Self Esteem and Kindness

I received a phone call from a man last night who was checking on another person I’d said I would stop and see. After I told him what he wanted to know, he commented to me about my kindnesses toward another woman we both know. I often provide transportation for her to get to a meeting. I felt really uneasy as he poured on his praise. “Self-esteem” is one of the catch phrases I often hear from this man and I think he was trying to build mine. I didn’t need it. I give this woman a ride each week because I have a car and she does not and we are both going to the same place. For me it is a no-brainer. I didn’t need his pat on the back.

However, there was a time I might have needed to be noticed for doing something kind. And perhaps that need was about a low self-esteem, I don’t know. In my parenting classes this idea of building self-esteem in children often came up. What we discovered is that in trying to build a sense of esteem in a child, parents were inadvertently creating co-dependent children. That is, kids who depend on being noticed or praised for whatever it is that they do.

Love of self is something deeper than acknowledging that I do nice things for people. The woman I pick up on my way to a meeting has a self to love even if she cannot provide her own transportation. One is worthy to be loved just because one is. If one has the opportunity to help another, that is just how things are supposed to be. It is just two people doing the next thing on their list and that next thing happens to bring them together. It is the way things are supposed to be.