Self-Esteem and Ethics
How to link self-esteem to ethics?
To understand how self-esteem can mesh with the notion of ethics, it is important to start by uncovering the reality underneath.
Nowadays, we live at a time where the need to understand this feature of human psychology is crucial, for we have never been so confronted with situations, ideas and conversations that call for self-esteem.
In a society where the individual has the opportunity, more than ever, to exist on his/her own, anchoring and working on self-esteem has become a daily routine in order to maintain one’s freedom of action and choice.
Self-esteem can be considered as the means that allows us to make our past worthy, as well as freeing ourselves from social influences – to become ourselves.
There are three components:
- Self-love: our ability to love ourselves, despite our flaws and shortcomings. The same way we are able to do it for others.
- Self-vision: this is our ability to assess our strengths and weaknesses, or at least what we consider them to be. A good vision of oneself is the possibility of evaluating ourselves with kindness and objectivity.
- Self-confidence: it is linked to taking action, and knowing that one is capable of acting adequately in a given situation. It is central, because the more we act, the more we nourish our self-esteem.
These three components are obviously interdependent and come to nourish each other. It is our responsibility as individuals to take the time and perspective necessary to come to understand these mechanisms, and learn to use them in different strategies.
To do this, developing self-knowledge is one of the first criteria for working concretely on one’s self-esteem, as the ancient Greeks already advocated for.
This introspection thus pushes us to free ourselves from our beliefs and our limitations, and invites us to move to the conscious act, detached from the distorting prism through which we are used see the world.
Even today, learning to love and know oneself appears to many people as a certain kind of egocentricity, narcissism.
An inner reflection that would cut us off from the world as it leads us to look at ourselves. But it is obviously quite the opposite.
As Foucault said, you can only feel interest in others if you feel interest in yourself.
In order to love the others as they are, we must therefore learn to love ourselves. Otherwise, we are not in real connection, but only in the unconscious search for permanent validation through the mirror that others hold us.
In addition, a lack of self-esteem leads to doubt the love that others can hold for us: we then become our own tormentor, violently pushing away what we are eagerly seeking.
Thus I need to put this energy into knowing myself better, when I take care of myself; consequently I take care of the others.
This is the first step to link self-esteem and personal ethics.
Individual ethics and “citizen interiority”
For many of us fellow citizens the notion of individual ethics tends to take more and more place in our daily functioning, since religion and its morals occupy less and less space in public and private spaces.
When religious morality decided on behalf of individuals, the need to develop personal ethics, as it should be everyone’s responsibility, was not a priority.
Each individual lived her/his life according to the codes and dogmas established by religion, and modeled all of their life choices according to what was catered to them as “the truth”.
Today, it is fundamental for everybody to take the time to build one’s own personal ethics, inspired both by putting one’s own history and interests into perspective, and of course, by social ethics, which would evolve in parallel to the evolutions of human society.
Developing our self-esteem is therefore a matter of empowerment.
When I love myself more, I take care of others.
When I am at peace with myself, I am at peace with others.
The idea of a citizen interiority developed by Thomas d’Ansembourg (2) then takes on its full meaning.
As a citizen, it is my individual responsibility to put energy into this inner development, which will allow me to contribute to a harmonious development of the city and to living together thus guaranteeing the well-being of each and everyone.
Whether on a purely individual level (I love myself better, so I let others really love me, and I am at peace with me) or on a societal level (a fulfilled individual guarantees a peaceful society) ; self-esteem therefore becomes a central pillar of our existence.
Social ethics and responsibility
Of course, social ethics are built regardless of the state of inner development of individuals. But we can safely assume that people cut off from themselves participate in the creation of a social ethics that is not only not optimal, but could ultimately prove harmful to all.
Going further, one can imagine that they thus shed their individual responsibility in favor of collective responsibility, which frees them from this effort on themselves.
And keeps them in a form of moral dependence on an “elite” to which they leave the burden of creating the social ethics, according to its own standards.
And without questioning the ability of this “elite” to have made this inner journey.
Introspection necessary, but how to do it?
Why then, if this introspection is necessary for us to flourish as individuals, so few people seem to take the time to start the process?
In my opinion, the first reason is that we are not taught, from childhood, to enter into this dynamic of inner reflection.
The second is that once we reach the age where we take on responsibility for ourselves, it can seem daunting, even worrying for many to embark on this search for themselves.
There is obviously a certain comfort in staying in a “known/comfort” zone of action, even if it limits us in what we can do and expect in our lives.
And then there is the fact that by relieving ourselves of our individual responsibility, we can continue to remain in a certain status of “victim” by the external elements and of life itself; and thus remain in the darkness of the cave.
Maintaining your inner life, as you would with your car, is therefore the reverse of selfishness, but indeed an intellectual duty as a social individuum.
And it is the responsibility of society to empower those who are part of it to be able to move forward on this path.
1 « L’estime de soi, s’aimer mieux pour vivre avec les autres « , C.André & F.Lelord
2 « Du je au nous », T.D’Ansembourg
Passionate about human psychology and personal development, two years ago I chose to end a career in the world of Logistics to start a retraining which will lead me to become a Coach in Self-esteem and romantic relationships. In 2019, I founded the Self Love Project with my partner, and we support single women to help them overcome their blockages and finally meet someone with whom to build a healthy and lasting story. We also support people in couples to help them take stock of their stories and put in place the behaviors that will allow them to live their relationship in harmony. We believe in an education in adult love which is lacking in most of us, and which explains many wanderings and suffering for many. Our line of work is positioned both on the psychological aspect (relationship to oneself, fears, beliefs, etc.) and on the sociological aspect (relaxation of love “norms”); so that everyone can build the love life that suits them.