192 - Self-Esteem Boost

Forget participation trophies! This week we're talking about self-esteem. We all have our highs and lows, but did you know that having greater self-esteem is associated with better health and a better social life? We'll talk about the easiest ways to get a lasting self-esteem boost, whether it's possible to have self-esteem that's too high, and how to access self-esteem and self-love even when it's hard. 

If you want to support our show, the best way is to become one of our patrons at www.patreon.com/multiamory. In addition to helping us continue to create new content and new projects, you also get extra rewards and exclusive content and discussions.

You can order Dedeker's book, The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love by going to http://amzn.to/2cGBDoC

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Multiamory was created by Dedeker Winston, Jase Lindgren, and Emily Matlack.

Our theme music is Forms I Know I Did by Josh and Anand.

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This document may contain small transcription errors. If you find one please let us know at info@multiamory.com and we will fix it ASAP.

Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast we're talking about self-esteem.

Emily: You mean that participation trophy bullshit?

Dedeker: Heck no.

Jase: Heck no.

Emily: So what are we talking about then?

Jase: We're talking about self-esteem in how it actually can be helpful in your life and isn't just rewarding you for showing up. [laughs]

Dedeker: Right. Which is very different from, I think, the self-esteem that we were fed as millennial kids of the '90s.

Emily: I wonder if that's changing now. I think people realize that just telling your kid constantly, "You're the best thing that's ever happened on this planet." Is maybe not the best thing ever and setting themselves up for expectations that are not going to be met.

Jase: Yes, there has been some change in the way that the school systems at least are employing self-esteem education-

Dedeker: Really?

Jase: -because research has shown just trying to boost self-esteem, period, just giving people rewards for showing up and anything is actually not effective, has not been linked to better achievement, has not been linked to better grades, none of that. It has started changing where it's now like, "Oh, whoops, we maybe missed that one a little bit." I was actually reading an interesting article about it talking about that it isn't that self-esteem itself is not important, but it's that some research was done on it and the school system and parenting advice was like, "We're just going to run with this before the research had time to catch up with actually how are the best ways to teach self-esteem."

Dedeker: Interesting.

Jase: How do you teach healthy self-esteem? It's not so simple as just say-

Dedeker: Just artificially inflating someone's self-esteem.

Jase: -giving for everything and not making any difference between the feedback you get for when you do something well versus when you don't. Anyway, just that it got ahead of actual research about how to do it.

Dedeker: Interesting.

Emily: Why are we talking about this today? Well, I think it's interesting because I just got back from my best friend's baby shower, a friend that was very close to me all through high school and college and we've still remained close to this day, about 15 year friendship, but she is having a baby. I went to her baby shower.

Dedeker: I hope she's not throwing baby shower when she's not having a baby. [laughs]

Emily: No. She is having a baby and therefore a baby shower, but also she just finished her residency and got her dream job as a doctor and is married, has a home, all of these kind of milestone things that people look at and they're like, "Oh, okay, this means that this person is uber successful." Like you can measure their success in a variety of ways. It's difficult, I think, to not compare yourself to that and be like, "Well, I don't own a home, I'm not having baby. I'm not married." Things like that.

Dedeker: The normal hallmarks of what we've been told as success.

Emily: Yes, which we've obviously talked about a lot on this show and the relationship escalator and stuff like that, but I think that there is that idea that if you're not successful, then therefore you're not worthy or you might have lower self-esteem. There's definitely been times where I'm like, "Wow, I'm an unsuccessful person or I'm worthless in a way, just because I'm not where some of my other friends are in the lives." Have there been moments like that in both of your lives?

Dedeker: Oh my goodness. The whole comparison train fueled by social media especially is just really a bear. I've definitely had interesting times recent particularly since publishing my book actually where I have a couple of other friends who are authors and it's this weird mix of if they have a particular success-- I don't know, I'm blanking on what's--

Jase: Getting to certain charts on Amazon.

Dedeker: Getting to certain charts or getting an interview in a particular medium or even honestly getting their audiobook produced-

Emily: Before yours.

Jase: [laughs]

Dedeker: -earlier than mine. Where it would be a mix of feeling really happy for them, I guess maybe even compersive for them. One might say like, "Feeling really happy for them, because I can relate to wanting that kind of success." Then also feeling jealous and envious, being like, "Oh, I wish I had that. I wish I could get that." Then the third part of it being a self-worth thing of like, "Uh, I'm a terrible author. I'm not worthy of this. I haven't gotten this, because I must be bad or no one cares about the stuff that I do," or yadda yadda yadda. For me, I've recently tried to take out that self-worth bit and acknowledge, I can feel the jealousy, I can feel the compersion, that's totally fine to feel those two things together, but if I can try to not let it dictate a story about me, that'll probably be better for me, but that's my ongoing journey and challenge right now. What about you, Jase?

