healthy esteem

May 15, 2023

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thanks for tuning in. i appreciate you.

today i’m talking about esteem. 

it’s all about respect

esteem is the level of respect you have toward yourself and other people..

it’s critical you develop healthy esteem because you can NOT have healthy relationships without it. that’s how it works. 

this is true when it comes to your relationship both with yourself and with other people. 

healthy adult

this frame comes from terry real, a renowned marriage therapist. check out his stuff, it’s good.

the model uses the terms “adaptive child” and “healthy adult”, as a way to distinguish your level of esteem at any given moment.

the healthy adult represents a “same as” position when it comes to your relationship with another person (persons) or yourself. 

that is, when you are acting as a healthy adult you understand yourself to be the “same as” other person. you understand that everyone has inherent worth, no one more and no one less. 

when we lose contact with that reality we are not acting as a healthy adult. we are in what is known as an “adaptive child” position. 

adaptive child

the adaptive child is defined as either being in a “shame” (less than) position or a position of “grandiosity” (more/better than)

an adaptive child state occurs then, when you either “fall down” into shame or “rise up” into grandiosity. 

the distinguishing feature here is the presence of contempt.

contempt has an edge of meanness, and is the energy that drives the separateness, or unhealthy esteem. 

when you fall down into shame, you have contempt for yourself and are typically closed down, constricted. you are not available for the relationships. 

when you rise up into excessive esteem, or grandiosity, you have contempt for other people. grandiosity is harder to see as it can feel good or powerful, but its wrapped in self-righteousness. no good. 

i like to think of contempt like holding a flashlight where the light beam represents contempt; you are either shining that flashlight onto yourself (shame) or shining it onto another person (grandiosity). 

TAKEAWAY: contempt will kill your relationships. 

always starts with awareness

the first step in building healthy esteem is to simply recognize when you’re “one down” or “one up”. 

i often encourage clients to keep a log throughout the week of times you are “one down” or “one up”.

when you notice these times also notice what the stressor or trigger was, as well as what your primary thoughts, emotions and physical sensations are.  these become identifiers that you are in an adaptive child state.

when you become aware, you can then “intervene” and return to a healthy adult position. 

that’s it. that’s the invitation. 

as you begin to notice if your tendency is to fall down or to rise up, you are going to start improving your relationship – your relationships will start becoming a resiliency factor instead of a stress factor.

that’s all for this edition – let me know if you have any questions, concerns or additional thoughts. 

best of luck.


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