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A Mundane Comedy is Dom Kelleher's new book, which will be published in late 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

The 52:52:52 project, launching on this site and on social media later in 2024, will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

This site addresses what's changing, at the personal, organisational and societal levels. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 elements of life, from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and much more besides, which will help you better prepare for related change in your own life.

Halcyon In Kaleidoscope features irregular and fragmentary writings - on ideas and values, places and people - which evolve over time into mini essais, paying humble homage to the peerless founder of the genre. The kaleidoscope is Halcyon's prime metaphor, viewing the world through ever-moving lenses.

What's Changing? - Self-Esteem



Please see below recent self-esteem-related change.


See also:


June 2024


April 2024

  • “Koinophobia", or the fear of being ordinary is often rooted in the belief that we need to be ‘extraordinary’ to be loved and accepted by others,” according to psychotherapist Rachel Vora. Low self-esteem and beliefs about not being good enough can often be at the root of fearing an 'ordinary’ life, as people often feel they need to prove themselves by achieving the ‘extraordinary’.


March 2024

  • Chelsea Harvey Garner, therapist and author of the book A Pity Party Is Still a Party, claimed that everyone has a story, and everyone’s story deserves to be heard. This isn’t true only about our past, but also about the story of what’s happening now, the parts that are still being written. Telling our story isn’t about coming up with the most brilliant moral or the perfect words. The power is in the simple act of speaking what’s true. We don’t have to be a writer or motivational speaker to do this. We can tell our story face-to-face, or online, or in a journal. Describing what we’ve survived can energise and even help us recognise what we’re capable of.
  • Guilt is never pleasant, but we can, in most cases, at least we know what we feel guilty about. Yet there are occasions, more unusual yet far more unpleasant in nature, when we find ourselves unable to think of anything we might be responsible for – even as guilt clings tenaciously to us. We simply feel guilty per se, with a sense of awfulness, but without the possibility of confession or resolution, any chance to name our sin or direct our repentance.
  • Appreciating pleasure means trusting our own responses a little more. We can’t wait for everything to be approved by others before we allow ourselves to be enchanted. We need to follow the signals of our own brains and allow that we are onto something important, even though others may not yet be in agreement. We are dominated by striving: for better relationships, work and personal lives. Restless, we think, is synonymous with success. Nothing should be good enough for long. But, in so concerning ourselves with unattainable levels of excellence, we overlook more modest pleasures, closer to home.


February 2024

  • The School of Life noted that, with one exception - humans - no animal is capable of hating itself. It’s one of the strangest, and most regrettable, flaws in our condition. This tendency to self-hatred is not only destructive of our spirit; it constantly undermines our efforts to establish workable relationships. It is logically impossible to allow anyone else to love us insofar as we remain obsessed by the thought of our own loathsome natures. Why let another think better of us than we think of ourselves? If anyone did step forward and tried to be kind to us, we would have to despise them with the intensity owed to all false flatterers.


January 2024


December 2023


November 2023

  • Termed imposter phenomenon by US psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes - and then relabelled "imposter syndrome" by others - many people recognise the experience of a feeling of phoniness or inadequacy that exists despite evidence to the contrary. Anyone who's had this experience will likely have an inner critic or ‘imposter voice’ – i.e. a negative way of thinking about oneself that repeatedly pops up in our consciousness – which questions our legitimacy and perhaps whether we truly belong, and believing that others have overestimated your competence, which causes a fear of being ‘found out’. However, the imposter phenomenon is not a disorder or a disease, and research suggests it's a common experience. 
  • Meanwhile, research led by the University of Edinburgh Business School focused onto the intersection between professional social networks usage - such as LinkedIn - and imposter syndrome. The research is the first to show using LinkedIn induces imposter syndrome. It found that when users both browse the platform and post about their personal achievements, they relay feeling a sense of imposter syndrome that includes thoughts of anxiety/depression. The paper also found that imposter thoughts drive intentions to enact direct resolution behaviour, such as signing up for paid courses designed to increase competency skills across the platform.


October 2023

  • The School of Life argued that, to survive in the pressured conditions of modernity, we have to get good at self-criticism. We have to make sure that there is nothing our worst enemies could tell us that we have not already fully taken on board: we must become masters of self-hatred. We must behold our own mediocrity without sentimentality or favour; we must allow paranoia to triumph over ease and complacency. Yet so skilled may we become at these manoeuvres, our victory is at risk of miscarrying. In response to certain personal or professional setbacks, we may grow to despise ourselves to such an extent, we eventually develop difficulties getting out of bed. In time, we may even conclude it might be best just to do away with ourselves.