Jase: I think, for me-- we'll get into this a little bit more in a bit, but one of the troubles with having lower self-esteem is having a hard time handling criticism, just hitting you a lot harder and having meaning about your self-worth, kind of like you were talking about that it's not just a criticism of a specific thing, it's more like, "Oh, this is about me as a person," and I know that that's something -- and it varies from time to time and later on we're going to talk about some of the tools and ways you can keep yourself on the higher side of self-esteem, but for me there's definitely times where getting some sort of criticism either about my work doing visual effects or about this podcast or about something I've written, is really crushing versus other times where it's like, "Dang, I still don't love it, but it's not quite so--"

Emily: Personal.

Jase: Yes, it doesn't quite send me so much into the, "What am I doing? I should just quit."

Dedeker: It doesn't quite define you as much?

Jase: Right, yes.

Emily: Interesting.

Jase: I definitely noticed those extremes show up in my life.

Dedeker: Got it.

Emily: Can we talk about some terms?

Jase: Yes, do you want to start us off with the one?

Emily: Yes, what we're talking about right now is self-esteem, this is defined as the positive or negative evaluation of the self so it can be specific like, "I'm a good communicator and I am proud of that." Or it can be general, "I'm a bad person and nobody likes me." It's usually described as a trait which is relatively consistent throughout life, but it is possible to change. I think I'm a nice person and people tend to like me kind of thing.

Jase: Well, this was interesting within psychological research. Calling something a trait that in itself is like the debate with the attachment styles, is it a trait or is it something else, because if it's a trait, that means it's more inherent in you and you are just one thing and that's what you are your whole life. Self-esteem is generally referred to as a trait where it tends to get set kind of earlier in life like attachment styles and you tend to be consistently there you. However, it is possible to change it and to affect the way that you fluctuate up and down around that range so it's not something you're totally stuck with, but I thought that term was interesting. I didn't realize trait was so specific in psychological literature.

Dedeker: Yes. That's in contrast to self-worth, sometimes those two terms are used interchangeably, but self-worth is sometimes used to describe the more general aspect of self-esteem, as in about your value as a person, just what your value is on this earth, in this life, rather than tied to specific skills like, "I'm good at communication or I'm good at this or I'm bad at that," or whatever.

Emily: Interesting. No, for sure.

Jase: Then we also wanted to make a comparison and a contrast to confidence-

Dedeker: Or self-confidence.

Jase: -or self-confidence, yes. It's obviously related to self-esteem, but it's not quite the same. Confidence is about your belief in your ability to do something, it's a little bit different than just what you think of yourself as a person or what you think of your skill level. Confidence is interesting, because it's something like a lot of these things that you actually want to have a balance of, there's a lot of people who are like, "I just wish I was confident all the time." The way it was explained to me once was, Sure, but if you were ultimately confident all the time about everything you'd be like, "Oh, absolutely, I could go ride a bull with no training, because I'm so confident that I can do anything and then you die."

Emily: Oh my God.

Dedeker: Let me just attest as a woman who for a long time thought she was attracted to men who are confident all the time.

Emily: Slash just arrogance.

Dedeker: Attractive at first. It's attractive at first because it's really not great if you're confident all the time. You need some variation in there.

Jase: It's about finding that balance.

Emily: Yes, that makes sense.

Jase: When we were looking into self-esteem for this episode, there was a study that was sort of a review of various other studies done in 2004 that showed that a broad review of the correlates of self-esteem, that means when self-esteem is high, these other things have also been found to be high. They found that high self esteem is associated with better physical health, better social lives, better protection against mental disorders and social problems, more successful coping mechanisms and just general mental well being. That's a lot of stuff to this trait.

Emily: Absolutely.

Jase: And that's why it's something worth talking about.

Emily: Yes.

Dedeker: Yes. We were going to talk about this list of the opposite side of people with low self esteem, what traits they tend, or what characteristics they tend to exhibit. But since you just gave that list of the positive things, let's keep going on with the more positive things.

Emily: Yes. People with higher self esteem tend to have these six attributes. So the first one is, a greater sense of self worth, which we said before, it's like that broader general thing, like "I am a good person or I am worthy," or something along those lines. Also, like you said, Jase, greater enjoyment in life and in activities. And then also freedom from self doubt.

Dedeker: That's a big one.

Emily: Yes. Not constantly questioning whether or not you can do something.

Dedeker: That is another one though, where I feel like- it's like the opposite side of the coin from confidence, where I think you need some self doubt in your life. Like a little bit of self doubt.

Emily: Below humility, I guess?

Dedeker: Yes, humility and self doubt. I think that is healthy. But if you're doubting yourself all the time, and you're just paralyzed from it, then that's not good either.

Emily: No.

Dedeker: So people with higher self esteem also tended to have freedom from fear and anxiety, freedom from social anxiety, and less stress in general, more energy and motivation to act. As well as having-- I think this is kind of related to the social anxiety thing, having more enjoyable time. Interacting with other people at social gatherings. When you're feeling relaxed and confident, other people feel more at ease around you. This one is interesting, because I'm such an introvert and tend to feel really stressed or anxious in social settings, especially loud, crowded social settings. But when it's like smaller, intimate gatherings of all people that I love or I've known for a long time, then my--

Emily: Then you're super great?

Dedeker: I love it. It's super great. I think it's that same thing of like, I have a lot-- I guess lower self esteem and more self doubt when I'm around strangers than I am around people, where it's kind of like, "I know these people love me and accept me. It's okay," and so I feel more able to relax and feel confident around these people. So I guess that makes sense.

In contrast, the study also found that someone who has low self esteem may show some of these characteristics. They may heavily self criticize, and they may feel extremely sensitive to outside criticism. So, they may really easily fall into comparing themselves to others in an unfavorable fashion. Or they may feel extreme envy more frequently than maybe someone who doesn't have very low self esteem. They may feel chronic indecision, or an exaggerated fear of mistakes, or of displeasing someone else. Kind of like the self doubt thing, or maybe even being afraid to assert themselves or afraid to have boundaries in the first place, because they're afraid that it's going to be a mistake, or it's going to make someone mad at them, or things like that.

They may experience a lot of guilt. They may dwell on or exaggerate the magnitude of past mistakes. I think that past mistakes really get to people in the self worth department. Like a lot of people, even if it's something like, I'm not even going to talk about super devastating past mistakes, but maybe something like a really tough breakup, or a job decision or something like that. That people can really fixate on like, "That was such a huge mistake," and like, "I'm such a terrible person or such a stupid person for doing that." Or any kind of negative language that you're applying to yourself.

People with low self esteem may feel-- this this invidiousness, which I don't even know what that word is. Could you Google that really quick?

Jase: Yes. Let me Google that.

Dedeker: It sounds very literary, and I like it. While you're doing that, I'll keep going. May experience jealousy that's extremely difficult to shake. Like, maybe once you've talked everything out with your partner, and you've tried going to therapy, you've tried this, you've tried that. But you're still unable to shake a particular form of jealousy. It could be a sign of low self esteem. Or just some general resentment toward other people. They also tend to see temporary setbacks as permanent and intolerable conditions. I think that also from what I've seen, sometimes, if you have low self esteem or you're going through a period of low self esteem, it can be really easy to fall into a place of like, "I deserve this bad thing that happened to me. I deserve this step back. It's not going to get any better because this is just as good as it gets for me." So I think that story creeps in a lot to. What did you find out about invidiousness?

Jase: Invidious means tending to cause discontent, animosity, or envy.

Dedeker: To invid.

Jase: It can also mean envious. Is a synonym, or one of the definitions is envious.

Emily: So, they basically said, envy, envy, jealousy?

Jase: Yes. It can also be a-- Specifically, it's envious of a kind to cause harm or resentment.

Emily: All right.

Dedeker: Okay.

Jase: The real negative side of of envy and jealousy and comparison.

Dedeker: And briefly, before we move on, I just want to put out the disclaimer there that all of us as human beings experience both sides of this and go through periods of both sides of this. There's very few people out there who just have bad self esteem all the time, or "good self esteem" all the time. Like, it's very normal to go back and forth between these. It's not like there's these, "People who are doing it right and people who are doing it wrong."

Jase: Yes. Or your parents just ruined you when you were a kid and now you're stuck with low self esteem and there's nothing you can do about it. That's not the case.

Emily: Right. No, for sure.

Jase: Yes, and thankfully, there are whole fields of research into exactly this, into, "How can we change this? How can we give our ourselves better tools for dealing with these things and for increasing our self esteem and our confidence to healthy levels?" I did want to really quick just mention that- it's interesting reading about this. That one of the things a lot of the articles and the studies brought up, was people tend to associate high self esteem, like overly high self esteem with narcissism, and it's just that--

Dedeker: I'm going to get to that.

Jase: You want to get to that later?

Dedeker: Yes.

Jase: Okay. cool. We'll talk about that later.

Dedeker: We'll talk about that in a sec.


Emily: But first, I guess we should take a quick break to talk about some ways that you can support our show.

Jase: Yes. So, first of all, is if you want access to an amazing community where you can discuss some of these things that we talk about in these episodes, as well as being able to share your personal experiences in a place that is private and full of people who care and want to share and want to support you in your own journey, in your own relationships, whatever those look like. The best way to do that is to become part of our Patreon community, which you can do at patreon.com/multiamory. There you'll get access-- At the $5 level, you'll get access to our private invite only Facebook group, as well as our private discourse forum and our Discord for you gamers out there. At our $7 level, you also get ad free episodes a day early, so you don't have to listen to this part of the show.

Dedeker: You get bonus content also.

Emily: Yes.

Jase: And you get bonus content in most episodes. Most, if not all of the episodes, have some bonus content. At the $9 level, we have a monthly video discussion group that we do with Patreons at the $9 level. At the $15 level, we send you a thank you video and you become our best friend. There's lots of wonderful things and all sorts of different levels for whatever you want. So, do that at patreon.com/multiamory.

Emily: And if you have not done this already, then please go to either iTunes or Stitcher and write us a review. It really helps us show up higher in search results when people are searching for things like polyamory or relationship podcasts or something along those lines. The positive reviews make us show up higher in those search results. So, it only takes like a couple of minutes. It would really, really help us out. Tell us the things that you love about the show. Then we get to read them later on and feel really good about ourselves, which we really appreciate, but also just it will help more people like you to find our podcast. So, again, go to iTunes or Stitcher and write us a review.

Dedeker: Our sponsor for this week's episode is Audible. But this is a very special Audible ad because-- Oh my goodness.

Jase: The specialist.

Dedeker: The specialist Audible ad because my audio book for my book is finally being released today. Actually, on this very day that the episode's released, my audio book is also being released. It's so exciting. It's been a long time in the making and I've had so many people reach out to me being like, "Where's the audio book version? Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?" and I can finally tell those people, "It's here. It exists."

Jase: Here it is.

Dedeker: It is here. So, here's a double whammy. If you go to audibletrial.com/multiamory, here's what you're going to get. You're going to get a 30-day free trial to Audible that's going to include a free audio book. If you want to use it on my book, that's great.

Jase: Obviously, they're going to.

Emily: Do it.

Dedeker: You can get my book for free. That's what I would recommend. Listen to it. It'll be great and you'll get this free trial of Audible. You get the free audio book that you get to keep even if you don't continue the trial and they'll also give us a little bit of a good kickback. Again, even if you just did the trial.

Jase: Basically, you're getting an audio book for free. right there.

Dedeker: Exactly.

Jase: That's--

Dedeker: Exactly.

Jase: What else do you need?

Dedeker: The easiest way for you to get my audiobook for free. Again, go to audibletrial.com/multiamory. Sign up for the trial, use your credit for my audio book. It's a double whammy of making us all feel good. Me, especially, feel good, because I'm so excited to be sharing this audiobook with people finally. That's it.

Jase: All right, back to it. Something fun that I found in doing some research about specifically polyamory and self-esteem is that in one particular study from 2003, this was part of a doctoral dissertation that I was reading, super entertaining, fast reading. [laughs] They found that of the respondents, over 70% reported that engaging in polyamory had increased their self-esteem and their love for their partner that they were with before getting into this. I think this was about people who had opened up a relationship. While upwards of 90% contended that polyamory had contributed to their gaining a better perspective on themselves and on their partners.

Emily: That's really interesting.

Jase: It's interesting, it's only this one study. It wasn't a huge study, so this is definitely an area that I think would be interesting to see more research and I hope that we end up getting some more research specifically on this. It’s actually 74%, if I remember it right from reading it.

Dedeker: That's a lot.

Jase: 74% said that engaging in polyamory increased their self-esteem. I think that's pretty remarkable.

Emily: Why do you think it would do that? Are there some good reasons as to why polyamory would increase someone's self-esteem?

Dedeker: Well, I don't know. I think maybe you can look at more surface level reasons of just more people think I'm sexy or-

Emily: Sure.

Dedeker: -I'm going on dates with people and it feels great. I think there's that. I think, on a deeper level, at least where I tend to come from-- Also, especially I've noticed this when working with clients that when someone's really struggling with something, whether they're struggling with jealousy, or struggling with kind of accepting or struggling to find a partner, once they get to the other side of their struggle, that's a huge self-esteem boost.

Definitely a huge self-efficacy boost of knowing like, "I can do this, I can do something uncomfortable, I can do something that's coloring outside the lines, that goes against the grain, that's maybe a little weird or a little scary, but I can do it." That really, I find, leaves a lasting effect on people. Even on people who end up closing up their relationship later on. They still feel like, "Wow, I did that. I went out on a limb, I tried it, I went outside my comfort zone. That feels really good." That's, again, my armchair psychology hypothesis about that.

Emily: I feel like, Jase, when you and I were opening up our relationship, and when it was really great with Dedeker and things were just awesome. I felt like everything was flourishing. I feel like it also really added to our home life at the time and that it made it better in a lot of ways. It bred a more intimate thing than we had ever had before and just more communication and stuff we had talked about that I remember at the time. I think that being able to see your partner be attractive to someone else and then getting to talk about it and getting to experience that intimacy from a different standpoint can bring two people closer.

Dedeker: That's interesting.

Emily: Maybe make you have more self-advocacy or something.

Jase: I feel like it's also maybe a little bit you're sort of forced. Essentially, by doing polyamory, if you're coming from a more traditional monogamous mindset, you're basically saying, "I'm going to willingly have the worst possible thing in my life happen." Which is my partner sleeping with other people, right? Then you find out that you lived through it.

Like Dedeker said, even if you eventually end up deciding not to continue having polyamorous relationships, you're like, "That happened and I didn't die. My life wasn't over and I wasn't rejected by everyone." It's by experiencing like, "Oh, that thing I kept thinking, oh gosh, if this happens, my life is over, happened and my life wasn't over." I think there could be some value to that too.

Emily: That's very cool.

Dedeker: I want to at least give some airtime to talking about the fact that self-esteem and having good self-esteem or high self-esteem, it's hard a lot of the time. It’s really hard. Especially the self-love movement, ironically, both love and hate in equal measure. I love it because I do think self-love is so important and so great but then also hate it because the pressure that we put on ourselves to feel self-love can really backfire and leave us really not loving ourselves so much.

