Healthy self-esteem can stand dissent.
When we’re emotionally healthy, we can handle someone being wrong.
We can tolerate it when someone disagrees with us.
Why? Because someone disagreeing with us, or even being objectively wrong as we perceive it, doesn’t threaten what we know.
When we have healthy self-esteem, we know reality exists, and we know we are committed to perceiving and understanding reality to the best of our ability; and we know that commitment is not dependent upon anyone else’s point of view.
(Or anyone else’s opinion about OUR point of view.)
Have you ever noticed how rattled people with low self-esteem become when someone disagrees with them?
They get all uncomfortable. They lash out. They try to silence the dastardly dissenter.
Why? Because people with low self-esteem have usually NOT made the commitment to perceive and understand reality to the best of their ability.
Usually people with low self-esteem HAVE low self-esteem specifically BECAUSE they are basing their understanding of reality on somebody else’s ideas or approval.
There is a strong connection between reality orientation and self-esteem.
It’s not that people with high self-esteem always “know” or assume they are right about what reality entails. To the contrary, most people with high self-esteem are more open than most to the shocking idea that they may in fact be very WRONG about what the world is all about.
But it doesn’t threaten who they are.
Their sense of self and worth exist independent of whether they’re right.
Their sense of self and worth exist independently of whether they’re smart.
People who have low self-esteem don’t identify with that.
They figure if they’re wrong, it must be because they’re terrible, incompetent, silly people; and if THAT’S true, then dear Lord, we can’t let anybody KNOW that, right?
Observe how you react to people disagreeing with you.
Observe how you react to the prospect of being mistaken.
Now observe how the people around you react to disagreement or mistakes.
Have you been sold a bill of goods about how your worth depends on being RIGHT?
Have the people around you bought into the idea that to disagree with an opinion of theirs is to attack them as a person?
You can tell a lot about a person’s self-esteem by how they respond to being criticized or corrected.
High self-esteem tends to meet such instances with humor and curiosity.
Low self-esteem tends to meet them with defensiveness and anger.
The good news is, we can change how we react to people disagreeing with us and correcting us.
We don’t have to stay in a defensive, low self-esteem position.
The thing is, we need to be able to accept the idea that we are not our “rightness.”
We are not our opinions.
We are not even our performances, flawless or otherwise.
We can cultivate our tolerance of being wrong, mistaken, silly, or even disagreed with…if we are patient and compassionate with ourselves.
You know. If we do those things that cultivate high self-esteem.