July 2023


June 2023

  • The School of Life noted that impostor syndrome has its roots in a basic feature of the human condition. We know ourselves from the inside, but others only from the outside. We’re aware of all our anxieties, doubts and idiocies from within, yet all we know of others is what they show and tell us: a narrower, and more edited, source of information. The solution to impostor syndrome lies in making a crucial leap of faith: that everyone must (despite a lack of evidence) be as anxious, uncertain and wayward as we are. The leap means that whenever we encounter a stranger we’re not really encountering a stranger; we’re in fact encountering someone who is - in spite of the surface evidence to the contrary - in basic ways very much like us.


April 2023


March 2023

  • On average, strangers like us more than we realise. Research by Erica J Boothby at Cornell University and colleagues involved having pairs of strangers chat together for five minutes, to rate how much they liked their interaction partner, and to estimate how much their partner liked them. Across a variety of settings and study durations, the same pattern emerged. People underestimated how much they were liked, a phenomenon that Boothby and her colleagues labelled ‘the liking gap’.


January 2023

  • One of the worst symptoms of childhood trauma is a feeling of shame, by which is meant: a pervasive impression that one is a terrible person, a primitive, basic abhorrence at oneself, a sense of all-encompassing embarrassment about who one is, what one wants, and what one has done. Shame is one of the most heinous forms of psychological torment, warned The School of Life,
  • The effects of being bullied can sometimes be felt for a considerable time after the bullying has taken place, as long as decades later. A study of hundreds of people with a childhood history of bullying identified agoraphobia, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and depression as elevated risks in adulthood. Other research found that survivors tend to report a heightened sense of rejection, lower self-esteem, and a higher frequency of past suicidal thoughts than others. 
  • Stacee Reicherzer wrote the book The Healing Otherness Handbook (2021) to guide people who’ve felt ‘othered’ or bullied for their differences and 1) to identify the ways in which that otherness has impacted them across the lifespan; and 2) to provide clear and workable steps for healing that are rooted in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
  • For the School of Life, we may not realise the extent to which we have mortgaged our inner lives to the received ideas that are, actually, alien to our true selves. We start to be free when we can dare to become wilfully ignorant - when we no longer have to know the names of certain musicians that everyone esteems, when we don’t feel compelled to read particular books that have won prizes, when we are left cold by holiday destinations, clothes, foods, exercise regimes, political scandals and ideas that are dominant, when we can stay home rather than attend parties with people we dislike and when we can hear of a celebrity and genuinely wonder who they might be. 


December 2022


October 2022


September 2022


June 2022


May 2022

  • Psyche highlighted two biased forms of thinking that involve taking things too personally. The first is personalisation, which is believing that you’re the cause of a negative event, despite having little or no evidence to support the belief. In my case, I thought I had missed out on an opportunity because I upset my friend, even though I had no idea what I had done. The second is mind reading, which is believing that someone is making a critical judgment about you, especially in an ambiguous situation where you’ve received no direct feedback. 


April 2022

  • The School of Life noted that a lack of confidence is often put down to something we call shyness, but beneath shyness, there may lie something more surprising, pernicious and poignant. We suffer from a suspicion of ourselves that gives us a sense that other people will always have good reasons to dislike us, to think ill of us, to question our motives and to mock us. We then become scared of the world, speak in a small voice, don’t dare to show our face at gatherings and are frightened of social occasions because we fear that we are ideal targets for ridicule and disdain. Our shy manner is the pre-emptive stance we adopt in the face of the blows we feel that other people want to land on us. Our shyness is rooted in a sense of unworthiness.
  • The way we relate to other people emotionally - our attachment style - matters greatly in life. Studies that have followed the same individuals for decades have found that the ability to initiate and sustain good relationships is crucial for long-term happiness. Attachment science is based on the work of the British child psychologist John Bowlby and his colleagues in the 1950s. Bowlby believed that human beings - like other mammals - have a deep-seated need for love and nurturance from their parents or other carers, and that if this care is absent or unreliable, it can lead to long-term problems, including relating to other people. 