There's this psychologist Albert Ellis, who is actually really critical of the self-esteem movement. It's not just him, there's a number of other people who are critical of it. He specifically argues that relying too heavily on just raising self-esteem, it can create this, what he calls, a boom or bust effect. As in only feeling the boom when you're receiving compliments or positive feedback, and then feeling the bust or feeling down when that's absent or when you're receiving criticism or things like that. He specifically argues that instead of going for high self-esteem, going for self acceptance, specifically unconditional self acceptance. I actually really like that. I don't think that self acceptance and self esteem are necessarily-

Emily: Mutually exclusive.

Dedeker: Yes, I don't think they're mutually exclusive. Specifically, this idea of unconditional self-acceptance, it means accepting yourself unconditionally. Acknowledging that there's going to be both virtues and faults in yourself. Yet, even in spite of that, continuing to be okay with it. Actually, the official definition that he gives of unconditional self-acceptance had a lot more of the word love in it. It was a lot more of, "In spite of everything, you can still love yourself or you can love both your faults and your virtues."

Again, I wanted to take out that even though I like the sentiment, just to remove that pressure, because feeling self love is hard. We say this a lot in this show. Sometimes it is okay to aim for neutral. If the best you can get at any day is acceptance like, "Okay, I can accept that I feel like a slob right now. I can accept that I feel like a failure right now." But I still accept myself. I think that's really important. Even if you're having a hard time feeling like you can actually love yourself in a particular moment.

Emily: That's fascinating.

Jase: I feel like it's related to what I was teasing earlier about confidence too, about finding a balance. That it's not just about more is always better. I was actually having a conversation with a counsellor recently about anxiety, about worry essentially. Something that she said to me that I was like, "Yes, that makes a lot of sense." She's like, "The goal isn't to get rid of anxiety. It's not to get rid of worry. It's to find a balance." Because if you didn't have any of that you're going to be oblivious to dangers or potential pitfalls around you.

You're going to be blind to those, kind of like having too much confidence. You're going to walk off a cliff thinking like, "Oh, I'll be fine. I'm confident that I can land on the ground and not hurt myself." That it's just about finding that balance. For me, at least, that was really valuable to make the shift from the fact that I have these feelings is just bad to being like, "No, this is okay. I just need to find a way to balance this better." For me, that was really valuable. I think it's a little bit similar to this idea of aiming for neutral. Trying to find a balance that works, that's healthy for you.

Emily: Can too much self-esteem lead to things like narcissism and inflated ego? This is a tough one because probably in some people, yes, maybe.

Dedeker: I think baby boomers definitely make the argument that millennials are all narcissistic. They're entitled because of the self esteem movement and all their dang participation trophies.

Emily: Yes, exactly. We did an entire episode on this. Episode 148 was all about narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. Often narcissistic tendencies can just be fueled by things like uncertainty about one's own self worth. That can lead to things like a puffed up self-protective shield of superiority. It's like just bluffing.

Jase: Like posturing.

Emily: Exactly, in order to hide things like your own insecurity or your own low self esteem. It can often really fluctuate in response to things like social praise or rejection. Obviously, someone can at least appear to the world to be really narcissistic or really full of oneself or have an inflated ego, but probably on the inside, a lot of other things are churning. It's actually just a protective shield for them.

Dedeker: Probably not an actual genuine sense of high self-esteem or high self worth.

Emily: Exactly.

Jase: I think that's the common misconception. It's like if someone thinks too highly of their self, they're a narcissist. It's like, no, that's actually usually a defence, it's actually not thinking very highly of yourself.

Emily: Absolutely, and it is that balance still. It makes me think of our acting teacher, Jase, in his class when he used to talk about the-- It was a quiet sense of arrogance or what was it?

Jase: A peculiar kind of arrogance.

Emily: Yes, exactly. Again, it's not an overinflated arrogance by any means. Like, when you walk into a room for an audition, for example, but it's just having a sense of knowing who you are and that everything-- I don't need you to tell me that I'm okay. I know that I'm good without you kind of thing.

Dedeker: Like having poise rather than like posturing.

Emily: Yes, I think so to a degree. It is that really fine line, razor's edge there.

Dedeker: Yes, definitely.

Jase: I think it's interesting too that it is a very inside-out kind of thing. It's from the inside and it's not so simple to just look at someone else and know whether they have high or low self esteem. In the same way that I don't think it's fair to assume that other people can tell you if your self esteem is high or low.

Dedeker: It’s true.

Jase: That it could be-- maybe you actually are working on getting a higher self esteem and that's a really good and healthy thing and someone else with a very low self esteem might see that and because of that -- was it invidiousness? Envy and jealousy and wanting to tear someone down. That vindictiveness out of envy will tell you like, "You're being a narcissist or you're being arrogant," or something that.

Emily: Sure.

Jase: That could very easily tear you down if you're thinking that other people get to tell you what your self esteem is.

Emily: And how much you're worth or not.

