In recent posts, we have been discussing how violence is connected to heavy doses of shame. We surfaced that having healthy respect for yourself and for those you influence is one way to reduce shame. Another antidote to shame is healthy self-esteem.
CUPS: the formula for self-esteem
What constitutes healthy self-esteem can be summarized in the acronym CUPS. If you remember, I discussed CUPS in the context of past posts on emotional and relational health of teenagers. I’d like to remind you of the formula that we have been teaching that is research-based, and I think, makes sense for both children and adults.
This idea of promoting CUPS to those in your sphere of influence may not only be a helpful reminder of what children need, but also of what we all need in order to be emotionally and relationally healthy.
So, we want to promote CUPS as:
- Connectiveness, a sense of belonging
- Uniqueness, a sense of being respected for individuality
- Power, a sense of having the right to certain powers while respecting others’ right to their power
- Sense of role models, encouragement and ways to imitate those who held in high esteem
Using CUPS may eliminate the potential to shame
As we build our relationships, if we focus on continually promoting the CUPS’ principles, then it is nearly impossible to promote shame at the same time. In other words, concentrating on building self-esteem can severely reduce the potential for shame, making self-esteem sort of like an antidote to shame.
Some people may fear that the CUPS approach could lead to arrogant pride that would imply a kind of superior status. It is important to distinguish arrogance from healthy pride.
A healthy sense of pride recognizes a quality or ability being used in a way that has positive impact to ourselves or others. If we were to reflect on the ways we (and our children) have had a healthy impact on the world around us, we can be very proud of those accomplishments for their value in building self-esteem. It is not about arrogance but about impact.
The impact of healthy self-esteem
Think about the impact to our sphere of influence when we would combine raising self-esteem and what I have already written about the ways to respect someone. If we were able to do both, we would be well on the way to eliminating some consequences and results that we have talked about when we defined and described the tragic legacies caused by toxic shame.
Our relational building blocks need the important principles that truly value, nurture and build us and our children from the inside (holistically). If we do this, we will be giving ourselves and others a key that will influence and potentially transform lives.
Further, in using CUPS and healthy self-respect, I believe we can reduce all kinds of societal issues related to guilt and shame. Wouldn’t the world be different if we can offer ways for people to grow to express themselves in a healthy way?
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
*Some information taken from Understanding Teens, Diane Wagenhals, 2007.