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self-esteem

Find Yourself, Not Someone Else

Find yourself; not someone else.  It may be admirable to have a child or even children who are like you and follow in your footsteps; but he or she or they may not be comfortable in your shoes.  In times past, it was important for people to have children so they could pick up where they left off.  Parents trained their children to take their place someday and to be of help to them in a labor intensive time.  Parents usually were not happy if their children did not take over for them.

Now it is more a matter of self-validation.  It confirms to the parent that he or she took the right path when the children take the same path.  Sometimes it is like the story of the ugly duckling.  Remember that one turned out to be a swan, different, but beautiful.  You can feel like the ugly duckling if you don’t fit into your family, class in school, or community.  Some children like the ugly duckling even look different from the people that they are being raised with when if they were being raised with their own genetically kind (people who would probably look like them) wouldn’t look different at all.  Down syndrome children and some biracial children are even often seen as different from their relatives.

English: Vilhelm Pedersen illustration for &qu...

English: Vilhelm Pedersen illustration for “Ugly Duckling” in public domain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you study genetics and how traits are passed down from parent to child, you will often find that it is a very complex problem and doesn’t always work the way it seems it should.  Children can have the same parents and have surprisingly different traits.  This is also true of apptitudes and abilities.  Add into this what happens to them from the time of conception to birth which may not be like their siblings and the children and their parents will still be related; but can be very different.  Also traits may get passed down, but not to the desired child or sex (like first born male).

Children inherit tempraments which may or may not be like that of their parents.  Sometimes oil and water do not mix.  An “easy” parent may inherit a slow to warm up child and he or she can’t understand why his or her child does not easily take to new things.

Some talents or abilities which might be very strong can not be desired or appreciated in the family or society into which a person is born.  I was born on a farm and eventually married a farmer (after doing other things) and I can understand why he sometimes does not understand why a “city” boy does not know how to do things farm boys know how to do and he has difficulty valuing what the “city” boy can do by virtue of his college education even if it was not in agriculture.

As much as I love flowers,  I don’t want them to be all alike all the time.  I like seeing new and different ones.  Also some flowers that some people call flowers around here are called weeds by other people in other places.  This might even be true of people growing marijuana when flowers appear in their plots.  (I am not recommending that  you start growing marijuana however.)

Be yourself as long as you are not deliberately hurting yourself (or others for your own gain) and when you find yourself, you will make your contribution to the world and become what YOU were or are meant to be.  I believe finding yourself is why we were meant to be as we each have our own contribution to make.  If we pay too much attention to what others tell us we should be, we may get led astray.  It may not be easy, but it often will be rewarding.  For example, how many shoes at how many shoe stores do some of us have to try before we find a shoe that fits us, feels good, and wears well.  It usually is a personal thing.  What shoe style works for one may not work for another.  Also many people, especially women, pay the price for wearing shoes that they think they should wear because they are in fashion, etc.  (Check out Oprah on this issue.)

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Love-Hate Relationships

Hate to Love You

Hate to Love You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost any relationship can be a love-hate relationship.  The more time you spend being judgmental, the less time you have to be accepting.  It is a shame that people respond so negatively to judgmental comments by others.  Other people want to get a reaction out of you.  Do they do it by building you up or by tearing you down?

The more time you spend criticizing and trying to control others the less time you have to love and admire them.  Children bask in the love of friends and family.  When does this stop?  Have you ever been asked why can’t you control your kids and then jumped on their case, that of your children, not of the person complaining.  Who do you value most?  Other people? or your children?

No I would not suggest that you let children run all over you; but the younger they are, the more pure are their motives.  Do you often make them feel like they have just committed a crime especially when you are stressed, not necessarily by them?  More negativity just adds to the problem if the person or child was happy until they were judged negatively, how do you think they would feel after?

Some people say that indifference is stronger than hate.  If you just don’t care enough to say anything good or bad about a person anymore, where does that person rate in terms of your concern about them.  How lonely and unwanted does a person feel when he or she is thinking about suicide?

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Your Own Bragging Rights

achievementself-loveDo you have your own bragging rights?  I’ve been afraid to have them.  The higher up you go, the farther you can fall.  That’s what I have always been told.  “The meek will inherit the earth,” is another one.  How about, “Be all you can be-in the Army.”  If we all live up to our God-given or inborn potential, will there be anything left for anybody else?  Potentially we can be or do almost everything if we want to.  We may not have the time in this lifetime to do it all.  But I would love to be able to pick and choose.  Parents say they want their children to do it better and have it better than they have.  But aren’t you the parent just a little bit jealous of your own child when this actually happens?