Jase: Yes, or how much you think you're worth. Kind of like we talked about no one else can tell you whether you're happy or not. They might be able to say, "I've noticed these specific things," but someone else can look at you and go, "You say you're happy doing this type of relationship but I know you're not."

Emily: I've been there with people telling me that.

Jase: How do we do it? How do we build higher self esteem?

Dedeker: Can we build it?

Jase: Yes, we can.

Emily: And it will come.



Jase: We have come up here with our seven habits of highly effective self-esteem people.

Emily: I like that because Dedeker had a part of that. It was like seven habits of highly effective Polly people.

Now it's self esteem.

Jase: The first one here is to stand or sit in a posture of confidence.

Dedeker: Okay, I'm going to switch my posture here.

Jase: There's actually a really cool TED talk about this that I recommend checking out. What's her name? Do you remember? Lisa Cuddy I think something like that.

Emily: That sounds right.

Jase: She does this really cool TED talk about the research on this. Here's the basics of how it goes. The posture of confidence can look a few different ways. The easiest is the Wonder Woman or Superman pose. You're standing, your legs are a little bit apart, your chest is out, shoulders are back, your hands on your hips, you're very open. Another one is the Olympic medalist pose. Your arms, like in a V, up above your head.

Dedeker: The victory pose.

Jase: The Victory Pose. This one's really cool because they found that even people who were born blind will do this pose when they win something. If they win a race without ever having seen another person do it, there is something natural to the victory of putting your arms over your head. Opening your body up.

Dedeker: The dog loves this victory pose.

Jase: [laughs]

Dedeker: Even the dog is responding to the victory pose.

Jase: Sitting versions of this involve-- Again, think about more opening up your chest area. It's like sitting maybe with your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the side like CEO-

Dedeker: Leaning back.

Jase: -leaning back.

Dedeker: Kicking your feet up.

Emily: Exactly.

Jase: Exactly, that sort of a look. If you think about this, this is directly in contrast to the way most of us are all the time which is closed and hunched over our phone or a computer. What they found is that taking one of these poses just for like a minute, literally 60 seconds, right away affects your levels of cortisol and of testosterone because those work against each other. Having slightly higher testosterone will help lower your cortisol. Which is that really unhealthy stress hormone when you have too much of it too often. That having that small, shrunken posture will increase your cortisol actually.

Dedeker: I actually did this in the middle of a fight with a partner once. I think it was his recommendation because he knew about the whole Victory Pose thing so we stopped and did the Victory Pose, I think just for a minute. It helped because in the middle of very high tension, because it feels a little silly if you're both just standing there doing the Victory Pose, so it helped to break the tension a little bit.

Emily: Next time you two get in a thing I'm going to be like, "No, the Victory Pose."


Dedeker: That’s great, we should try that. A victory pose, no talking. No fighting while you're in victory pose. Actually it really did help.

Jase: Interesting, that's great.

Dedeker: Something to consider.

Jase: I think it's also worth thinking about your posture, just in general, too. If through your work day-- Now there's devices out there for helping to remind you of your posture, stuff like that. It's worth looking into. Because I think it does actually make a pretty big difference.

Dedeker: You can even- if you can't afford a device or something, you can even just get some pillows and jury rig, putting it behind your back so that you're not slumped into your office chair, but that it's forcing you to be upright. That's the trick if you're doing sitting meditation or something. Those are the ways that you can trick your body.

Jase: Or even setting a reminder through the day. If you work with coworkers make it a buddy system, where it's like, "If I notice you slouching, I’ll mention it and you'll do the same for me."

Emily: That’s great.

Jase: All right, number two, is to build your capacity for energy.

Dedeker: What does that mean?

Jase: Well, so this is something that Emily and I-- Again, that acting teacher that she was talking about, something that he would say is, instead of saying I'm nervous, say I'm excited.

Emily: Because it's like the same response in your body. It's the butterflies in the pit of the stomach feeling, that happens whether or not you're nervous or you're excited. It's really just about the way in which you frame it in your own mind. I do this all the time when I'm about to perform and it's great. If I'm about to go up for an opening night or something, then I'll just be like, "Okay, I can feel these things happening," but it's just me being excited. That's fine.

Dedeker: That's funny because I used to when I was auditioning more frequently. I used to try to be like-- if I was nervous about an audition, I'd try to reframe it as, "No, no, no, this isn't audition. This is opening night." That kind of feeling, like little bit of nervous but mostly excitement. Try to think of it that way rather than just purely nervousness.

Emily: That's cool.

Dedeker: That's interesting.

Jase: For those of you listening out there being like, "You guys talk about acting all the time. How's that relevant to my normal life." It's funny, you might not quite get it if you haven't done it but being an actor and going on auditions and things like that is I think one of the probably worst things you can do to your self esteem or most challenging things you can do to it. You have to find ways to cope with it because you're essentially every day just being, "Am I good enough?" and you're getting told no most of the time. It is a really--

Dedeker: It's boot camp.

Jase: I think we've all definitely learned a lot from that even if Emily's the only one still pursuing that. She's the only one with enough resilience to continue.

