As I read a passage from Golden Men: The Power of Gay Midlife, by Harold Kooden, PhD. with Charles Flowers, it occurred to me some readers might not see how important self-esteem is, or have an interest in improving their self-esteem, because of what Kooden calls other-esteem. Kooden writes:
'Much of what we do to increase our self-esteem is really what I call "other-esteem," since it is the esteem of others that we really care about. Dieting, makeovers, new cars and homes, or keeping up with the Joneses are all ways to get people to pay attention to us and reward us with their approval or envy. How much of all that is about us and about what we want?
'A gay man may say, "It is about what I want: a boyfriend. If I don't have the right body or clothes, I'll never get noticed and I'll be single and bitter and old." When I ask him why a boyfriend is so important, he'll say having a boyfriend makes him feel attractive, accepted, "normal." But then I remind him no one makes us feel a particular way. While our feelings are reactions to other people's behaviors, the pursuit of other-esteem is a reaction to our own feelings of inadequacy. But no matter how desperately we crave it, other-esteem is a losing battle, a no-win situation, since we have no control over what other people will think of us [ p. 199].'
Need I say more about why self-esteem always trumps other-esteem?