Sometimes the only bragging rights parents have are about their children and grandchildren.  Could it be like second hand smoke?  Everywhere around you and you can’t help breathing it in; but it does you no good.  Parents sometimes work themselves to death in order for their kids to have it better than they did and often the children do not appreciate what has been done for them.  Part of the problem has been that very rarely does the child want to do or have the exact same thing that the parent wants.  Do it yourself, don’t put everything off or postpone starting your life til after the children are gone.  Especially if you have done a lot for your kids, they may still be depending on you when they should be out on their own or worst yet, they expect you to do the exact same thing as you did for them for their kids.  Too much is too much and enough is enough.

Alright already.  Do your children make plans and share confidences that don’t include you?  You know they are having a good time; but you aren’t.  Are you missing out on something?  Create your own experiences, celebrate your own successes, develop your own tastes and appetite for adventure and success as you see it.  Develop your own bragging rights for things that you have or are doing that promote you.  Maybe it is not so bad to search for and find your own purpose in life or thrive on your own accomplishments.

Not only should you do something well, you should want to shine at it and you should try to do it better than even you expected.  Start now.  Don’t wait for an empty nest (or even to be widowed) or it may be too late then.  Exercise your bragging rights now especially to yourself by saying all those things you would like to hear.  Compliments are made, not born, and may not come easily when applied to oneself.  If we fear success and don’t even dare hope that we will do something spectacular, we leave room for others to do what we could do for ourselves.  Wives and mothers, do you wait til everyone else’s needs are to take any or do you not assert yourself because, it didn’t matter anyway and it keeps the peace.

Who are you?  Have you forgotten?  Have you discovered your hidden talents or have not done anything with them because you don’t think you are worth it? or don’t really have any talent as compared to other people you know who have done it?

The most highly defended is the greatest asset.  That’s why Rocket Risks (Motor Mouth Publishing) are worth it.
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A Balance Theory Of Self-Esteem

I aselfesteemthinktoohighlyofselfm writing about the balance theory of self-esteem  because I did my thesis on it (but under another name).  High self-esteem exists when a person is able to take a balanced objective view of themselves of both the good things and the bad things about them and the successes and the failures they have had.  Defensive low self-esteem exists when a person only sees their successes as amounting to anything and overlooks or denies their failures.  The scale is over-balanced as far as they are concerned in favor of the “good” things that have happened to them and the things they have accomplished or succeeded at.  To most people,  low self-esteem exists when people discount the good things about them and the good things they have done and over emphasize the bad ones.  Both types of people with the two kinds of low self-esteem are not balanced in their views of themselves leading them to not see themselves in a realistic way and to their not having real high self-esteem.  It was measured by determining how often people chose on a self-esteem test to accept good and bad things about themselves.  They were then put in groups where they were given praise or criticism and it was determined how it effected them depending on their level of self-esteem.

Where do you fall on the balance theory of self-esteem.  Concentrating too much on failures or successes can put you out of balance in terms of self-esteem.  Do you have an inner critic who stops you from doing things (where you might have a chance of succeeding) or do you have a difficult time accepting constructive criticism?  Do you over rate or undervalue yourself?

I recommend that those of you who have low self-esteem with a “downer” point of view of yourself compose a list of compliments that you never got and give them to yourself once a day.  Ideally make list and put them on note cards and put one of them everyday where you can see it and remind yourself regularly of truly how great you are.  Better yet read them out loud and look at yourself straight in the face (use a mirror to do this).

If you have defensive high self-esteem, you truly are afraid of getting hurt which is what admitting that you were wrong about something would do to you.  Try writing a list of those things people have told you or are telling you that you need to change.  Everyday take one of these criticisms and consider it as if it were true.  What would that mean to you?  Consider that it might mean that other people would like you better.

Success and failure are close cousins.  They always keep company with each other.  Where one is the other is not far behind.  How many “successful” people live in fear that one day they will fail and lose it all.  How many one time “failures” learn from their failures and become successes?

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Over rated? Undervalued?

Passenger oxygen mask deployment

Passenger oxygen mask deployment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you over rated? undervalued?  By whom?  Yourself?  Family?  Society? People at work?  Your friends?  Stop and think.  What is your potential?  Are you thinking right now that the people who overvalue themselves or who are over rated by others are not reading this now?

