Clinically Speaking is a blog that will allow anyone to learn about Social Work, case presentations in psychotherapy, and the relationship of pop culture in psychology. Come one...come all!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I am amazing...or am I just good?

For years psychologist have researched how some one builds self-esteem, is it innate, or it plain old ego? A classic question that reporters love to ask athletes or business start-ups are: How did you know what you have was special? Rightfully so, it is a question I think people ask themselves all the time, not just those who have been able to accomplish alot of things. Is it self-esteem? will? Their ego to say to themselves "I am awesome and this will work out" when it might actually be a total failure? C'mon Vamans!

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Harriet Brown reported that according to Joanne Wood, a professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, set out to test the notion that affirmations and other such self-talk make people feel better about themselves. The subjects in her study who started out with high self-esteem did report feeling a little better after engaging in positive self-talk. But those with low self-esteem—the very people you'd expect to use such techniques—felt worse. This means that those with already good self-esteem don't really need external stimuli to feel good about themselves, they always will feel good about themselves. Conversely, those who didn't have good self-esteem may be trying to find external stimuli to feel good...but that may not work.

Which returns us to our question: Are you born with self-esteem? or it not self-esteem, it's ego?
Ego and the notion of being overconfident has always been associated as negative trait we all say "oh that guy is so egotistical" or sports analyst say "its really important that they are confident but not overly confident because on any given Sunday etc." Yet, recent research has shown that when someone is over-confident in their abilities they will more often than not be successful in that area. The University of Edinburgh found that "overconfidence actually beats accurate assessments in a wide variety of situations, be it sport, business or even war...overconfidence frequently brings rewards, as long as spoils of conflict are sufficiently large compared with the costs of competing for them."

There is so much more research and this is only the tip of the iceberg, but I'd like to suggest, that there is a fine line between ego and self-esteem. Neither of which can be learned, they are both innate. One can increase their self-esteem from good to great, but if it is not inherent within them I dont believe it can be obtained. When it involves the differentiation between self-esteem and ego that is something entirely different. Having good self-esteem does not mean you dont need assistance, it's the opposite. It means you are fully aware of what you're good and what you suck at. Ego, on the other hand is a false sense of inflated self-esteem. You may actually excel at something and it may help you, but you may also just think you excel at something and be detrimental to the task. When you are cognizant of this you wont be the guy or girl at work who people say "ugh that egoistical ass".

Have a splendid day!

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