Self-esteem is one of the rages of the moment. Many people, especially young people, are troubled by questions such as “Do I have defective self-esteem?, a poor self-image?, inadequate self-worth?” And they don’t know how to answer. Without high self-esteem, some will tell me I am doomed to failure. Is this true? And if it is, how am I to achieve that self-esteem? By thinking well of myself? By striving that others think well of me…? But, then what if I think to highly of myself or fool others into thinking too highly of me?
Besides, it is always good to have high self-esteem? Is a person who has a very high opinion of himself or herself likely to have many friends? Or is the less self-opinionated person more likely to be popular?
This booklet tries to go to the root of these questions. It starts by distinguishing between “a proper mode of self-esteem which is beneficial to each individual”, and “a mode being propagated worldwide today which can be very harmful”…
Self-esteem is harmful when it simply comes from or leads to self-love. At the core of this the author suggests, “lies a fundamental fear of isolation. If I don’t love myself, no one will love me. The truth of course if that the more I love myself in a self-centered way, the less likely it is that others will love me”. Unqualified self-esteem, the author concludes, leads in fact to growing self-isolation.
The study the comes out in favour of a balanced self-esteem – where a person has found a deeper way of looking at self, in the light of how he or she is looked at from a higher perspective.
Msgr. Cormac Burke is a former civil lawyer and a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature. After thirty years of pastoral and teaching activity in Europe, North America and Africa. Pope John Paul II appointed him a Judge of the Roman Rota, the High Court of the Church, where he served from 1986 to 1999.
In 1994 the National Federation of Catholic Physicians of the United States accorded him the Linacre Award for his writings in the field of marriage and sexual ethics. A prolific author, his best known books include Covenanted Happiness and Man and Values, both published by Scepter Press. On retirement from the Rota, he returned to Africa where he has continued to teach at Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya.