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Elaine to Gary  Self Esteem 14

On first reading of Gary's strong statement, I must admit to feeling a bit "ganged-up on" and misunderstood, along with a sudden surge of shame for my lack of knowledge and expertise in areas you have both mastered so well.  I will take the opportunity to explain myself, as Gary has just done.
First of all, I did not send Branden's definition of self-esteem as representative of my own.  I sent it because he is the only philosopher/psychologist I know who has taken the time to think about it to the extent of writing 2 books on the subject. Without knowing the views of others, we can't know how to approach the area or make our views known to others who may have been taken in by them.
You wrote
My orientation is, I admit, influenced by an overriding passion for freedom of movement at all levels of my becoming since my childhood.  I had some freedom as a child, but many, many limiting conditions imposed on me.  I think that humans will go to great lengths to seek movement.  Affects are like water and will seep through the cracks of any opening even if it's temporary.
My freedom of physical movement as a child was vast, by today's standards. We lived in small towns of 100 to 200, where everyone knew everyone and children generally had a protective eye on them but few restrictions.  Within that space frame, we were free to do and think and talk about whatever we chose, limited only by the restrictions and values we carried with us from home. Today's kids are badly in need of that kind of freedom.   The restrictions that held me back were in the area of affect, and because restricted affect results in thought and behavior that often is not "free,"  I, too, became extremely interested in why I, and seemingly everyone else I knew, so often communicated and behaved in ways we didn't really intend.

There are usually two descriptions that must be accounted for in human affairs: the description of an observer (from the outside in), and the description of a participant (from the inside out).  I am with you on your descriptions of "self-esteem" from the standpoint of an observer.  What I, and I think David, too, are attempting to come to is a description from the standpoint of a participant -- from the inside out. 

Branden's descriptions are not "my" descriptions, though he may well have summed up all aspects of an observer's descriptions better than anyone else.  David's definition: human nature free from the self-disesteeming psychological reflexes we learn to modulate our
negative-to-self, feelings and thoughts
  is an excellent one, and if I have implied otherwise, I didn't intend to.  I did feel the need to include the basic feeling about ourselves we, as individuals, carry with us that was transmitted to us in our very earliest contacts with our caretakers, before we have become limited by any "self-disesteeming psychological reflexes."   I said, "Nothing could be more inside-out than that feeling you carry within you throughout your life and use to meet challenges and rejections with equanimity."  For me, that is about as inside-out as I can get, because it moves me from within and greatly affects my relationships, as well as my inner orientation to life, despite, and in addition to, the many "self-disteeming" reflexes I later developed.  If I had been neglected and rejected as an infant, I cannot imagine that my general orientation to life and my "self-disesteeming psychological reflexes" wouldn't be quite different. 

 From the inside, self-esteem is not a state or condition but a sense of participation, accomplishment, and mastery in the processes that lead to freedom of meaning-movement.  I use the word participation since much of this "mastery" is in the form of cooperation with those aspects that are beyond voluntary control.

The feeling of self-worth, of human worth, I am talking about is the very matrix of my sense of participation and accomplishment, underlying and helping me continue to move a little more freely in time and space. Rather than learning self-disteeming reflexes, can't our human nature be met with the kind of care that will help us trust and believe in its thrust toward growth and participation?  Don't we need to look, too, at the kind of self-esteeming inner world that helps us trust our own formative directions? And I see my views as being very closely tied in with Polanyi's "personal knowledge."

I don't think parents can "learn" to provide the conditions for self-esteem for their children for the most part.  They may be able to learn a few "techniques," but I think of it more as a "conversion" (like in a religious conversion) where they see the light of the importance of affect in their own lives, and can empathize with what their children are living.  It's a different way of life.

There is no doubt within my own mind that  "conversion" (transformation, maybe) is  the only truly effective way to learn about affect.  And that must always be what we work toward. Anything else is "glued on," to use a term I've used before.  But I am very concerned about what is continuing to happen in the meantime.  I want to find ways to transmit some of what infants and toddlers are feeling now, because the lack of empathy that now exists is not only being passed on through generations, it is escalating in frightening numbers and ways -- a little like the stray cats in my back yard.

 If you feel my own (not Branden's) addition to the self-esteem mix somehow runs counter to yours, you'll have to find another way to convince me, because I'm not yet convinced.  I am in awe of the knowledge both of you possess in our minds' inner workings, and I love learning what I can along with you. But I am also more generally (and passionately) involved with our interrelationships and our modes of communicating, connecting and understanding one another. Maybe you "guys" and your intellects need a little female fumbling here too.

Loving regards to both of you


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