If You Didn’t Provide it For Yourself, It’s Not SELF Esteem!

| 07/12/2010 | Comments (11)

It’s always been fascinating that so many men have such a hard time with women like me.  I don’t want to use that tired phrase and claim that men are intimidated – instead, I would prefer to say that many of the males I’ve come across don’t feel as confident of themselves and their manhood as they would like to, and find a woman like me to be too much of a reminder of their lacking.

How is that for being diplomatic!?Not Your Job to Keep a Man

I’ve found that the one issue that causes the most conflict is the one of need.  I was told as a young girl that men need to feel needed.  I’ve never understood such a statement.  I make MYSELF happy – I do not NEED a man to do that FOR me. I make myself feel confident, secure and positive – I do not NEED anyone else to do that FOR me.

I am happy right here right now by myself pecking on my computer and dreaming of the legacy I will leave behind when I die. I am also happy when I am in love with someone, and I am equally happy if same said person is not here due to travel or choice. I am happy when I succeed and win, and I am happy when I fall short of my goals.  I see both as necessary life lessons and any disappointment just one more rung in the ladder to my ultimate success.

I am me 24/7/365… happy, satisfied with myself, confident about who and what I am, accomplished and highly intelligent.  I am not made MORE because of an affiliation with anyone, including a boyfriend or husband.  I don’t feel that I am LESS in any way because someone I care about doesn’t care the same way about me.

Interestingly enough, I recently had an exchange with a fella that informed me that men get their confidence from success with women. His observations were that a man that failed frequently with females would be lacking confidence and that is why player types of guys seemed so confident about themselves. Likewise, shallow, insecure men achieve a sense of power based on the woman on their arm – her beauty is something he can point to with pride and enjoy the envious glances of other shallow, insecure men.

Women are just as bad… especially those with a particular look that men chase after. On the surface these females appear to be confident and beautiful, with their many admirers fawning over and chasing after them.  But unless there is someone fawning over them and making them feel desired, these women look and feel lost, depressed, and confused.

Though I could understand his point, I believe any such “confidence” a male would feel is merely a smoke and mirrors trick. After all, if you are so insecure about yourself that you depend on others to define you as good and worthy, that means they own your sense of who you are!  Without them, you are nothing.

And just like they gave you “confidence” in yourself with their praise or accolades, you are also giving them the power to make you feel like a stupid, ugly, loser should they take their praise away.

That means you have no self-esteem, your shaky sense of who you are is based entirely on the whims of other people.  This also means that your feelings about yourself could change 20 different times per day, simply because the person in your face did or did not like you.

Dad told us kids “ya come into this world alone, and you leave it the same way.”

Don’t get me wrong though! Having a really great guy in your life that tries hard to be a better man can bring a woman a lot of joy.  A great man can create in his woman a desire for his touch, his voice, his energy, his passion and bring her immense fulfillment when she gets those things from him.  But he cannot MAKE her happy… she has to be that herself.

It is no one’s responsibility to MAKE us happy but our own.  I believe that and I live it.  And because I believe it and live it, I am not a miserable, lonely single woman, desperately bending myself into a pretzel to gain any man’s approval.

There is no room in my life for a man that doesn’t congratulate and appreciate but instead tries to negate and deprecate.  Sadly, it seems that isn’t the case with most women.  They will instead allow themselves to get sucked into the game and do all they can to discount their achievements and successes so that some non-performing chump can feel better about himself… more of a “man!”

The author, Deborrah Cooper

Less confident men can’t stand me, and do and say things to try to bring me down a peg or two and damage my self-esteem to gain the upper hand.  It doesn’t work! Never has, never will.  Let me give you a couple of specific examples of recent attempts.

Some years ago I was interviewed for Black Enterprise magazine about my web development work. They printed a four page spread on myself and 2 other web entrepreneurs regarding our websites.

A guy I was going out with saw the article or heard about it. Not sure how because I didn’t tell him.  But he came over for dinner and right in the middle of it said “you think you are alla that cause you in Black Enterprise!

Now I was pouring wine at the time and missed the facial expressions that went along with that utterance, so I didn’t know if he was joking or not – until I looked up. I needed to see his face to put the words and body language together to fully understand his intended message.  That’s when I saw the curled lip snarl and anger in his eyes.

So I calmly told him “no, I don’t think I’m alla that, but obviously YOU do!”  Dinner was full of strained silences.  I broke things off after that.

In another instance I’d enrolled in a weight loss and body fat competition at my gym.  I was excited because there were huge cash prizes and opportunities to win in 5 different categories.  I figured I had a good chance to get SOMETHING out of the deal!

Not long before I’d met a guy that was a prize winning body builder in Puerto Rico. We went out 2 or 3 times… can’t remember exactly.  He was FIONE too. On our last date I was talking about the contest and excitedly sharing how badly I wanted to win. It would have been nice to have him step up to the plate to support me, perhaps sharing some of his experience and tips for success.  I figured if he was really about ME, he would have been encouraging and smiling.

Instead he told me how I had to prepare myself because I was not going to win! Did you get that?  Instead of supporting me and telling me how he could share tips from his prize-winning body building career, or how he could work out with me a few times to provide an extra push towards successful achievement of my goal, he condemned me to failure.  He got NEXTED as well.

