The Internet is awash with people talking about self-esteem, or rather, the lack of it. Do you suffer from low self-esteem? the advertorials blare. The question implies we all know what it is, but do we, really?

Take a look at the self-esteem doctors and the self-proclaimed ‘institutes’ for raising self-esteem. One and all they assume that gaining self-esteem involves you, your ‘I’, learning to have confidence in the abilities of other parts of your personality. But this idea of a split within ourselves is an artificial construction. In fact, the real source of low self-esteem is often a subjective feeling, an inner insecurity that comes from conflicts and inconsistencies, which arise from the conditioning we acquired in early life.

Let’s put this in simpler terms: inner insecurity creates what is generally understood as lack of self-esteem. It arises from psychic conflicts and contradictions. People who appear to radiate great self-confidence may have few conflicts within. The same effect can be seen in people who lack sensitivity or have an oversized ego.

It follows that techniques or exercises that promise greater self-confidence can have only limited success, if any.

Real self-esteem is always a reflection of inner unity. Achieving this unity, therefore, should be our primary goal.

The ‘healing’ of inner conflicts and the ultimate unification of the various parts of the mind can be achieved through the process of Conscious Realization, which I describe in my book ‘The Self Beyond Myself’ and aim to give a taste of in my weekend workshops. I have worked with many techniques both alternative and mainstream, from Atemtechniken to Zen Buddhism, but this is the only way I have found to help others to really understand where their feelings of low self-worth come from and how to dispel them.

– Dirk de Sousa


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