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Super Achievers Driven by Low Self-Esteem?

Posted May 22 2009 11:55pm

Chad (Africa)

A super achiever with low self esteem? Sounds more like an oxymoron than anything else. And yet if we take a closer look at what drives the super achiever, we may find precisely a lack of appreciation and recognition of value of the self. What does a person who is driven to achieve success after success actually get in return? A sense of accomplishment you might say…the satisfaction of having arrived at a sought-after goal…the pleasure of success. All of these possibilities are indeed, correct. And many achievers achieve for those reasons. But many others do not.

Many others are driven instead by a need for recognition…a need for appreciation…a need for approval…a need for applause…a need for respect from others…a need for, in other words, an outer admiration and positive reception of the self. Being driven, in other words, by this acknowledgment of the self from others, from an external source, rather than by the intrinsic, internal, self-propelled feeling of achievement.

When the feeling comes from the inside, it is an affirmation of what the individual already knows and believes about him or herself. When, however, the need for the feeling can only be fulfilled by an outer, external source, then it is because the individual does not believe in his or her own value, merit, and worth. This can be a critical situation for the self, because under these circumstances it is forever doomed to seek what it needs by achieving more and more, greater and higher success, in order to assure itself the admiration it requires in order to simply feel good about itself.

The solution to this rather untenable predicament is not as difficult as it may appear at first glance. Often the “comfort zone” (see my earlier post about this topic) is an important factor. Another is the realization that one seeks external approval or recognition by achieving in order to feel good. The next step is to realize that without the external approval one never feels as good about oneself as with it. Next comes the question why this might be so and the rather evident answer that it involves one’s sense of self esteem. If this sense of self esteem were on a healthy level, one would not need the external recognition, because then one would offer this sense of recognition to oneself, by oneself. And therein lies the final step to the solution: working on one’s sense of self esteem by giving to oneself all of the approval and accolades one would give to another who does or achieves as oneself does. In other words, treat, admire, and respect yourself as well as you would treat your most dearly beloved partner, friend, child, or admired associate. You deserve it and you are worth it!
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