Take a good look at yourself.  Who do you invest the most time in?  Yourself? Others?  Have you been encouraged to put others first? or do you put yourself first?  Remember the advice given on airplanes to parents, “Put your oxygen mask on first or you might not be able to help your child put on theirs.”

There is a name for those who obviously put themselves first most of the time and that is narcissists.  What do we call people who put themselves last?  Co dependents.  For them, everything depends on taking care of someone else’s problems.  Look up both categories.  Where do you fit?  Hopefully in neither category.  That is taking it to extremes.

There is such a thing as healthy putting yourself first and there is unhealthy putting yourself first.  Helping others rather than ourselves can lead to the unhealthy attitude that nobody cares about us.  Treat yourself and treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Make an example of yourself.  Do you wait for somebody else to do it for you?  Or do you never ever ask for help?  Remember those crime scenes where nobody helped the victim although they were witnesses to the crime?

Think for yourself.  Are you over rated or undervalued?  Do you over rate or undervalue others?  Do you undervalue others to the point that you only miss them when they are gone?  Do you so over rate yourself that nobody else really has such a high opinion of you.  Truly highly rated people are often humble.  Come look at yourself in the mirror .  What do you really see?  What do others see?  Does the image reflect back the true you.  Over rating or undervaluing yourself both come from the same place, low self-esteem.  Think about that.  The next post will be about the balance theory of self-esteem.

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Writing Your Life History

painting 'Newspapers, Letters and Writing Impl...

painting ‘Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements on a Wooden Board’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing your life history can make it clear what the influences in your life have been and how they have effected you.  I did that the other day and realized when I read through it, it was mostly negative.  I was passing judgment on myself and my life and I wasn’t being kind.  I was telling the truth but I left out the good things that happened in my life.

Writing your life history can remake your present life either better or worse.  Focusing on all the bad things that happened to me like being depressed just made me more depressed.  There are two things you can do.  Remake your life story by telling it in a new and different way by focusing on the good things, your accomplishments, your blessings (especially the things you take for granted), and all the little (not so big) things people have done for you.  If you are lucky, you may already have written your life story this way.

Writing your life history and writing about what you would liked to have happened can create a new you.  Armed with your positive life story, you can recreate and develop the new you.  Who you might have been if things turned out differently.  What is holding you back from being that person now?  We are always in the present and often waste time bemoaning our past difficulties and worrying about the future which is not here yet.  Yes, it does pay to be prepared and to learn from your mistakes; but why belabor the topics of what if’s, might have been’s, and what could happen.  When we do this we lose sight of the present, we ignore the beauty of the world, the kindnesses that other people show us, and what we can do now.

Join me in this process by writing your life history and gaining some perspective on it.

 

 

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Guilt Holding You Back Or Making Things Worse?

Do you continually do things that you know deep down are wrong, but you can’t stop doing them because some part of you says that if you change your behavior you are admitting that you did something wrong in the first place?  Take teasing for example, do you go on teasing somebody even after it is obvious that it makes them uncomfortable or even emotionally upset.  Saying things to yourself like, “They shouldn’t be such a baby about things like that”, “They need to grow up:  “It toughens them up”,  “They should be able to take things like that in stride.”  “It was just a joke”  They took it too seriously”  Doing things like that indicates a disrespect of others and deep down the person who does this doesn’t want to admit that they are wrong and thus in

Myllissa-Oscar the tabby cat teasing a baby-01

Myllissa-Oscar the tabby cat teasing a baby-01 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

sensitive.  Have you ever gone to far in pulling a joke or teasing somebody because even though you knew it was hurting them because you didn’t want to seem like a jackass?  Are your feelings more important than those of the person you are teasing.  We have all been guilty of that; I have.  I once told a girl in front of some other girls that she looked like Bozo the Clown.  Insensitive?  Yes!  Reflecting my own insecurities?  True!  At the time, I couldn’t see why it wasn’t funny.  My only excuse is that I was only about ten years old at the time.

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Guilt And How It Sidetracks Forgiveness

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

Did you ever think about how guilt sidetracks you and keeps you from forgiving yourself?  Many people have difficulty forgiving themselves if they feel guilty about something.  This can be a tremendous burden to bear and it prevents many people from letting go and moving on.  Many people feel that in order to be forgiven that the slate must be wiped clean and the alleged transaction forgotten.  If they can’t forgive themselves and forget, why should anybody else forgive them?

