This clip is from the trailer for the movie “The Incredibles.”
Psychologist Michael Britt talks about the film in one of his PsychFiles podcasts, titled: “How Do You Really Raise Self-Esteem? The Incredibles vs. American Idol.” Here is an excerpt.
Dr. Britt goes on to talk about “American Idol” and the difference in style between Paula Abdul, who is typically vapid and gushingly positive – “You really sang your soul” etc – versus Simon Cowell, who can be vicious but is often on target with realistic criticism.
Britt also notes many of the (generally young adult) contestants have a high level of self-esteem and self-regard, regardless of objective criteria about their singing talent, such as being able to stay on key.
Britt refers to the article How Not to Talk to Your Kids, by Po Bronson, who notes, “Since the 1969 publication of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, in which Nathaniel Branden opined that self-esteem was the single most important facet of a person, the belief that one must do whatever he can to achieve positive self-esteem has become a movement with broad societal effects.
“Anything potentially damaging to kids’ self-esteem was axed. Competitions were frowned upon. Soccer coaches stopped counting goals and handed out trophies to everyone. Teachers threw out their red pencils. Criticism was replaced with ubiquitous, even undeserved, praise.”
What about adults? Should every actor or filmmaker get an award just because they helped make a movie? Of course not. But many talented people feel very self-critical, and experience less than healthy self-esteem.
Meryl Streep, even with years of acclaim for her acting, has admitted, “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing… You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent.”
[From my article Self-esteem: what’s so good about it?]
So, we do need to nurture meaningful self-esteem in kids and ourselves, but not the superficial and overinflated kind, and we can enhance our talents by awarding ourselves deserving credit for having abilities and accomplishments.