Power as a Substitute for Self-esteem

Photo by Brandon Morgan on Unsplash

I have low self-esteem. Believe me, it is in some ways well-deserved. I was never evil — I never intentionally caused harm to anyone as a person—but I can’t think back on my past without regretting some things I have done. (Low self-esteem can lead to such behavior, reinforcing that self-assessment, etc.)

To my credit, I was always trying to be better. I’m a much better person than I used to be — though, as a male, simply getting older can help a lot with that. Testosterone is a toxic substance for anyone whose emotional health and psychological makeup are less than stellar.

My low self-esteem stemmed primarily from my upbringing. Other reasons for low self-esteem can be related to physical appearance (which also contributed in my case), level of intelligence, and social status (in particular the status into which one is born — which also contributed in my case).

Having low self-esteem does affect different people in different ways. In my relations with other people I have tended to be passive and accommodative — even bordering on obsequious. Because I have doubted my worthiness I haven’t wanted to risk relationships by being challenging (even if I have sometimes been anyway).

It is possible to have low self-esteem and accomplish big things. Given my level of native intelligence, I have way overachieved in that area. I learned philosophy and economics. I’ve even made original contributions to the body of knowledge in both areas* (even if none of that has been generally recognized). It could be said that I have over-compensated intellectually for my shortcomings as a person. [*e.g., “All we Need Is Equality,” “Re-thinking Individualism,” “Real Justice,” and “For Crying Out Loud, ACCEPT That A SOLUTION Actually EXISTS” all here in Medium]

Another way of compensating for low self-esteem is to engage in displays of personal power. Apparently, for some people there is no limit to how small the scale of those displays can be. In my experience, finding themselves to be in someone’s way and staying in that person’s way rather than getting out of the way seems to be a big favorite of people.

President Trump is the epitome of someone who uses personal power to compensate for low self-esteem. He even uses the presidency as a form of personal power. He clearly gets great satisfaction from bending people to his will. The more it is something they would rather not do, the more personal satisfaction he obviously gets from it. Low self-esteem coupled with that much personal power is a dangerous combination.

It is impossible to resist the conclusion that President Trump’s fans are people with low self-esteem who experience power vicariously through him. I do not say that as a matter of political partisanship. I say it as one person with low self-esteem recognizing it in others — who recognize in President Trump a fellow being with low self-esteem yet much personal power when they see it.




unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid, academically trained in economics and philosophy

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Stephen Yearwood

Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid, academically trained in economics and philosophy

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