For some people to admit that they might have done something wrong destroys their self-esteem and makes them feel valueless.  They are their own worst critics and to say that they did something wrong can be self-destructive.  Having done a lot of psychotherapy in my life and having been in psychotherapy, the things that are the hardest to admit are the things that we can’t stop feeling guilty about.  Often therapy reaches a stumbling block when one of these issues needs to be brought up.

Sometimes people admit that they secretly are their own worst critics.  Then it follows that if they beat themselves up about something, that other people should tell them that what they did was not so bad after all.  When this isn’t true, therapy often can’t move forwards.  The pain of the self-remorse is so great that they feel that no one would ask them to take the next step forward and say that what they did, thought, or said was egregious.  They think how can anybody love me if I did that if I can’t forgive and love myself?

What is worst is that sometimes in order unconsciously to prove that what they did was not that bad, they continue to do it.  Thereby burying themselves deeper and deeper in the morass of guilt and self-blame.  Take sexual harassment for example, the person involved can’t conceive of themself as a careless cad so they don’t change their behavior.  It was just a joke or something that all girls ask for by their behavior or form of dress.  They don’t realize that the buck stops with themselves no matter who the other person is or what the other person does.  Anyway it is just their perception of the other person that they are responding to and it may actually be schewed.

There is no one here on earth (except Christ, who is here only in spirit, but not in the flesh like the rest of us) who is blameless and self-sacrificing.  Mother Teresa admitted to faults and she was always working on them.  I am sure Pope Francis would say something much the same.

The key to changing this behavior is forgiving yourself and once this is done the repetition compulsion loses it’s steam.   This also makes it easier to forgive others when you realize that in some ways you are no different from them.  In Christianity, God offers forgiveness for people’s sins but often people don’t accept it because that would involve admitting that they really did something wrong.  Forgiveness is free; accepting it is personal choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who’s Your Inner Voice? Part I

Having discussed mind chatter before, now I want to know,  Who’s your inner voice?” Parent, teacher, minister, God, the devil?  Your friends and/or neighbors.  Family members besides your parents?  When you talk to yourself, do you become your inner voice or do you have to do it out loud?  Interesting idea isn’t it?

Who’s your inner voice?  If it is not you, then it is someone else like I said above.  Why do you let somebody else tell you what to do when it is you who will suffer the consequences?  Doing what you are told to do by that inner voice may save you some grief or it may not save you some grief.  If you constantly repeat in your head what somebody else has told you, is this benefiting you or that person.

Who’s your inner voice?  Have you thought about it and come up with an answer?  Did you choose that inner voice?  Does it benefit you?  Please don’t just believe that because the voice comes from inside your head that it is really saying what you need to hear.  Our parents, our peers, may have less than good intentions when they tell you something and it sticks in your head and tells you to do something for your own good?  Think for yourself.  What really do you need to do for your own good?

Who’s your inner voice?  Is it positive or negative?  Negative voices whether anger, fear, self-despairaging comments are things that get you in to trouble, lower your self-esteem, and may even make you think you wish you were dead are not in your best interest.  Guilt, shame, etc. can work against you if you continue to voice them even after the incident has passed and you have made amends if any were necessary.

Who’s your inner voice.  Does it egg you on, promote behavior that will harm you or others?  Adolescents often have an imaginary audience who they perceive as judging their behavior.  They also may believe things that are not true (personal myths) that support beliefs that will put them in harm’s way.  For example, they think they are invincible.

Inner voices can be positive.  You may have grown to trust them.  When you are about to give up, they keep you going.  More about who’s your inner voice next time.

children-innervoicejpg

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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, Our Shadow Selves

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a well-known...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a well-known spaghetti western (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of ourselves are reflected back to us in the mirror of life.  We all have shadow selves.  They are parts of ourselves that we often deny having.  When we are vehemently for something or against something.  This tells a lot about ourselves, especially what we are against.  What we are against reflects what we fear exists in ourselves, our shadow selves.  Read more about this in a book by Debbie Ford, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.

What you absolutely can’t stand in someone else is what you absolutely can’t stand in yourself.  Control freak, narcissist, homosexual, you name it.  Anything that you dislike and can’t tolerate represents one of your shadow selves.  It is something that you fear that you might be or become.

Take the middle way as Buddha said.  Don’t give over all control to others and resent it.  Don’t always take control away from others and be hated for it.  Do everything in moderation.  Respect not only yourself, respect others too.    Spread love around but don’t forget to love yourself as well.

 

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