March 2022

  • The temptation is to make a direct comparison between the lives of others and our own: simply to wish that we could be in exactly their place. To weaken that sentiment, it helps to remind ourselves of the many ways in which we are, and always were, different from those we are presently choosing to compare ourselves to. To look across the aisle and want to swap our lives for theirs is to underestimate the many powerful – and sometimes painful – reasons why we are as we are. Our particular travails - especially from childhood - shaped us in very distinctive ways; we had to contend with challenges that others escaped and vice versa. We haven’t merely coped differently with life from others; we have very different minds, cautioned The School of Life.


January 2022


November 2021


September 2021


July 2021

  • In a survey, 55 per cent of women and 42 per cent of men reported some measure of dissatisfaction with at least one element of their appearance. The degree to which people are concerned about their bodies ranges widely, from not liking one particular feature to a serious mental health condition called body dysmorphic disorder, in which people focus obsessively on their appearance. People with the disorder often limit their social interactions and frequently experience other mental health problems such as eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. Body image concerns are not merely superficial, but can affect many aspects of people’s lives. This means that developing a positive body image can have positive consequences for both mental and physical health and wellbeing.


June 2021


April 2021

  • For The School of Life, self-love is the quality that determines how much we can be friends with ourselves and, day to day, remain on our own side. When we meet a stranger who has things we don’t, how quickly do we feel ourselves pitiful – and how long can we remain assured by the decency of what we have and are? When another person frustrates or humiliates us, can we let the insult go, able to perceive the senseless malice beneath the attack – or are we left brooding and devastated, implicitly identifying with the verdict of our enemies? How much can the disapproval or neglect of public opinion be offset by the memory of the steady attention of few significant people in the past?
  • Psyche argues that, from a young age, we learn how to be a good friend to others. In kindergarten or nursery school, we’re taught how to share, cooperate and play. Any child who calls other kids dumb, losers or ‘fart face’ is swiftly scolded or given a time out. All in all, we grow up learning to follow the golden rule: ‘Treat others how you want to be treated.’ Yet many of us receive no guidance on how to be a friend to ourselves. In fact, we might even get counterproductive messaging about what it means to treat ourselves with kindness. We might come to believe that being kind towards ourselves is self-indulgent, lazy or weak.


December 2020


September 2020


August 2020

  • New World, Same Humans warns that in 2020, and in the global ‘west’ as traditionally defined, the individual is elevated to a near-kingly status. Brands compete to serve our every desire. Politicians promise to give us what we want. And our culture endlessly tells us the same story: that of the individual protagonist, guided by an inextinguishable light, which is their essential, rational, human self. The central western story is that of the heroic individual. However, as our societies become more advanced and interconnected, they become better at serving any given individual’s preferences. But they also increasingly efface us as individuals, by dwarfing us within a massive and dizzyingly complex social space in which it becomes impossible to feel that we really matter. In 1929 Sigmund Freud published Civilisation and Its Discontents. In that book, he argued that a deep tension was present in the very nature of civilisation itself. We humans, said Freud, have a deep need of civilised forms of life: to keep us safe, and serve our needs. At the same time, though, these forms of life demand that we crush certain crucial and deep-running aspects of ourselves, such as our boundless desire for power over others. Civilisation, then, is paradoxical. It serves us while it enslaves us. We both want it, and don’t want it
  • While researchers, notably Myers-Briggs, indicate that around half the global population are introverted, a new study suggests introverts in the workplace may become victims of unconscious bias. The Silent Worker report, by experience management software provider Qualtrics, reveals that just under two thirds of the 1,000 UK workers it questioned, who identified as introverts, believed they were not given the chance to be heard. Just over half also felt their opinions were neither valued nor listened to.


July 2020

  • We almost all have a character inside our minds whom we might call the "inner critic". It tends to pay its visits late at night, it waits until we’re very tired or physically depleted – and it then it starts to whisper vicious and appalling things to us in order to destroy all possibility of peace, self-confidence and self-compassion. It is at base convinced that we shouldn’t really exist – and it’s extremely subtle and inventive about telling us why. It is, in extremis, the inner critic that tells people to go and kill themselves, warns the School of Life, before examining a range of ways we might try to fight off the inner critic.


June 2020

  • IAI News explained how the pursuit of transcendental values defines not just who we are but who we hope we'll become.
  • IAI News also considered how the self endures even amid the onset of dementia and memory loss.


