Underlying Processes

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Underlying Processes

When self-esteem is thought of as self-affection, or self-love, it refers to worth in a moral or existential sense.  A person is regarded not as a means to specific goals, but as an end in him- or herself.  Self-accepting persons are those who have an accurate perception of themselves in terms of strengths and weaknesses.  They have the ability to face the reality that they are not all they would like to be, yet they live happily and creatively with this self-awareness.  Persons with this sense of personal worth do more than accept their strengths and weaknesses; they also reflect patient hope and quiet conviction that they will grow toward greater wholeness.  Though such persons may criticize themselves, it is without judging condemnation; though they may acknowledge personal limitations, it is with minimal feelings of inadequacy.  The principle of acceptance undergirds this perspective.

Descriptions of self-esteem as self-affection point to personal, moral, or existential worth, as opposed to pragmatic, or instrumental, value.  Self-evaluation tends to view the self as an “it,” with varying degrees of value, whereas self-love tends to view the self as a “thou,” with varying degrees of worth.  One is based upon personal accomplishment and recognition; the other, upon ontological acceptance, or the valuing of one’s own being.

These two forms of self-esteem operate in all persons.  persons affectively evaluate what they can do (instrumental achievement).  our culture seems to value the instrumental approach more than the existential approach,  and perhaps this is the reason some writers feel there is an epidemic of self-doubt, despair, and self-hatred in our society.

As a complex value judgment about personhood, self-esteem can be further understood by examining two dimensions related to it – breadth and depth.

Self-esteem has breadth to the extent that persons judge themselves positively in many specific areas of life – preaching, visiting, parenting, swimming, or cooking; it is narrowed when individuals restrict positive evaluations to only one or two aspects of their personhood, and all other areas are viewed negatively.

Self-esteem demonstrates a high degree of depth when it endures in spite of minor or major setbacks – flunking a test or being seriously ill; it is superficial when it gives way to minor, or even imaginary, experiences (e.g., fear of not doing well).

Most persons have a mixture of positive and negative feelings about themselves, growing out of their life experiences.  These feelings have emerged from being recognized or ignored, and cover the whole gamut of self-pictures, in varying degrees of breadth and depth.

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About georgehach

I am a retired Lay Minister, acting as a prophet for God to understand the end times that is comingg and how to prepare for it.
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