Emily: That never bothered me as much as other things like people maybe not commenting on my smarts as much like definitely bothered me way more than being told no.

Dedeker: Well, that's a whole Los Angeles entertainment industry kind of thing.

Emily: Of course.

Dedeker: That’s a whole other episode, which is not this episode.


Emily: That's fine, so what else?

Jase: Number three, and this one's a double one actually. This is your physical health. That means to exercise regularly and also to sleep enough. I want to talk about sleeping enough real quickly because I think exercising regularly everyone's like "Yes, I know I should do that." Really, you should. Do it, it does help your body.

Dedeker: To clarify, it's not like definitely the thought pattern that I've fallen into sometimes when I'm like, "I have low self confidence or like self esteem about my body. Okay, let me just exercise so I can get a six pack and then I'll have high confidence again." You're talking about more like, "No, just get up and move to keep yourself healthy," not focused on trying to fix your body or something like that.

Jase: Do something to make yourself sweat from exertion as often as you can. Emily and I have a doctor who tells us every single day for 20 minutes-

Dedeker: My doctor too.

Jase: We all have the same doctor.

Jase: 20 minutes every single day of some exercise that makes you sweat. You could be doing some quick yoga. It could be going for a jog. It could look lots of different ways, not just sitting in a sauna and sweating but exercising and getting yourself to sweat.

Emily: Getting your heart rate up.

Jase: There's a lots of other options as well but those actually do help balance out your hormones and things like that. They help you use some of that cortisol. That again, that stress hormone is really damaging to us when we have it in our bodies all the time and we're not getting rid of it. Bu cortisol is what you use for running away from a dinosaur or something, right?

Emily: I don’t think humans and dinosaurs ever existed together but sure.

Dedeker: I'm not going to be too legalistic about this.

Jase: Trying to be accessible to the creationists out there listening.

Dedeker: Oh my goodness.

Jase: [laughs]

Dedeker: I can’t believe you just said that.

Jase: So, like running away from a monster. Running away from something scary.

Emily: In a parralel universe.

Dedeker: Just running away from something that’s trying to get you.

Jase: Exercising, you're actually like flushing some of those things out. You're using that physical energy that otherwise just stays inside and turns into ulcers and things like that. I want to talk about sleeping enough. This one is huge. It's huge for me personally, and I also know it's huge for a lot of people. Pretty much everyone, when they hear about this, they plug their ears and they go, "La, la, la, I can't hear you. I'm more productive when I'm not sleeping as much. Productive, successful people don't sleep that much. I have to not sleep that much. I have too much to do. I can't sleep."

Whatever it is, it's just not true. There's so much research showing that getting enough sleep which means, by the way, eight and a half hours. It's not even the seven that people will be like, "Seven is plenty." It's eight and a half. That's what you should be getting. I find that for me, my self-esteem, this I think almost more than anything else will affect my self-esteem, my resilience to criticism, my ability to stay motivated, to stay focused.

Emily: I cry way more when I'm tired.

Jase: Absolutely, no question. It's getting enough sleep. It's hard to do and I'm not always great about it but just knowing that has been really helpful for me. Because it almost takes some of the pressure off when I'm like, "Gosh, why am I feeling this way? What's wrong with me?" I'm like, "Right, I haven't been sleeping enough." Even if that's hard to catch back up on I at least know that's my goal. That's what I need to figure out how to do.

Emily: That's good.

Jase: Anyway, there's my soapbox about sleeping.

Dedeker: Great.

Emily: I like.

Jase: [laughs]

Emily: This next one is to visualize and imagine the confidence that you're going to be propelling into the world. I really like this one because it's something that athletes do. My favorite boy Yuzuru Hanyu. He was injured last year, right before the Olympics. Basically for two, almost three months, he couldn't be on the ice. He visualized himself doing all of his jumps perfectly. Having this gorgeous, perfect program. When he finally could get back on the ice, like three weeks to go before the Olympics, he was that much further along in being able to actually do it. He won again. That was his second time. This is why I love him.

Dedeker: His 200th world record or something.

Emily: Anyways, he won and he did it. With this, it’s essentially like firmly be connected with the sensation of relaxation. Stand there, close your eyes, just be relaxed. Then in your mind's eye, see yourself doing something that you want more confidence in, for example. That can be speaking in front of a room full of people or being on a podcast and being better or whatever.

Dedeker: Meeting your meta more.

Emily: There you go, that's a good one, so stuff like that. This is one of those fake it till you make it things sometimes, but it is a good way of just training your mind and your body that like, "Hey, I am good at this thing. All of this stuff that I have anxiety over, I actually am instead really great at it and I have confidence about it." It is a good fake it till you make it thing.

Dedeker: Definitely.

Emily: The next one is give yourself permission to be in the process to take risks and make mistakes. Obviously, throughout all of this, nobody's going to be perfect at their levels of self-confidence, at their goals and actually making their goals happen in life. When I look at this, when I think about us in Multiamory because it has been a long road of four years. We really, initially at least, were not necessarily super confident about what we were doing. We were just like, "We're going to try this and go for it." Then I think slowly building that confidence over the past four years has kept it going and kept it being this thing that we actually really believe in.

