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Nobody Is Special, and That’s Great

Nobody Is Special, and That’s Great

It is common to see certain people as wholly unique, that there is something special about them. We look at great innovators like Elon Musk, and think he is special because not many people think they have what it takes to revolutionize travel on land an in space. Even figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger we regard as special, after all, we think, it must take a special person to become the strongest man in the world, a movie star, and a state governor.

Most people imagine them as black swans, who stick out from the others and their individuality is worthy of praise. But very few swans are black, yet does this mean that ordinary swans (or ordinary people) are without value? Clearly not. Each are unique.

But this raises an interesting point. If each of us are unique and special, then that must mean that none of us are. If the norm is special, then being special is meaningless.

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    If this is the case, then where does our obsession about being special come from?

    By Default, Everyone Thinks They’re Special

    We are hard wired to feel special, or otherwise want to feel special. On top of this, our parents tend to see us as special from birth (after all we are their children and are special in that sense). This makes us either want to be special to justify their views, or grow up thinking we are naturally unique and special.

      From childhood we see those who are seen as smarter, more attractive, or charming succeed where most of us don’t. Deep down we all want recognition, its simple human nature. So when we see others getting it, we either get jealous, or think them uniquely special.

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      When we get recognition, our confidence and self esteem grows, this can be extremely good for you, but can also have the affect of having an overly inflated sense of worth and pride, and thus think ourselves special to everyone else.

        Feeling “Special” Is Dangerous

        No matter how much we want ourselves to be the special ones, most of us are just ordinary. Some people are simply better than others at things.

        This might seem as an insult for some, but think about it, it is impossible to be great at everything. Though some people might be better than you at one thing, you might be better than them at something else.

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        Sure, we can look at people like Schwarzenegger or Elon Musk as if they are special. But there are things that you can do that they would struggle with. The issue is, we only see the things that they are great at. I might, for example, cook better than Elon Musk, or write better than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

        This view of only seeing the positives and great attributes can apply to our view of ourselves too. Someone who is extremely prideful and sees themselves as incredibly special, will naturally have a limited view of themselves. They will be blind to their problems and flaws and negative sides.

          This is a major problem in itself, without knowledge of your flaws, after all, it is impossible to improve yourself. The person who sees themselves as special would in fact be in a worse place than most people in the world, people who want to improve themselves.

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            Redefining “Special”

            There are roughly 7.442 billion people in the world right now, and that number is increasing rapidly. Therefore the possibility than any one of us is more gifted than anyone else is borderline statistically impossible. Things I’ve experienced have been experienced by many thousands before me, and many thousands will experience the same after me, it is inevitable.

              So with this, perhaps the only way to be special is to feel good about ourselves. If nobody is truly special, then why need to focus on those seen as greater?
              If nobody is born special then there is nothing stopping you achieving as they have.

              This idea may be disheartening at first, but I think there is something liberating about it. There is no longer any pressure to feel like you have to be special and great at everything.

              Everyone is unique in the sense that there is nobody in world who is them. There never has been before, and never will be ever again. So instead of trying to be better than everyone else and unique, what’s left is to be great in your own way. You might love to draw and are great at it (I’m certainly not!) so why not just celebrate your drawing skills. Maybe you won’t end up being the next Michaelangelo, but why should that stop you?

              More by this author

              Anna Chui

              Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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              1 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 2 Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain? 3 How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts 4 10 Personal Development Goals for Success and Happiness 5 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever

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              Last Updated on May 21, 2019

              Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

              Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

              People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

                In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

                Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

                Common Symptoms

                • Unable to trust your own opinion
                • Always overthinking
                • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
                • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
                • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

                Lesser-Known Symptoms

                Being a workaholic

                At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

                It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

                Overachieving or underachieving

                Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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                However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

                Causes of Low Self-Esteem

                Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

                • Frequent punishment
                • Frequent neglect
                • Chronic abuse
                • Harsh parental standards
                • Being bullied/boycotted
                • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
                • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
                • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

                Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

                How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

                “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

                When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

                That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

                How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

                Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

                How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

                So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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                It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

                Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

                When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

                It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

                As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

                Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

                It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

                People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

                During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

                It Can Lead to Depression

                Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

                How to Improve Self-Esteem

                As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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                1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

                Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

                Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

                2. Focus Elsewhere

                “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

                Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

                When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

                According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

                Or you can refer to the graph below:

                5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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                  To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

                  • Deep connection with loved ones
                  • A healthy body
                  • Sense of control
                  • A meaningful life purpose
                  • Recognition and respect from others
                  • Sense of security
                  • Creativity

                  As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

                  Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

                  To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

                  1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
                  2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
                  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
                  4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
                  5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
                  6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
                  7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
                  8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
                  9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
                  10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

                  The Bottom Line

                  If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

                  How?

                  Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

                  Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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