Why do the best people have the worst self esteem?

Maybe someone can help me understand this. Why is it that the great, funny, wonderful guys that you see all this and more in can’t ever seem to see it in themselves? No matter what you try to do to make them see it… tell them, show them, whatever, they still insist, time after time, of thinking themselves not worthy of a chance at happiness? Is it just that the stick needs to be applied to the head a little more forcefully here, or what???

Someone help me figure this out! My sanity is on the line!

I just got off my Pit rant, and I’m still simmering down. Not to toot my own horn either, but . . .

Because I personally have never taken positive attention well. I never did recieve it well. And I still don’t like it when people tell me how good looking I am, and how ‘I’m such a great guy’. That sort of stuff gives me absolutely no concrete material facts. If you told me, say, “You handled that airfield waiver well. You busted your rear, you are a hard worker,” or “You have a great speaking voice, and you really are a good public speaker.” then you are giving me good information on potential talents I have, that I can turn around and use.

But don’t give me vague “warm fuzzy” compliments. I get defensive. . .

Still ranting. Go ahead and kick me :slight_smile:

Why are you asking me about this? I mean, like my opinion means anything!
No… really. If they had dads like mine, they were put down for doing thing like “reading” and “liking computers” instead of being able to split wood with one clean stroke. Time played a trick on him, I just aged weirdly. When pubertly hit me, I got hairy and awkward, and it wasn’t until I was 18 that I got strong, and then I got stong with a vengence!

Anyway, it just depends on their experience. They may have been the smart guy who was lusting after a cheerleader who was dating the quarterback, he may have gotten picked excessively in junior high, who knows??

If you see a guy that you think is great, smart and talented, grab his ass, bring him to the side, and tell him! I’ve been this guy. He can be oblivious to any interest that anyone has in him. Trust me.

Tripler - Thanks for the advice. I thought I’d been saying things that were specific rather than just the general warm fuzzies, but when I talked to him tonight, I realized differently. So, I’ve started going for the "You tell me the truth when no one else will, and stand by my side through it all"s rather than the "Your wonderful"s Is that the right idea?

I’ve pretty much done this. He KNOWS I’m interested. Knows I care. I THINK he knows that I’m not just playing him (he says he knows it, anyway) He just thinks so low of himself that he doesn’t think that we can have anything together because of his bad luck in the past. I just don’t know how to get past that!

Maybe you’ve got the cause and effect thing backwards. Maybe the guys who think the worst of themselves feel they have to work that much harder at being kind to everyone.

That’s what I was going to say, but I would’ve been much wordier about it.

Most of the best people I know where put down as kids and made fun of. Therefore, they tend to be more humble and nicer to those around them without realizing how great they really are being they are so used to being a nobody.

A lot of us, especially those of us with this personality trait that can, I admit, be maddening, care what girls think. No, we really care what girls think. To the point where if the girl we’re head over heels in love with says ‘no’ when we ask her out (okay, this collective editorial we is getting irritating), we think it’s because we have some big, huge personality defect.

[sub]Okay, 'nuff of that ‘we’ crap.[/sub]

And guys of that sort have ridiculously bad timing - especially in high school - so the feeling/image of worthlessness is allowed to perpetuate itself and grow stronger. Eventually, this feeling, and the self pity that accompanies it becomes too thick to see through regardless of what you (“you’re my friend, you have to say that”) have to say about it.

Sadly enough, sometimes it seems as if only The Perfect Girl can get through guys who are like that (after all, everything TPG says is the gospel truth), though a lot of us get over ourselves and look at things rationally. One way or another it’s just a phase. An indeterminately long one, perhaps, but it’s not irreversible.

So even if you’re not his Perfect Girl, help him see his own self worth (it’s possible) and he’ll thank you for years to come. He may even buy you dinner. :slight_smile:

bites lip Could be, but I don’t think so. I mean, that would fit ME to a T. (The shy, self-concious woman that I am) But he’s not the “so nice you want to slap him across the room” type. He’s just a general NICE GUY. The type of guy I always tried to get in HS but would have nothing to do with me, just wanted to be friends. He doesn’t tell me only what I want to hear, doesn’t cater to my every whim. He can let someone have it if they deserve it, and has a strong, honorable set of morals. The biggest, only problem with him that I can see is his lack of self esteem. I just wish he could see himself through my eyes for one minute. Then maybe he’d realize that he IS something special.

Even if I’m not his PG, I am, and always will be his friend. No matter what happens with him and I, I want him to realize that he IS worth it. I just don’t know how to get through to him. The stick alongside head idea is getting more and more tempting every day! :smiley:

I think you’re onto something there. It’s called empathy, being able to put yourself inside someone else’s experience. But I think you’re also right that it can be trap. Learning humility and kindness is great, but somewhere along the line it also involves letting go of old injuries.

This territory isn’t my strong suit, but I read one time that forgiveness is accepting what’s happened and no longer wanting revenge for it. I always thought “forgiving” was harder than “forgetting” but maybe they’re equal. Maybe comes a time when even reliving old patterns keeps old damages alive, even if they’re self-directed.

That was total blather.


Um just a thought here…but isn’t part of that whole thing what MAKES them so attractive??? Give me a funny guy who doesn’t think he’s perfect over a cocky guy EVERYDAY! Live with it and let them know it’s a part of them you like and enjoy being around (though wallowing in self-pity isn’t part of the package) Don’t try to change him, just let him know you crave the WHOLE him…flaws and all…<wink>

If it were just a matter of just knowing that he’s not perfect, it would be one thing. But being told that he’s not good enough for me, that I deserve better, being convinced that a relationship won’t work b/c of his past history… that’s something totally different. I don’t want to change him, just allow him to see that he IS the wonderful person that I’ve been telling him he was for years. No matter what happens, he needs to see this… to give himself a chance.