May 2020

  • Big Think wrote about how ecotherapy (also referred to as nature therapy) has been proven to be effective and is used in various practices and cultures around the world. While we stroll around the forest, breathing in the fresh air, airborne chemicals like phytoncides (a chemical many plants give off to fight disease) are also entering our system. When this happens, the human body responds by increasing the number of natural killer blood cells (a type of white blood cell) which attack virus-infected cells. In one 2009 study, participants spent 3 days/2 nights in a forested area. Their blood and urine were sampled before, during, and after the trip. Natural killer cell activity measured significantly higher during the days spent in the forest and the effect lasted up to 30 days after the trip. The results of a 10-study analysis proved that both men and women have similar self-esteem improvements after experiencing time spent in nature, and the boost in mood particularly impacted men. 


December 2019


November 2019


August 2019


May 2019

  • One of the reasons why our lives are harder than they might be is that most of us have not got a firm handle on the art of mature self-assertion; that is, the ability to put forward our interests in the face of contention in a way that comes across as credible, dignified, serene and effective. For The School of Life, at the root of our failures tends lies one woefully familiar psychological problem above all: self-hatred. It is because we haven’t learnt to love and respect ourselves (indeed, the very concept sounds instinctively alien and somewhat disgusting) that we say nothing, trusting that we have no right to take our own positions seriously. 
  • Anyone with ambition has ego. People who marshal their skills to meet their goals have ego. Artists, athletes, scientists and entrepreneurs achieve their objectives by harnessing the focus and desire to create and discover. But, too often, argues Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, while ego is necessary for getting ahead, an unhealthy belief in how important you are has the opposite impact and blocks your progress.


April 2019

  • In Awkward, the Science of Why We're Socially Awkward and Why That's Awesome, Professor and TED speaker Ty Tashiro demonstrated a special faith in awkward people. He urged them to see accepting their oddities and special talents as the doorway to achieving amazing things and explained that high achievers - whom some other people might see as awkward - have the ability to focus intently on a limited area. They search with zeal for answers to questions outside the mainstream.
  • key cause of high anxiety can be self-hatred. People who have grown up not to like themselves very much at all have an above average risk of suffering from extremes of anxiety, for if one doesn’t think one is worthy, it must – by a dastardly logic – follow that the world is permanently and imminently at high risk of punishing one in the way one suspects one deserves. It seems to fit that people may be laughing behind one’s back, that one may soon be sacked or disgraced, that one is an appropriate target for bullying and rejection and that persecution and worse may be heading towards us.


March 2019


February 2019


December 2018

  • The School of Life believes that self-analysis can work because, as we reflect, we let our sadness take its natural, due shape. We dwell at length on the wounds. We give space to our nostalgia. There may not be an immediate solution to the sorrows, but it helps immeasurably to know their contours and give ourselves a chance to square up to them. Our pains need a hearing. The more we think, the more our fears, resentments and hopes may become easier to name. We may become less scared of the contents of our minds. We may grow calmer, less resentful and clearer about our direction. 


November 2018

  • Rimmel launched #IWILLNOTBEDELETED, a campaign to fight cyberbullying. The Coty-owned makeup brand surveyed over 11,000 women aged 16-25 across 10 countries, and found that 1 in 4 have experienced cyberbullying, 46% of whom have gone on to self-harm. Launching on the Cybersmile website in 2019, a tool will guide users to approved local resources and organisations that can help those facing cyberbullying.  


August 2018

  • For The School of Life, the sublime grants us a perspective within which our own concerns are mercifully irrelevant. Bits of our egoism and pride seem less impressive. We may be moved to be more tolerant, less wrapped up in our own concerns. We’re reminded of our fragility and transient occupation of the world – which can move us to focus on what’s genuinely important, while there is still time. The Sublime foregrounds a sense of equality, which we can otherwise find it hard to hold onto. In the face of vast things, the grades of human status lose meaning.
  • We too often assume that we must accept the levels of confidence we currently possess. However, confidence is not a given: it is a quality we can learn about and develop in ourselves, argued The School of Life, who wants to remind us, for the sake of confidence, not to think too well of others; to learn to watch our tendencies to self-sabotage; to imagine strangers sitting in the bathroom; to speak to ourselves in kinder tones; and to remember that the greatest thing we should fear isn't messing up, but dying without having given it a go.


July 2018


June 2018

  • Evolution made it hard for humans to ask for help, suggests recent research. The fear of losing status within a community is hardwired into primate brains.