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Research

Optimal Self-Esteem (OSE)

As a result of my postgraduate research on Optimal Self-Esteem (OSE), I have developed a framework that builds the specific components of this psychological construct. I have tested this framework in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on hundreds of women from various professions and cultures, and at different ages and stages in their career. The results have shown very positive long-term outcomes for women’s flourishing,

OSE (which I call Grounded or Lasting Confidence) is different to the kind of confidence we see in a world that reveres patriarchal definitions of power and strength. Instead, it’s one based in grace, presence, and authenticity — traits that come naturally to women, and that are desperately needed in our world today.

Here are a few of the big ideas from the research:

01: High Self-Esteem can often be fragile

Unlike what I’d assumed, people who look quite confident on the outside can be highly vigilant to signs of criticism or failure, and take every measure to not let it happen. When it does, they tend to react in extreme ways – blame and judgment, or self-doubt and self-criticism, depending on their earlier experiences and current circumstances.

02: Fragile Self-Esteem can stay unaddressed

When success and praise are common, people with fragile self-esteem (FSE) can stay oblivious to their hidden beliefs of low self-worth. Which is why a lot of competent women start losing their confidence when they face the “double bind” of competence and like-ability. Or the “double burden” of motherhood and management, which makes it difficult to feel successful without burning out.

03: Grounded Confidence is buildable – and lasting

If you take only 1 thing away from this research, remember this: Grounded Confidence is buildable by retracing the stages of adult development. The framework I’ve built does so step by step, so you’re grounded in that unshakeable core of compassion and wisdom, and show up courage and joy toward the highest version of yourself.

As I look back on this journey, I’m grateful for having emerged sane from what’s been called “the conundrum of self-esteem”. What helped me stay focused was the search for a psychological construct of confidence that can help us become who we are, and rise to the needs of our struggling world.

Grounded Confidence is not an effortless journey, nor an externally determined construct. It doesn’t come from blowing yourself kisses in the mirror, or pursuing perfection and other people’s expectations. Nor does it come from achievements, accolades or approval. It comes from the constant, and ultimately liberating journey of valuing yourself, respecting your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and recognizing your responsibility to give your gifts back to the world.

You can read the rationale for the research here

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