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Vanity vs Self Esteem

Updated on December 2, 2015

Are you proud or conceited?

Please excuse the topicking; I wasn't allowed more accurate descriptors.

Well, most people think that they have the answer to this question. It's actually not that difficult to figure out, if you're objective. Now, most people cannot be objective about themselves. If you're the latter, it's much more difficult for YOU to decide. Trust me, though, other people have made their decision already. Part of the problem, too, people who may lack self esteem will feel belittled or intimidated by a strong minded, confident individual.

It's okay, and healthy, to be proud of one's accomplishments. Pride is something that we do for ourselves, not to gain the praise and admiration of others (though this is still secondary to some of the most grounded among us). I feel a good example of such is my own desire to look as I do. I do this for me, not for you, nor anyone else. I do appreciate the positive feedback that I get from some, but this is NOT my drive.

An example of what I mean by that last sentence: A friend recently asked me "why should I diet? No one's going to date me or even look at me". My response was simple, maybe a bit cold. I said "because it's you. Take pride in yourself- the way you look, speak and carry yourself".

People with high self esteem, provided it's in check, are mostly happy people. This is a stretch, but bear with me. If I'm happy with the way that I look, perform at the gym, speak in conversation, play my instrument, and understand my job- then I possess many of the ingredients to being happy. My pride in my accomplishments fuels my desire. Now, my humble self- the more objective self fuels my aspiration.

This Zen philosophy illustrates what I mean:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

You're conceited!

An irritating tendency to point out personal achievements, physical strengths, education, financial status, beauty, number of friends, even living vicariously through your friend's strengths, because they're YOUR friend. A never ending need to sway conversation back t'ward you, and an unwillingness to participate in the praise of others inside your "little pond".

Face it, if people hear you speak, and you catch someone's face crinkling up, as you speak of yourself (rolling of the eyes is another dead giveaway)- you speak of yourself and "all of the great things about you"- you don't have many close relationships- all of your friends are self-absorbed dickbags- you often hear of many people speaking ill of you; you're probably conceited.

Why should you care?

Firstly, no one will ever give you any recognition, when you deserve it. Why should they bother-- you'll take care of that yourself. Uh, people don't like you! Trust me, they don't. Conceited persons are more often ostracized by people, and even groups of people, because no one wants to hear your crap all day long. Other conceited persons will be the first to give you the boot, unless they enjoy trying to brag over you. Most times, no, they want the spotlight all of the time, with no "interference".

This can be particularly fatal in a romantic relationship. If you're in a relationship, or any deep friendship for that matter, that person should be viewed as an equal. Of course that doesn't mean that you feel the possess all of the strengths that you do, but as a whole, they are just as "good" as you are. That's why you care for them!!!

Back to the "Empty Cup"

Using myself as an example (no, that's not conceited behavior. It's easier to speak from experience!).

If I feel that I look absolutely perfect, play my guitar SO well, I'm more well versed than any other carpenter- trainer- guitar teacher- writer (sure, I'll throw that in)- then where do I go from there. In speaking of passions, we are passionate about the things that we love; we wish to excel at those things. If you're too busy loving yourself, there can be little room for improvement-- there is little motivation to get better, as you believe you're at the pinnacle.

Using a friend, and former guitar teacher as an example (only due to the distance that separates us!!!):

The man is a very talented musician! When I say very, that does not do him the justice he's earned. Some people act this way, but he's genuine-- he actually believes that he's NOT that talented. It's embedded in his heart. This is how he continues to progress, seek new avenues, improve his technique, musicality, teaching skills, and explore in a more innovative fashion. His cup is empty, and that suits him fine. He will improve 'til the time that he draws his last breath!

Don't be a dick. Empty your cup, and strive to be better at SOMETHING every day!

Now, you've earned the right to self esteem. Use it wisely, Grasshopper!!!


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    • joecseko profile image

      Joe Cseko jr 7 years ago from New York, USA, Earth

      Thank you, Izetti. You know that I have tremendous respect for your writing prowess. Your comments are a welcomed embellishment to this hub. Those of you that remotely enjoy my take on this article need to look at Izetti's work. It's nothing short of brilliant. I mean that in the deepest sense of the word!

      Thank you, too, MartieCoester. I've not read any of your work yet, but I'll certainly catch up.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      This sentence of yours deserves applause: “My pride in my accomplishments fuels my desire and my humble self- the more objective self - fuels my aspiration.”

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      self-esteem is a tough topic to tackle. I admire you for doing it and doing it well, but don't let that get to your head- haha.

      I've always been confident throughout my life because i believe in humility and being comfortable with myself. I'll use a psychology study I learned about long time ago- don't ask me too many speifics but I remember the general idea. Men were shown two videos of beautiful women, but in one video a beautiful woman trips a little while walking. Well ,it turns out the beautiful woman who makes a mistake or has some imperfection is rated more beautiful than a woman with NO flaws. This proves it's ok to have some quirks and makes some mistakes.

    • profile image

      Lou 7 years ago

      very thought provoking. Insightful and a keen perspective on the human psyche."He will improve 'til the time that that he draws his last breath!"is my creed.When I climb a mountain I don't look down and relish, I look up and hope.Once again Joe shows the depth of his cerebral energy.

    • profile image

      barbara carlo 7 years ago

      blew me away...very impressed.....shocking...didnt expect to agree!!!! very well written..informative...great job chump!