First came the self-esteem movement. Then came the backlash to the self-esteem movement.
What’s pretty clear is we don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling ourselves how great we are, or even from other people telling us how great we are. At the same time, it’s a rare person who isn’t sometimes — or often — plagued with painful self-doubt.
So what’s the secret? When you’re feeling lousy, what can you do to feel better about yourself? It turns out that we feel better about ourselves when we behave in ways that we find worthy of our own respect — such as helping other people, surmounting a fear, and the like.
Here are some suggestions that I try to remember when I’m feeling full of self-doubt and self-anxiety (a term I just made up — is there a more elegant term for this feeling?).
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