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Underbelly: 10 Things - Diligence

Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly
#131 in a series of wild and precious ways to enrich your self esteem.

This week I contemplated diligence — and self esteem, confidence, and courage.
Our personalities, who we really are, how we are perceived, and our blind spots were on my mind all week, swirling around aimlessly — and loudly, apparently, as I was caught contemplating out loud about this by a runner who passed me on the trail early Sunday morning. We had a good laugh as she startled me and then kept on running.
The more I engage in life’s challenges, the healthier it seems my self esteem becomes. Whereas I fully understand that being startled on the trail out of an out loud contemplation could have left me knocking a few points off my self valuation, nothing of the sort occurred.
This did leave me more confused, though. I remained confused — this week I had cut my own hair, dealt with Canada Revenue Service for a total of I think 4 hours (side note — I don’t know who they hire but *wow* are they kind and helpful. I don’t enjoy bureaucratic stuff but this “ordeal” was simply tedious, not irritating), and a few other minor details that could easily have had a pretty negative cumulative effect.
Why, how, is my self esteem so healthy? Was I, am I, delusional? :)
As I was walking to church Sunday morning, post trail-surprise :) I listened to a lovely podcast called “Ologies” This episode was on personality psychology (definitely linking below) and just as I was about 2/3 of my way, Alie mentioned an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Neel Burton, MD called The Secret of Self Esteem — I normally would skip over an article with that title, I think, so I feel extra lucky to have heard it this way…because Alie likes it so much that she read a bit out loud.
The tl;dr version of the article is that diligence — consistently doing good, kind, courageous acts that bravely live up to our ideals.
“Prayer aside, are there any means by which we might increase our self-esteem? Many people find it easier to build their self-confidence than their self-esteem, and, conflating the one with the other, end up with a long list of talents and achievements. Rather than facing up to the real issues, they hide, often their whole life long, behind their certificates and prizes. But as anyone who has been to university knows, a long list of talents and achievements is no substitute for a healthy self-esteem.
While these people work on their list in the hope that it might one day be long enough, they try to fill the emptiness inside them with status, income, possessions, and the other accoutrements of bourgeoisie. Undermine their status, criticize their house or car, and observe in their reaction that it is them that you undermine and criticize.
Similarly, it is no good trying to pump up the self-esteem of children (and, increasingly, adults) with empty, unwarranted praise. The children are unlikely to be fooled, but may instead be held back from the sort of endeavour by which real self-esteem can grow. And what sort of endeavour is that?
Whenever we live up to our dreams and promises, we can feel ourselves growing. Whenever we fail but know that we have done our best, we can feel ourselves growing. Whenever we stand up for our values and face the consequences, we can feel ourselves growing. That is what growth depends on. Growth depends on bravely living up to our ideals, not the ideals of the company that we work for, or our parents’ approval, or our children’s successes, or anything else that is not truly our own but, instead, a betrayal of ourselves.” — Neel Burton, The Secret to Self Esteem
3. Prompt
I think that last paragraph above (which is what Alie read out loud in the Ologies episode) is so key. Diligently, bravely, daily taking steps to live into our dreams, our “future self”.
Self esteem is your self valuation. What do you value? Kindness? Self Control? Peace? Hard work? Strength? Agency? Being good at Wordle? :)
What do you value? What are your ideals? Who is your ideal self?
How close are you now to your “future self”, the person who perfectly embodies all these values?
4. Quest
Consciously move into your “future self” — and, I will put a small twist on Neel Burton’s quote, above. Let’s say you practice cello every day, and become a pretty accomplished cellist. Playing the cello well may not add to your self esteem, but if you value self control and patience, by noticing how those ideals have grown through your building that talent, voila! More self esteem.
5. Level up
Being a valuable person is an interesting concept. I think, perhaps because of the values and ideals we are bombarded with by our (let’s face it, pretty dysfunctional) society, it might be tricky sometimes to see clearly our true value, what we value in ourselves and others.
Maybe this week, try to be a bit of light in that regard? Remind someone of their value to you. That you value their kindness, their peace-making abilities, their patience. Their sense of humor in the face of adversity, their self control…
6. Podcast
Personality Psychology (PERSONALITIES) Encore with Dr. Simine Vazire — alie ward
7. Article — The whole article is really really good.
8. Poem
Repentance by Ameen Rihani - Poems | Academy of American Poets
9. Hero
10. Connect
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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly @wendykkelly

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