Imagine someone with low self-esteem walking barefoot along a gravel path, being careful where he puts his feet, so he does not bruise them on the small and sometimes sharp rocks that form the path. Increasing self-esteem is equivalent to putting on a pair of shoes, and the more self-esteem one develops, the better the padding separating his feet from his rocky path. The same person walking on the same path after self-esteem is increased walks with more confidence because he now has a pair of sturdy shoes or hiking boots between his feet and the gravel. It’s a lot easier to move toward your destination when each step does not require caution.
It is important to think well of yourself.
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Low self-esteem has a negative impact on your life experience all day, every day. People usually treat others with low self-esteem worse than they treat equally situated individuals who have healthier self-esteem.
de Araujo and Lagos looked at wages and found that “similar individuals receive quite different earnings: a person’s age, years of schooling, years of labor market experience, parents’ level of schooling, occupation, and income tell us surprisingly little about the individual’ earnings. In standard earnings equations for individuals of the same race and sex in the United States, between two-thirds and four-fifths of the variance of earnings is unexplained” (de Araujo and Lagos 120).
In real dollars, that difference translates into the difference between an annual income of $50,000 vs. $90,000 for an equally qualified person. I saw the magic of self-esteem work in my own life as my income increased as my self-esteem improved. The change in self-esteem preceded the increases in income—they were not dependent on the increased income. The increased income was/is dependent on the higher sense of self-worth. The most significant self-esteem shift I made resulted in a 64% salary increase over the next year. If you think you’re underpaid for your contributions stop blaming others for your level of pay. That gives all your power to change it away to others. No one is going to care more than you do about your income. Increase your self-esteem and watch what happens.
If you don’t know how to increase your self-esteem, the best book I’ve written on the subject is the one designed to teach parents and teachers to do it so they know what they need to know to help the children in their lives.
Author’s Note: This article is an excerpt from my upcoming book: Empowered Employees are Engaged Employees
de Araujo, P., & Lagos, S. (2013). Self-esteem, education, and wages revisited. Journal of Economic Psychology, 34, 120-132.