Article by Michael Pietrzak
John was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1954, but for him, life wasn’t much to be thankful for. A birth defect caused John to wear painful leg braces, and his first-grade teacher told his parents he would never read, write, or amount to anything in life. (Dyslexia and speech impediments, both of which John had, weren’t well understood in the ’50s.)
Accepting that he was worthless, John dropped out of school at age 14 and moved to Hawaii to live in a tent. After a near-death experience, fate brought John an enigmatic 93-year-old mentor who changed his life with a single statement: “Each of us, no matter how seemingly worthless, has genius within us.”
John’s self-image radically improved. He began to read voraciously. He put himself through college, where he graduated magna cum laude. Today, Dr. John Demartini is one of the world’s top human behavioral specialists, a sought-after speaker, and the author of more than 40 books.
Fear and Loathing in the Modern World
“I tell you, my man, this is the American Dream in action!” — Hunter S. Thompson
Most of us born in the West had a much easier start in life than Dr. Demartini, but we still laugh to think we have genius within ourselves. In fact, many of us suffer from low self-esteem.
At a personal development seminar I attended in 2016, one speaker asked the crowd, “How many of you feel like you’re not enough as human beings?” In a stadium packed with successful professionals, 95 percent of the audience raised a hand.
Epidemics of depression, anxiety, addiction, and social isolation are spreading. In a society that idolizes celebrities, athletes, and experts, why do we have so much trouble appreciating the most important people: ourselves?
How to Spot Low Self-Esteem
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” — Mark Twain
Poor self-esteem is subtle. People don’t generally interrupt your morning coffee to tell you how much they suck, nor do we often notice it in ourselves. Instead, unhealthy self-opinions manifest in sneaky ways:
Depression, anxiety, and body image issues: At times the symptoms are overt, but sometimes you would have no idea a successful person was battling inner demons.
Perfectionism: Perfectionism doesn’t stem from having high standards, but from wanting the approval of others. The fatal failing of this behavior is that, in striving to be flawless, you’ll always fall short.
Constant anger: People often use anger to mask their pain. If you’re angry, you don’t need to deal with your shame, hurt, or guilt. It’s a way to pretend the opinions of others don’t actually affect you.
People-pleasing: A genuine desire to serve others is commendable, but people-pleasing goes beyond service. It becomes a desperate attempt to get from others the love and respect we’re not giving ourselves.
Addiction: Our society says moderate drug and alcohol use is harmless fun, but these behaviors can be the doors we use to escape from a reality in which we don’t like ourselves very much.
Narcissism: Know people who are reeeal big on themselves? This self-promotion likely serves to cover up a deep sense of inadequacy. People who are genuinely confident don’t need to tweet about it.
Once you spot one or more of these traits in yourself, you can work to remove them. But then again, what’s the point? Doesn’t achievement require a little suffering? […]