[Validation (V) ::: Worth | Referencing (R) ::: Efficacy]
Internal and external locus
If we combine Dr Nathaniel’s definition of self-esteem—that is that self-esteem has two integral and inseparable—yet equally important and parallel—components:
- Self-efficacy [knowledge of our effectiveness/our value/guilt]
- Self-respect [Making choices appropriate to life/self-worth/shame
…with another multi-dimensional idea ::: that the “high self-esteem” and “low self-esteem” binary representation is inadequate to accurately explain some behaviors and behavioral choices, and we look at where the individual’s attention is, then we begin to create a richer and deeper—and therefore more accurate signifier—a more accurate representation of esteem for the self.
I prefer that phrase, that is: esteem for the self, to the more common phrase “self-esteem” for two reasons:
- The phrase/word “self-esteem” is one of the most misunderstood and overused phrases in American pop psychology. And,
- The phrase Esteem for the Self refocuses our attention where it should be; our opinion of the “me” in our self-concept.
The sad part is that what most of the “experts” in academia call “self-esteem” is simply not self-esteem, but rather “other-esteem”. This can border on the absurd when supposed experts call for an end to competition. Or, an end to grades in school.
Given that our esteem for the self is our immune system for life, it must be tested, so it can grow, respond, and develop the metaphoric antibodies to the hardships of life. While I am far from competitive, I am glad it existed in my upbringing. Grades. Martial Arts training, science contests, spelling bees, etc.
Anyway … to bring a richer texture to the conversation … in the above figure we have 4 basic locations or orientations to esteem for the self. Internal / external and validation / referencing.
Below are some relatively raw notes on the quadrants above, but more importantly, below that is a table that lays out some of the misconceptions about what it means to have true esteem for the self. For those of you who know me to be a proponent of stage conceptions, this is not in conflict with an egoic stage conception, but it would overly complicate the conversation for mass consumption to add another dimension in this writing.
If you are curious about how this quadrant-based model would interact with a stage conception for egoic development, shoot me an email … ok:
With no further ado:
UPPER LEFT ::: If someone is Internally validated [VI] and they are externally referenced [RE] then we have the ideal situation; someone who is internally validated, and therefore “immune” at a core level from the opinions of others—yet also externally referenced, meaning they care about gathering feedback from the outside world and from others—so they can continually become more effective, and—if need be—adjust their behaviors. This quadrant is the healthiest of the quadrants. Those grounded in this quadrant will be happiest, more at ease with themselves, interact more effectively with others, and produce better results in the real world.
UPPER RIGHT ::: Internally validated and internally referenced. Not ideal. They truly do not care about the opinions of feelings of others—and do not need them, but simultaneously they do not notice their impact or care about their impact. You could call this person the empowered idiot. Unaware entirely.
LOWER LEFT ::: Externally validated and externally referenced. This person is constantly contorting themselves to whomever is around them, based on subtle or gross cues, but they are also dependent on the opinion of others to feel good about themselves. They try to be everything for and to everybody. I jokingly refer to this quadrant as “hell”. They will never feel good about themselves as they are never in touch with themselves—and do not even know who they are—and their feelings will shift like the wind upon the whims or preferences of others.
LOWER RIGHT ::: Externally validated but internally referenced. This person is desperate for people’s attention, their validation and praise, yet is inner-focused and not able to adjust to cues. Imagine them seeking approval, and constantly bumping into walls and people all the time. Desperate for approval. Never quite able to do the right thing to get it. Let's call this quadrant "purgatory".