Love coulda come, but dummies kill it

When he didn’t study for his exams in college and got a “D”, but somehow it was the professor’s fault for giving him a bad grade.  If he waited until the last minute to produce a research or term paper, and threw together some hodge podge hot mess to turn in and got less than an “A”, somehow it was everyone else’s fault. 

Then, when he got fired from his job for showing up late one time too many, it was his bosses fault for not being understanding and being a tight ass.

Then the finger of blame was pointed at me.

One night he shouted “you MAKE ME feel bad about myself because you do everything perfectly and always get what you want!”  I told him that it wasn’t my fault that he was not focused on getting what he wanted out of life, nor that he refused to take responsibility for his lack of positive action.

Sigh.  That budding relationship ended as well.

Ladies, tolerating such behavior from men is a quick path to low self esteem and the very last thing you should EVER do.


(continued on page 2 below)

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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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Category: Date Smarter, Not Harder

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  1. rubyheard86 says:

    nice one!

  2. Patricia says:

    The idea that your self esteem is influenced by others is true, esp. when you are a kid. But if you were beat down by your family as a kid and ended up with low self esteem, know that that is not a permanent, fixed state.

    You need to own your feelings as an adult and begin building the inner knowledge that you are worthwhile. Otherwise, yes, you will attract people who are as sick as you are, think you are not worthy of esteem, and they will take advantage of you or worse. Relying on others for your own feeling of self-worth is useless in the long run.

  3. D`Marie says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I’m giving it to my daughter. She only 15 years old (way too young to date but nevertheless…) and i am trying my best to drill these values into her right now.

  4. Keisha says:

    Well, this article is intersting but I never understood why people think that true self-esteem comes from within, I’m sorry but I don’t think that is true. As social creatures the bulk of self esteem comes from outward sources for both men and women. It’s in how people treat/have treated you starting from your parents and everyone else throughout your life. It is hard to build self esteem if people around you don’t think you are worth much, especially people you admire, love, and trust. It’s human nature, basic psychology.

    • Raz says:

      Kiesha: “As social creatures the bulk of self esteem comes from outward sources for both men and women. It’s in how people treat/have treated you starting from your parents and everyone else throughout your life. It is hard to build self esteem if people around you don’t think you are worth much, especially people you admire, love, and trust. It’s human nature, basic psychology.”

      You make some very valid points. Positive or negative reinforcement by the people we care about makes a huge difference in how we view ourselves. If we are broken by our parents as children, during the formative years, it is hard to recover from that. That said, there comes a time in someone’s life where they have to wake up and not continue to play the victim and allow how ‘others think of them’ keep them making unhealthy choices. Women especially have to be careful of this as we’ve been socialized to value our self worth through what a man ‘thinks of us’.

    • You misunderstand what the word “self” means then. It is VERY true. Self-esteem cannot come from outside sources, it comes from within. If you believe in yourself and your talents, abilities and intelligence, it doesn’t matter what other people say. You blow it off! You ignore them! Only people that have low self esteem care what naysayers say and take their thoughts and criticisms to be meaningful. If you really had high self esteem, no one could crack your belief in yourself and what they say or thought about you would not matter in the least. You would still do what you do, and congratulate YOURSELF when you meet the goals and tally up the achievements you have set for YOURSELF.

      There are people that are other oriented, and there are people that are self oriented. The self oriented people have high self esteem and the other oriented are batted about like tumbleweeds in the wind, totally dependent upon getting the acknowledgement, recognition and approval of other people. To me that is dumb and you set yourself up to have your feelings crushed.

      Caring about what other people think about you is foolhardy. People will be jealous and say things to try to hurt you. People will be envious and not want you to be better or do more than they do, so they will say things to try to hurt you. People will feel insecure about your confidence and abilities, and do or say things to try to bring you down to their level. Knowing that, why the hell would I give what some other person thinks any credence? That would make me as stupid as they are. One thing Deb is not is stupid.

  5. Lana says:

    I hope to reach even 40% of your confidence one day, Ms. Cooper. After 8 years without so much as a date, I am about ready to settle for any man who doesn’t pose a physical threat. Disgusting, I know. But I am a size 10 in a 0-6 land and, though I AM dieting and exercising and very healthy medically, I am constantly overlooked while guys ask me for my “cute” friends’ numbers.

    Anyway, that’s my problem and no one else’s.

    Thanks for inspiring me to try and find some self-created happiness.

  6. Mace says:

    The author makes an excellent point. Maybe this is why men take rejection so hard. They stake their confidence on whether a woman likes them or not so if they take a chance and approach a woman and she turns them down, for a guy that’s a death blow.

    They take it so personally because they base ‘who’ they are on whether a woman likes them or not.

    I think this hinders guys from approaching women because they are so afraid of rejection. For a guy saying no, to a dance, or a date to him means you are saying no to his manhood to who he is as a man. That’s a tough pill for men to swallow.

  7. Shia says:

    I co-sign on this article. 98% of the men mistakes I’ve made is because I was searching for that giddy man caused “happiness” instead of a stable self brought one.

  8. Hodan says:

    great advice, I think its a process to get to where you are @ right now. I’m somewhere in between, because I let family get to me more than they should. Thanks for this amazing piece of wisdom, I’ll read it whenever I want to remind myself to continue on to my chosen path.

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