carol Dweck also found that the same students who avoid setbacks, failures, and rejections are also ashamed of effort.
They believe that having to extend effort for success is proof of inferiority.
Since effort is also a prerequisite of success, delusionally high self-esteem hinders achievement by hindering effort.
c) People With Delusionally High Self-Esteem Are Unwilling To Take Risks
Taking risks is, well, risky. The possibility of failure is there, otherwise, it wouldn’t be called taking risks.
People with delusionally high self-esteem avoid taking risks because their self-image is at stake each time they take risks. Stakes being so high severely cripples risk-taking.
They feel it’s better to protect their self-esteem than to lose it to a failure. As a result, they go for the sure thing, the low-hanging fruit, lest their delusions of grandeur are shattered.
Since risk-taking is a must for becoming exceptional, people with delusionally high-self esteem sabotage themselves without others having to outcompete them.
As the saying goes, you miss all the shots you don’t take.
d) Humans Love To Be Proven Right, Hate To Be Proven Wrong
As we’ve already talked about, the proponents of the self-esteem movement failed to understand the basic laws of human nature.
If they did, they’d know that humans love to be proven right and hate to be proven wrong. In fact, humans are so irrational that they’d rather lose money than be proven wrong.
People with delusionally high self-esteem avoid any situation where they might be proven wrong for their beliefs of superiority.
2. Delusionally High Self-Esteem Makes You Weak
People with delusionally high self-esteem are unwilling to admit their weaknesses because an admission of weakness contradicts their beliefs.
If you’re unwilling to admit your weaknesses, you’ll fail to address them.
All living things are born with strengths and weaknesses. This is normal and expected.
However, if you aren’t honest about your weaknesses, you can’t fix them. Your unaddressed weaknesses will keep hurting you until the day you die.
Mother nature abhors weakness. You might think modern comforts shield you from the punishments of nature but mother nature is a genius at coming up with new ways of punishing weakness.
You are not above the laws of nature. No one is.
Addressing and fixing your weaknesses is a must if you want to succeed in this brutally competitive world.
3. People With Delusionally High Self-Esteem Fail To Appreciate Other People’s Success
When you have a delusional sense of superiority, someone else’s success becomes your failure.
As we’ve already covered, delusional high-self esteem doesn’t lead to success. It leads to mediocrity, if that.
So, how does an individual with delusionally high self-esteem explain away another person’s success when they’re failing? After all, if they were superior, it would be them who succeeded. How come did not that superiority lead to success when someone else succeeded?
This is when excuses and envy kick in.
It’s not the delusionally superior person’s fault that they didn’t succeed. They had totally valid excuses. People who did succeed didn’t actually deserve to succeed. They had unfair advantages. They were cheating. They were privileged. Blah, blah, blah.
Strong people aren’t offended by other people’s success. They are aware that they can only succeed in a minuscule subset of a wide array of subject fields. They’re delighted to see others succeed. They learn from the success of other people instead of envying them or manufacturing excuses.
4. Delusionally High Self-Esteem Causes Depression
Delusionally high self-esteem creates unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations are destructive.
What depresses people with delusionally high self-esteem most is their helplessness in the face of their inevitable misery in life.
Since they are not allowed to blame themselves for their station in life (after all, they’re superior), they feel helpless in the face of their problems.
Depression is exactly that: The feeling of helplessness against the troubles of life.
If these people were not delusional, they would accept responsibility for their failures.
What these people never realize is that it’s better for your station in life to be your fault than other people’s fault.
If it’s your fault then you can fix it. If it’s other people’s fault then you’ll feel helpless and you’ll be prone to depression.
Unsurprisingly, studies also show that overly positive self-evaluations and personality have negative implications for mental health.
5. People With Delusionally High Self-Esteem Suck At Relationships
The proponents of the self-esteem movement claimed that high self-esteem leads to better relationships but this is also false.
