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Self-control as an alternative to self-esteem

Meaningful Minds Psychologist Gregory, examines this interesting twist on self esteem. Read more about how self control is a better alternative to self-esteem.

High levels of self-esteem have long been casually associated with a wide variety of benefits, especially in career and academic success. Recent studies have begun to challenge this commonly held view, suggesting that the link between self-esteem and many of these positive personal characteristics and behaviours is actually only a very plausible reverse – people who succeed in work and school spheres are likely to develop higher self-esteem as a result of their success!

This might leave many people with an obvious question – if increasing self-esteem is not all that useful, what should I be spending my time on to improve in myself? Self-control appears to be a leading contender for many of the same benefits previously ascribed to self-esteem – higher levels of self-control predict school achievement, social skills, and social popularity.

Now that I have you hooked on this substitute, let’s get down to the details of how to achieve self-control:

  • Practice makes perfect – practising self-control in a number of different areas of your life allows you to hone in that skill – resist buying a chocolate bar in the grocery checkout queue, say no to the snooze button, and don’t open another browser window

  • Learn to be mindful of the times you show strong self-control and the times when you falter

  • Discard your previous judgemental attitude towards slip-ups, and replace it with a curious and accepting approach which only seeks to return to the wanted behaviour

  • Start small, and build yourself up to bigger targets of behaviours

Self-esteem is not without its own benefits however – people with higher self-esteem tend to feel happier for it, and are viewed favourably to their low self-esteem counterparts within social circles. Having a higher self-esteem is also linked to people who are more likely to take the initiative in things, so it may be useful in goading yourself towards breaking that procrastination cycle you’re struggling with. If you are looking to achieve improvements in your self-esteem particularly, start by learning to be aware of the factors affect your self-esteem. This will help you to identify self-esteem building behaviours, and limit destructive ones.

While self-esteem is not a bad trait to learn to improve, it may not hold many of the advantages that you initially hoped it would. Feel free to pursue self-esteem as a personally desired trait if you would like to, but maybe keep in mind that there are more productive things you could be doing with your time!

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