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Is it ethical, right, & necessary for unsuccessful people to have low self-esteem?

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The Laws of Biology
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Must one withhold self-esteem from oneself until such time as one has achieved success?

I think I saw a noteworthy Objectivist who gave a talk titled "Self Esteem Must Be Earned." 

Or, can a person grant self-esteem to himself just because he is living, acting, and thinking right now with integrity and ethics, regardless of whether or not he has yet achieved success in his work?

But what if a long period of time goes by and he still hasn't achieved success in his work? What then?

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I don't think you're framing the issue correctly. Self-esteem isn't something you "grant" yourself - it's an emotional/spiritual reward for acting in accordance with your nature as a human being. Cause and effect. I'm sure you're familiar with the virtues, so I don't feel the need to list them for you here. Self-esteem is really quite similar to happiness, which Ayn Rand defines as "a state of non-contradictory joy". It's knowing that you're capable of independently pursuing values in reality, that you possess a self-made soul that you (and others) can admire. 

If you act in a way which is contrary to your self-interest, then you simply won't feel self-esteem. People are generally mixtures of good and evil, which inevitably leads to a conflict within you, hence "non-contradictory joy" being the definition of happiness. To the extent that you choose to be self-interested in every facet of your life, and as long as you're not prevented from pursuing values by some external force, you will feel happy.
 

Now, another major factor that plays a significant part when it comes to the development of self-esteem is one's moral code. As an example, take a businessman who feels guilty over his wealth and his achievements. Well, he has acted morally in reality, but his conflict stems from his altruistic code of morality. He won't feel unbreached self-esteem because his own morality simply won't let him. 

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On 1/23/2022 at 2:37 AM, The Laws of Biology said:

Must one withhold self-esteem from oneself until such time as one has achieved success?

I think I saw a noteworthy Objectivist who gave a talk titled "Self Esteem Must Be Earned." 

Or, can a person grant self-esteem to himself just because he is living, acting, and thinking right now with integrity and ethics, regardless of whether or not he has yet achieved success in his work?

But what if a long period of time goes by and he still hasn't achieved success in his work? What then?

I think, with "Achieved success" you raise (the virtue of) pride rather than the (cardinal value of) self-esteem. (Along with reason and purpose). 

"Value is that which one acts to gain and keep, virtue is the action by which one gains and keeps it". Right?

I.e. Practiced virtues are one's means to achieve one's highest values.

(Identically, the virtue:value correspondence of: rationality to reason; productiveness to purpose).

Self-esteem, I'd say, is a general and subconscious self-appraisal. (The "reputation you have with your self" N. Branden).
Pride is the concrete and conscious assessment of one's specific acts and achievements.

Best I refer to Branden:

"We need to distinguish the concept of positive self-esteem from the concept of pride, since the two are often confused. Self esteem...pertains to an inner conviction of our fundamental efficacy and worth....

"Positive self-esteem is "I can". Pride is "I have"."

[NB: Honoring the Self]

You will see that one doesn't and can't consciously "withhold" or "grant" self esteem to oneself.

The grounding precondition: Can one ¬accept¬ self-esteem? As one's rightful state?

"The greatest barrier to achievement and success is not lack of talent or ability, but, rather, the fact that achievement and success, above a certain level, are outside our self-concept, our image of who we are and what is appropriate to us..." NB

To go back to your query, "Can a person 'grant' self -esteem [pride] to himself just because he is living, acting, and thinking right now, with integrity and ethics, regardless ...of success in his work"?

Certainly, he can take ¬pride¬ in these moral accomplishments. The active pride in explicit and concrete achievements ('I have done') should follow in due course, with a gradually growing self-esteem ('I can do').

A caution, to avoid the trap of taking others' opinions and achievements as the final judgements on one's actions and perhaps, modest-seeming, accomplishments. While of course there are many outstanding individuals we may look to as aspirational figures. The envy of, or contrasting of their works, success or fame to one's own successes, will be obstacles to one creating one's own achievements and self-esteem.

"Genuine self-esteem is not competitive or comparative". N. Branden

 

Edited by whYNOT
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