Esteem comes from others. No matter how highly one thinks one deserves it, that doesn’t change how much others think you deserve it.
My unique insight into psychology (point me to sources if I’m wrong) is that social-esteem and self-esteem are intimately bound. It’s been discussed before how there is a social esteem economy. I think I’m the first person to claim that this economy is inextricably bound up with our own self-esteem. My claim is that self esteem is nothing but our own evaluation of our position of social esteem.
There are many sources and types of esteem. Different crowds have different esteem values. Whores and thieves, vs high society parents, for instance.
If you want to be esteemed by someone, be esteemed in the way that particular someone will give esteem. I get the frustration of having different values. Maybe we can teach values, and maybe we can “hold frame” to use the sheer force of personality to impose values.
Or we can just look elsewhere and find like minded people who don’t need a Pygmalian project to be educated to have like enough minds to recognize our value.
No matter what, it’s not only about what you are, it’s about how you are perceived. We have frustratingly little control over what others value.
Esteem is social and contextual, and therefore so is self-esteem. You might get esteem from video player geeks. But show up at a billionairs cocktail party and you would no longer feel so proud of your gaming ability.
Esteem is measured out to place us on social hierarchies, of which there are an infinite many.
Self esteem is an active and changing self evaluation that also happens within context. I say that there is no reason to fight it, but instead we can work with that evolved system. We don’t need the defenses of the narcissist in order to hold our own in situations where we are outclassed.
We don’t need to get angry and irritable at others for being too blind to see our value. (Peter-Parker-underwear-hero-syndrome)
We can instead work on the externals, for situations that affect our life in ways that we want. Play the game. Craft our self, such that we appear more estimable, to whom and when that helps us.
Doing so is not merely Machiavelian, it is the essence of growing genuine and deserved personal pride.
Be seen as excellent (in as many varied ways as benefit you) in order to FEEL excellent, in as many varied contexts as possible.
This is very different than be excellent to feel excellent. Without others seeing you as excellent is just doesn’t work.
Esteem, pride, self esteem, self evaluation – all of this is social. Interpersonal. It is not masturbation. It doesn’t count or mean anything without external validation.
External validation is good!
One implication of all this is that it’s a big help to others to give compliments. It will make them feel better, and this will make you more valuable to them.