It’s not high self-esteem that leads to better relationships. Becoming a high-value person with competent social skills leads to better relationships. High self-esteem is a by-product of actual superiority, not the cause of it.
Not only do individuals with delusionally high self-esteem come across as arrogant, but they also find it hard to get along with others because they’re easily offended.
Anyone who fails to validate or acknowledge their superiority is a direct threat to their self-image so they must be hated, snubbed, or avoided altogether.
People with delusionally high self-esteem are also a pain to deal with over the internet. They are among the people who take general statements personally and get offended by someone saying something on the other end of the world.
They lash out, run to the authorities to censor people for the crime of hurting their feelings, and become a pain to deal with in general.
6. Maintaining Delusionally High Self-Esteem Is A Chore
Maintaining the illusion of superiority becomes a full-time job because it often clashes with reality.
The gap between reality and delusionally high-self esteem is so wide that it must be constantly bridged with great effort or it will collapse.
When an individual with a healthy level of self-esteem fails, they try to repair the failure. When an individual with delusionally high-self esteem fails, they try to repair the blow to their self-esteem.
Since failure is unavoidable in life, this reparation repeats itself over and over, usually until death.
Hell, it doesn’t even require failure for delusionally high self-esteem to take a blow.
The human brain subconsciously picks up signals to gauge where one stands in the social hierarchy.
A person with high self-esteem but no qualities to back it up will constantly receive signals that disagree with their grandiose self-image.
This mismatch with reality must constantly be dealt with too, which should be a massive chore.
7. Delusionally High Self-Esteem Leads To Entitlement
A sense of entitlement occurs when an individual thinks the world owes them something in exchange for existing.
People with delusionally high self-esteem believe they should be rewarded for their superiority. For example, manual jobs are beneath them. They deserve the cushiest, best-paying jobs.
They’re used to flattery and unable to handle criticism, never realizing that flattery is more dangerous than criticism for flattery creates a fragile ego and insecurity.
These are the people who are the most likely to never come to terms with how the world works.
Think about it. If your self-esteem is high but you are not getting the results you want, who’s to blame?
You can’t blame yourself because you have high self-esteem. Then the world needs to change to accommodate itself to your majesty.
How To Properly Build Self-Esteem
High self-esteem is beneficial if you’ve actually earned it but that’s not what the self-esteem movement advocates.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Anything of value that you didn’t earn not only doesn’t benefit you but usually ends up harming you.
Here’s another rule of thumb: The closer you’re to the truth, the higher are your chances to succeed. The further you move away from the truth the more you’re setting yourself up for ruin.
Self-esteem is a false god because even when you are somehow able to convince yourself of your own superiority, the realities of life will inevitably mismatch your beliefs so instead of aligning yourself with the realities of the world, you’ll try to change the entire world to align with your delusional beliefs.
Improving your self-esteem won’t improve your life. Improving your life will improve your self-esteem.
You don’t become superior by constantly lying to yourself that you’re superior. You become superior by carving a superior person out of yourself which can only be done by discipline.
Just as you don’t automatically respect a stranger and they have to earn your respect, you must also earn your self-respect as well.
You must first and foremost prove to yourself that you are able to live up to your personal values or else you’re delusional.
Buckle down and do the work. The more you improve yourself the more your self-esteem grows.
You must develop the skills to properly compete with others or you’ll be left behind. You must cultivate your capabilities with tireless effort or you’ll be defeated by those who do.
Becoming an actually superior person is hard work but no one said winning is easy. If it was easy everyone would be winners.
Be sure to read:
- How to Be a Superior Man, Chapter 2: What Makes A Man A Superior Man
- How To Spot A Self-Entitled Individual: 15 Signs Of A Sense Of Entitlement
- How Discipline Saves You From Stress, Anxiety, And Depression
- How to Cultivate A Can-Do Attitude Without Being Delusional
- 10 Unrealistic Expectations About Life That Will Destroy You