Sounds like all you can do is wear down his defenses until he’s tired of debating with you…if you think he’s worthy, he IS…as far as other people saying “what you deserve”…I deserve a buttload of money and why haven’t I won the lottery yet? Go for your happiness and enjoy the ride! (gosh I hope he reads this!)

Seriously, before I married my love ,my sunshine, my little black cloud whom I adore, people I worked with told me I “deserved” better…people I went to high school with told they pictured me with someone else…2 kids and 10 years later, I still love the grumpy ass to pieces and wouldn’t trade him in for a millionaire.

this better count as a Valentine card cuz this is as mushy as I’m gonna get!

Wow. I’m impressed with some of the intelligence and insight shown on this thread. As someone who has been described by others (long, long ago) as the type of person this thread is about, I think KKBattousi and TVeblen are on to something. (I should add here that I think this situation applies to women too, maybe even more so.)

TruePisces, do not do the “stick to the head” thing you are planning. It has the potential to seriously backfire. He may just withdraw. Instead, affirm at every opportunity (without being overbearing) what you think of his character. And be patient. You’re fighting the years of conditioning that made him the way he is now. It could take years to undo them. And eventually, draw a line in the sand. I dated a girl once who constantly put herself down and said she wasn’t good enough for me. Finally one day I snapped a little and said “What kind of person do you think I am? Do you think I hang out with losers? Well, I don’t. You can think whatever you want about yourself, but because I care about you, I will not sit here and listen to you disparage someone I care about.”
Maybe that would work for this guy, mybe it wouldn’t. But that is what helped that girl see herself differently, by showing her that what she felt affected both of us.

I realized that there was a more “abstract” reply to the OP, as well. I think good people sometimes have low self-esteem because our society rarely openly rewards that goodness. Think of that TV show “Survivor.” Who won the money? The “nicest” people? No, Richard Hatch, the asshole who was able to turn the others against one another. A clearer message is not possible, as far as pop culture is concerned. It’s up to us to rise above this.

There are a number of factors:

[li]Nice people are a lot easier to take advantage of than mean people. Consequently, they are abused more often on a statistical level. This, of course, only exacerbates the to-be-further-mentioned “vicious scratch-itch cycle”. No matter how high the opinion you may have of yourself, it can be eroded by such negative experiences. Such loss of self esteem can lead to;[/li]
[li]Overcompensation. When one feels to be at a disadvantage they frequently try harder than they are required to. The viscious scratch-itch cycle will then spiral another turn when other people are put off by the overly intense efforts made, regardless of how earnest they may be. The off-putting reaction that is so often received serves only to ratchet up the vicious cycle yet another notch.[/li]
[li]Another factor is that a nice person is much more prone to self examination. Intrinsic to mean behavior is an inability to place one’s self into another’s shoes. Concomitant with that is a common unwillingness to introspect as well. Autoscopic thought will invariably bring you into recognition of your own particular shortcomings. Nice people are typically more aware of their faults and may suffer from disappointment in themselves to a larger degree than thoughtless people.[/li]
[li]Current society also heavily enforces the machismo attitude that being nice is a form of weakness. There is far too often a degree of rejection by what seems to be a more cohesive faction of the general population. Rarely is the toll paid in order to “belong” to those seemingly more connected groups examined. Too often, in order to “fit in” there must also be a tacit agreement to avoid any discussions of self-improvement or personal flaws. The destructive nature of such avoidance is not often brought to light.[/li]
[li]Not “fitting in” will frequently continue to spiral the vicious scratch-itch cycle. That women continue to favor the “bad boys” over the “nice guys” only serves to strengthen the position of the bad boy mentality and their ability to demean the nice guys for being weak. Most sadly of all, women are very often taken advantage of for being nice due to chauvinism, entrenched legal attitudes and a reduced ability to extract retribution due to mere lack of physical strength.[/li]
The combination of the above factors has severely impacted modern society. Many features of courtesy and helpfulness in people are being punished out of existence. The cold and callous behavior that we all witness with increasing alarm is a direct manifestation of this skewed mentality about being nice.

If all of this isn’t enough to damage your self esteem you must have a heart of stone.

It’s not other people saying he’s not what I deserve… it’s HIM telling me that. That I deserve better than to be with him. (I really should learn to write more clearly, shouldn’t I!!! :stuck_out_tongue: ) But I DO think he’s worthy. No one better. Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but then, neither am I, and perfection would get awful old after awhile…

Lizard - Thanks for the advice. Patience is something I don’t always have, but stubborness I have in spades. If I think I have a chance at something, I don’t give up (which is what causes me to play solitaire for hours on end! :slight_smile: ) But what you say makes sense. He didn’t become so down on himself over night, so it won’t take that short of a period of time for him to realize that what I’m seeing isn’t just born out of a long term friendship and the possibility of something more.

So, how did the firecracker test turn out? When I say this, I mean MY version of the firecracker test.

I have to second what KKB said above. I’m usually considered a “nice guy”, but I usually also end up eating lunch and taking breaks alone. And when, as I posted before, the only women who seem to want to have anything to do with me live hundreds of miles away and have never actually met me, it does put the association in your mind and kills your self-esteem.

Actually standing in front of you looking at you is not “meeting” you. That’s seeing you. There’s a difference.

Patience is stubborness used to a good end. :slight_smile: If you really care about him enough to not give in and he’s really as good a man as you think he is, he’ll see the light eventually. Just be prepared for the long haul. Good luck. He’s a lucky guy to have you.