I'm very interested in essentialism, as it's something I've struggled with. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on that.
The way I see it there are two ways to view yourself:
1. As an identity, an ego, self image, an essence. You ARE something and this is frozen, almost outside of time. Ever is, ever has been.
2. As a process, dispassionate observer, self narrative, a formless potential of nothingness. You can be described in operational terms by an observer in a particular time-space frame. You are not something static outside of time.
Over-reliance on model 1 can lead to shame if the mismatch between reality and blueprint is too great. An especially pernicious form is called toxic shame, as written about by Robert Glover and John Bradshaw.
Model 2 is much more resilient. Mismatch between reality and blueprint leads to guilt, which is superior to shame in that it can be rectified by action and repentance. Shame cannot be cured but by death (of the ego or the body). Guilt is about what I do, shame is about what who I am. This is what I suppose Aristotle meant by "you are what you repeatedly do" - it's an entry into a longstanding metaphysical debate about the essence of things.
Something related is the two levels of confidence:
Explicit confidence. Basically your cognitive programming around problem solving and dealing with life's challenges. You can be good at getting things done or figuring out your inner state via metacognition, and this leads to confidence. This is where a lot of personal development aims at.
Implicit confidence. Your deep sense of value, goodness and permission to exist. You can either plug in model 1 or model 2 here, with different results. Buddhism obviously aims to make the deep confidence purely model 2 via vanquishing of the ego.
A mismatch between implicit and explicit confidence coupled with model 1 can lead to loser-mode ("I am worthless") or psycho over-achievement ("I must prove myself and be the best!"). The latter CAN be beneficial to the world at large which is why I do somewhat approve of model 1. A healthy dose of narcissism CAN do good things for the world.
Reading certain blogs I see this pattern of overachievement clear as day. Don't mean any offence to anyone, I have the same "problem" and that's why I can identify it in others. I also do see a great deal of model 2 humility in the same guys, though.