This post will be different from other things I post about confidence, conceit, and insecurity in that this post is all 100% opinion and just my way of doing things. Keep that in mind.
I think a big part of self-esteem is whom you let influence you, whom you listen to. To me, there are three categories of influence when it comes to how you listen to other people about yourself: constructive criticism, compliments, and insults. I also think it's important to know already what kind of person you want to be so you can more accurately choose your influences.
The way I see it:
- Constructive criticism I only listen to when it comes from someone who already knows what I need to know, like passing wisdom. Otherwise, I'm not concerned about it. For example, I'm in medical school, so if someone who doesn't even have an undergrad science degree wants to criticize me about something I might be doing wrong in med school, I see no reason to listen to that person because what does he/she even know about med school? If my professor/doctor mentions it to me, that's another story. I take constructive criticism from somebody who has already accomplished something that I still need to accomplish or who has enough credit in it to have reason to influence me.
- Compliments surely everybody loves, but they should not be taken more to heart than constructive criticism. That's what makes a person conceited, I think. Be appreciative of compliments just as you are about constructive criticism, and weigh both so that they give you a confident but not arrogant balance of attitude of yourself.
- Insults aren't insults to me because they just aren't worth listening to, in my opinion. Why? Well that's what constructive criticism is for. I don't mind being told I'm wrong or if I'm acting crazy at the moment or whatever it might be. When it's a random person just coming off with something to try to offend me, it makes me see them as immature. I don't know of a mature person who goes around with the task of trying to insult people. Therefore, it's legitimately pretty much impossible for a random person to insult me. The only way someone could insult me and me take it that way instead of as just immaturity is if the person was someone who, again, is greatly respectable to me and could influence me by constructive criticism but yet chose to insult me. Has that ever happened? Oh yes. Everybody gets insulted at some point. However, this very rarely happens. Why? Because the people I respect enough to be insulted by have my respect for a reason, and they don't tend to succumb to that level.
***It's all about WHO you're listening to. :) ***
- How well does the person know you?
- How much does that person know about what they're telling you?
So why am I like this?
Background of this particular topic on me: I grew up with everybody wanting to be my friend. I was popular and everybody knew my parents were wealthy doctors. I only ever hung out with other popular people. This gave me an automatic confidence boost in day-to-day life without anything else even having to be considered. This is what made constructive criticism mean so much to me and insults mean nothing to me, especially when most of the time they weren't true and were just ways of the other person being snappy. As far as compliments, I'm thankful but they aren't necessary.
So let's get a little personal... Have I ever been personally influenced on GAG? Yes I have. Once. This particular user also has a biochem and pre-medicine degree, and she has shown that she's quite skilled at it, no doubt. So with the same degree as me, she showed me where I was wrong on a certain forum, and she constructively criticized me about it. (One thing you may notice about who you listen to is that those who tend to be worth listening to use constructive criticism. They don't resort to insulting. Why? Well, they've already made their accomplishment and you are no competition to them.) I appreciate her effort in showing me that, and now I know it. Learning is fun, but a knowledgeable teacher is necessary. She knew what she was talking about, which is why I took it in respectively and I'm glad she told me. (I won't mention the user. Privacy would be appreciated, I think. If she reads this, she knows who she is.)
So... have I ever been insulted on GAG? No. How come? Well, nobody on here knows me, so that automatically knocks all of that out. Then there's the fact that I filter out the immature trolls and only look for the constructive criticism, which takes maturity, unlike trying to insult anybody. I think a lot more users might benefit from this method (not anyone in particular, I just see a lot of people getting offended on here), but again, this is just my personal take on it.
Is it possible for me to be insulted on this site? Yes, but to an extremely small condition: it can only be done by that one user. Why? Because I respect her opinion, and she's worthy of that respect. However, she has already made her accomplishment and is successful in the field of knowledge we share, so I'm willing to bet that she's not one who would go around trying to insult people; she has much better things to do and is above that.
Conclusion: A big part of having high self-esteem is controlling who and what you let influence you. The world is a lot bigger than each of us so we all need some kind of help at some point. Be careful how you determine who is worthy to listen to; take in all the help you can get and ignore the trash. Consider what kind of person you want to be and who you want to be, and based on that determine who is worthy of your acknowledgement in this way.