Don’t Buy Into The Self-Esteem Myth

Our culture is saturated with books, motivational products, and drugs (legal and illegal) to help individuals who feel badly about themselves feel a bit better, even if temporarily. The media, politicians, and academics have also perpetuated the myth that if a person just feels better about themselves, then the right kind of behavior will follow. In reality, it is far from a predictable connection.

The self-esteem hype was at a climax in the 1960s, a time of heightened drug use among teens and young adults. It was also a time of increased distrust of the government and other authorities, including parents. In response, millions of dollars went to programs designed to improve the self-esteem among youth, with the expectation that increasing self-esteem would lead to decreased drug use. What was the actual result? The interventions and programs increased the self-esteem of youth and drug users, but they did not change teen or young adult drug usage. Drug users with low self-esteem became drug users with high self-esteem.

Despite these and other contradictory results on changing a person’s self-esteem, we believed what we wanted to in society. What had once been seen as a means to an end became the end-goal as our society wondered what we could do to improve a person’s self-esteem, and we continually assumed that if high self-esteem was reached everything else that was good would follow. Not only have professionals bought into this myth, but advertising and our very way of life seem to perpetually recycle the belief that the ultimate goal is to feel good about ourselves. We buy the newest and best because it makes us feel important.

In my upcoming book about reaching your potential, I provide numerous examples and experiences showing that how we feel about ourselves goes much deeper than “self-esteem.”  We often hear about making meaningful change, but the kind of change will only happen AFTER you know your life has meaning.  Will you join me on this journey and to be among the first to learn when the book is published?



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