Let’s take a breather – How to maintain self-esteem for middle managers.

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I believe that those who work as middle managers face various problems, such as adjusting between superiors and subordinates and stress-related depression. In the midst of those problems, it is extremely important to maintain a sense of self-affirmation. In this article, I will introduce several exercises that incorporate Adlerian psychology. Please try them out and continue to maintain your sense of self-affirmation.



The current situation of middle management

Middle managers are in a position where they receive instructions from their superiors and give instructions to their subordinates. Therefore, they need to maintain a high level of performance at all times to meet their superiors’ expectations. They also need to be positive and cheerful to earn the trust of their subordinates. Especially in their 30s to 40s, they tend to have more responsibilities at home and in society, which may leave them with little time and leisure to enjoy their hobbies. In such a situation, some may become depressed due to stress.

A few years ago, I also changed jobs and became a manager, expected to advance in my career. However, I couldn’t meet my superiors’ expectations and was repeatedly scolded, which led me to make mistakes and lose the trust of my subordinates. As a result, I became depressed and had to go to a mental clinic for treatment.

To regain myself in such a state, I researched and came across Adlerian psychology.

Adlerian psychology is

Adlerian psychology is a type of psychology that aims for self-actualization by understanding and controlling one’s psychological structure. By incorporating work based on this theory, it is possible to increase self-esteem. When you have high self-esteem, you can recognize your own abilities and humanity, and deal with difficulties in a positive way.

Ways to increase self-esteem

The following goals can be achieved by doing the work, leading to an increase in self-esteem.

(1) Finding Your Strengths When you are able to find your good qualities, it gives you confidence in yourself. Think about your strengths. For example, “being good with people” or “being honest,” list as many as you can think of.

(2) Acknowledging Your Past Self You may blame yourself for mistakes or failures in the past. However, everyone makes mistakes. Recognize your past self and affirm your present self. This is an important step in increasing self-esteem.

1.Discovering your strengths and virtues

Mid-level managers produce a lot of results in their daily work.
However, do you sometimes take them for granted or compare yourself to others?
Finding your strengths and virtues is the first step in increasing self-esteem.

In Adlerian psychology, it is said that people have both “innate qualities” and “acquired qualities”.

Innate qualities refer to talents and traits that one is born with.
Acquired qualities refer to abilities and knowledge that one has gained through experience and effort.

Both innate and acquired qualities are unique to each individual and not the same as others. They represent one’s original combination to express their individuality. Therefore, let’s try answering the following questions.

-What are the talents and traits that you were born with?
-What are the skills and knowledge that you acquired through experience and effort?
-What are the things that you are often praised for at work?
-What are the things you enjoy doing or are good at outside of work?

Once you have the answers, let’s write them down on a piece of paper.
After writing them down, pick three from the list and say, “I am good at ________” or “One of my strengths is ________.”
For example,
“I am good at communication” or “One of my strengths is flexibility.”
By identifying and verbalizing your strengths and virtues, you can have a more positive self-perception.

2.Valuing your own emotions and needs.

suppressing their own emotions and needs?
Ignoring one’s own emotions and needs can lead to self-negation of one’s own worth.

To improve self-esteem, it is necessary to value one’s own emotions and needs.
According to Adlerian psychology, people can be happy by balancing their “social interest” and “personal interest.”

Social interest refers to contributing to others or society and cooperating with them.
Personal interest refers to fulfilling one’s own desires or goals and enjoying oneself.

Do you value your personal interests and needs as much as your social interests?
As a middle manager, do you sometimes prioritize social interests and overlook personal interests?
Let’s answer questions like these.

-What emotions are you feeling right now?
-What needs do you have right now?
-What do you want to do right now?
-What do you want right now?

When you have the answers, let’s write them down on paper.
From those, choose one by one and say, “I am feeling ~”, “I need ~”, “I want to do ~”, “I am wishing for ~”.
For example, “I am feeling anxious”, “I need a sense of security”, “I want to rest”, “I am wishing to be recognized”.
By finding and putting into words our emotions and needs, we can increase our self-respect.

3.Reflecting on your past successes and growth experiences.

Middle managers face many challenges and problems in their daily work.
However, it is effective to recall past successful experiences and growth processes in order to deal with them.
Reflecting on one’s own successes and growth processes is the first step in increasing self-esteem.

In Adlerian psychology, it is said that people behave based on unconscious beliefs and goals called “lifestyle”.
Lifestyle is formed from childhood to adolescence.
There are types of lifestyles such as “winner type”, “loser type”, and “avoidant type”.

-Winners evaluate their own abilities and worth highly, and make efforts toward achieving their goals.
-Losers evaluate their own abilities and worth low, and are passive towards achieving their goals.
-Runaways feel uncertain about their own abilities and worth, and are avoidant towards achieving their goals.

Lifestyle is formed based on unconscious beliefs and goals derived from past experiences and environment, but it is not fixed.
Reflecting on one’s own success and growth experiences can lead to changing one’s lifestyle.
So let’s try to answer the following questions.

-What have you achieved so far?
-What have you learned so far?
-What have you overcome so far?
-What have you been grateful for so far?

Once you have the answers, write them down on paper.
Then choose one at a time from among them and say, “I achieved ~,” “I learned ~,” “I overcame ~,” or “I’m grateful for ~.” For example, “I successfully completed a project,” “I learned leadership,” “I overcame a conflict,” and “I’m grateful for the cooperation of my subordinates.”
By reflecting on your own experiences of success and growth and putting them into words like this,
you deepen your trust in yourself.

The above introduces ways for middle managers to increase their self-esteem.
Self-esteem is not something that changes overnight.
It is important to find and articulate one’s strengths, qualities, emotions and needs, successes, and growth processes on a daily basis as a habit.


Managers in the middle of an organization can become happy not only at work but throughout their lives.
For that to happen, it is necessary to accept and respect yourself.

-Accepting and respecting oneself is a way to increase self-esteem.
-Increasing self-esteem improves work performance and interpersonal relationships.
-Improving work performance and interpersonal relationships reduces stress and anxiety.
-Reducing stress and anxiety increases health and well-being.
-Increasing health and well-being leads to happiness in life as a whole.

Self-esteem has a significant impact on the lives of all mid-level managers.
Please try the methods and exercises introduced in this blog.
Recognize your own worth and take a breath. You are a wonderful person.

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