Self-esteem is NOT what you think. It’s not really the ‘I feel good about myself’ emotion. If you would have asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have guessed that such interesting topics would be taught in dental school, but here I am learning about them.
My favorite class in school right now is Dentist-Patient-Relationship. Here we learn about the interactions we will encounter, and the kind of mental maneuvering we have to do in order to deliver optimal treatment and prevent the patient from standing in the way of their oral health.
One way to do this is the concept of interpersonal contracts, of which I won’t get into too specific details right now. They’re basically an understanding between the doctor and patient that both parties are working to meet each others expectations.
In one of our recent classes, Dr. Hittelman the Psychologist who teaches this course, made an interesting distinction about what self-esteem is. We already know it’s not just the ‘I feel good about myself’ emotion. Rather it’s a feeling that you are a valuable human being by possessing a quality that makes you such. This could be for a number of reasons, including but not exclusive to, having a skill, talent, job, relationship, helping people, being attractive, etc.
I think Dr. Hittelman put it best though when he said that self-esteem is the answer to the question ‘why are you worth feeding?’ Sitting down with a blank text file, heading the paper ‘why am I worth feeding?’, and unleashing your mind to write freely might create a new awareness for you.
Although this wasn’t an exercise recommended by Dr. Hittelman, and I can’t say it’s a valid Psychological exercise, I do think that there are a couple of valuable things that will come out of such an exercise for you.
1. You’ll realize why you’re already worth feeding. You might become aware of something that is valuable about you, which you might have overlooked before. You’ll be able to then focus in on this worth, do more of it, and use it to raise your self-esteem. Being proud of yourself, for one reason or another, will color your days a different color as you move forward through life. By doing this exercise, you’re allowing yourself to choose the colors.
2. You’ll realize why you think you’re not worth feeding. Whether or not this it will come down to your personal opinion is arbitrary, but perhaps you really aren’t being a very valuable person at the moment. By doing this exercise, and self-actualizing about where you think you are lacking in this department, I believe you could create positive forward-bound momentum in your life. If you’re already at rock bottom, that means you have the whole world to expand and improve into.
Regardless of where you stand, there is always room for improvement. You can make a list of things you’d like to improve upon in yourself, and slowly but surely take action towards being a valuable person.
Here’s your chance. In the comments below, answer the question, ‘why are you worth feeding?’ – Don’t think of it as bragging, you have full rights here to say what you think. You could do just one, or list several, it’s up to you.