Dedeker: Still got a long way to go.

Emily: Sure, I hear you. Jase sometimes also is like, "Everyone hates us," kind of thing. Honestly, I think it is a testament to the fact that we have kept a certain sense of confidence about what we're doing just that it has this longevity to it.

Jase: I think that thing about being allowed to make mistakes is really valuable and that's when I know I personally struggle with a lot.

Emily: Sure.

Jase: Feeling like if I ever make a mistake-

Emily: I'm a bad person.

Jase: -it’s like I shouldn't be here talking to anyone or be in the world at all. I should just be written off and kicked out of society or something like that, right? I think that one's big, for me, at least. Is that being allowed to make mistakes doesn't mean you're a failure. It just means you're learning from those and that's part of the process.

Dedeker: The next one is to speak kindly to yourself. That means not just seeking praise, or any kind of verbal validation only from other people. It is okay to seek that. I think it is okay to ask for that but make sure that you're setting yourself up so that you're not relying on that to be the only basis for your self esteem. It's important to also praise yourself as well. This is such a big thing for me that I didn't even realize how unkindly I spoke to myself, until I started meditating, actually. Honestly, I think this is why a lot of people avoid a meditation practice for many other reasons.

That it's really scary to see what's on the inside and to hear what's on the inside sometimes. To just really get a straight up sense of like, "Whoa, I am so mean to myself, sometimes. I have such really dark beliefs about myself." It's really important to just make space to be aware of that. Of course, I'm always going to be an advocate for meditation. It’s going to really open up a lot of things for you, as far as awareness of what your thoughts are doing. It doesn't have to be meditation necessarily. There's a great metaphor in a book that I read about, if you had a roommate who said the things to you that you say to you, what would you do with that roommate?

Emily: Kick them out.

Dedeker: Would you be happy? Would you kick them out? Would you get up in their face? Would you feel sad? Just to put it in perspective that your relationship with yourself is as important to cultivate as your relationship with anyone else who's around you. I think it's especially important to just find a way to become aware of something that Jase taught me about recently, which are ANTs, automatic negative thoughts.

Jase: This isn't my own, I forget the name of the-- There's a psychologist who coined this term.

Dedeker: I think that's the important part is that it's like knee-jerk negative thoughts that come up in response to something happening. Once you can start to get a beat on those and start to change and at least become aware and start to reframe those, it's really going to change a lot about how you feel about yourself and your self-esteem as well.

The last thing, something that's really important is to be okay to ask for help and also to offer your help to others. I'm so terrible at asking for help. I really am. Because I was raised in Western culture and also, particularly in my family of origin, self-reliance and independence was the gold standard. Being able to do things on your own and not ask for help was really highly praised.

Emily: Be a strong, independent woman.

Dedeker: Exactly, so there's a part of that in me that I do feel proud of. That I feel glad that I'm so self reliant and independent but then at the other hand, it means I have really hard time being vulnerable and asking for help. That means not being afraid of collaboration. Because collaboration means that sometimes you can reach results that wouldn't be possible when you're by yourself. In a recent review of contemporary literature, Stephen Post who is the head of the Case Western Reserve University Medical School, the school with the longest name ever, oh my God.


Stephen Post found that there was a connection between giving altruism and happiness. That's the thing. Is that when we play a positive role in our families, in our friendships, our communities, our relationships, we do feel good about ourselves. We feel that we are fulfilling a greater purpose or a more meaningful purpose in our lives. Definitely, asking for help, being reminded of your support network of the people around you, who love you, and also being willing and energetic to offer your help to others, can really help to create a really good, positive feedback loop that can help with their self-esteem and self-worth.

Emily: Awesome.

Jase: I feel like this is even something that, Dedeker, you've talked about on this show in the past. About when you're feeling down-

Dedeker: The play it forward thing.

Jase: -take a moment and think who in my life could I just randomly say something nice to or do something nice for. I think it's definitely connected to that.

Emily: It takes all of the maybe self-hate off of yourself and puts some love on to someone else.

Dedeker: It's really transformative.

Emily: Yes, It gets you out of your own way, I guess.

Dedeker: Right.

Emily: Yes. Awesome, this has been really good and something I definitely struggle with a lot and it's really good to get some great tools. We do have a call to action for our listeners. Have any of you dealt with self-esteem issues in the past and what great tools do you have to help you gain more self-esteem over the years or during the times when you've had difficulty with it?

Jace: We'd also love to hear what your experience is using these tools.

Emily: Absolutely, yes. If you've used any of them, and then if you listened to this episode, and start employing them, then what did you find? What happened? How did they work? The best place to share your thoughts with other listeners is on this episode's discussion thread in our private Facebook or discourse forums. You can get access to these groups, and join our exclusive community, by going to patreon.com/multiamory. In addition, you can share with us publicly on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can email us at info@multiamory.com, leave us a voicemail at 678 multi 05, or you can leave us a voice message on Facebook.