Category Archives: Isolation

Self-Esteem (Part 2)

In my last post, I talked about some events that we all go through in life: (1) when we notice that we are different, (2) when we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, (3) when we face rejection and failure, (4) and when others put us down. These are all normal parts of life. Whatever thoughts you meditate on about yourself, though, can shape your self-esteem. In this post, I’ll discuss some of the common unhealthy ways we might think about ourselves.

When we notice we are different, negativity may sound like this: “The way I am is unacceptable,” “I need to be like them in order to be acceptable.” These beliefs will cause you to try to make changes to yourself when change is not necessary. If you are rewarded with a feeling of acceptance after giving into this lie, that’s not good. The act of changing then becomes your defense mechanism and you can become dependent on this unnecessary activity. Your personal sense of acceptance from doing this will only last a short time before your core belief about your differences resurfaces and you go back to thinking “the way I am is unacceptable.”

When we notice the gap between where we are now and where we would like to be, negativity may sound like this: “I am not good enough the way I am,” “I need to reach this point in my life to be good enough.” Although self-improvement is a good thing, these unforgiving beliefs will cause you to overexert yourself, possibly to the point of workaholism, and for most of the time, you won’t feel good about yourself.

Next, rejection and failure. Yes, a lot of times, not always, we experience rejection and failure because we may not be good enough in our abilities. But a lot of people, in the face of rejection and failure, think “I’m not good enough… as a person.” Thinking like this is unhealthy. With this kind of thinking, you develop a dependence on acceptance and success to give you a sense of worth. Perfectionism also results from not learning how to be ok with rejection and failure.

And finally, there are times when others just straight-up put you down. Who are they to sum you up and judge your value as a person? But if you believe the negative judgments about yourself, it will break down your self-esteem.

In my previous post, I mentioned that habitually thinking negatively about yourself could lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. There’s a lot more. You’ll be dependent on your different control mechanisms to regulate your sense of worth. You’ll think you deserve less or more in life by how your performance fluctuates. You won’t be able to help but judge the value of others in the same twisted way you judge your own value. And you’ll be less happy. It sucks.

So how do we turn this around? You’ll have to wait for my next post.

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Self-Esteem

We are all different from one another. We look different from one another. Our body metabolizes food differently. Our brain works differently. We experience the outside world and our emotions differently. We both outrun and lag a little behind the average population in different areas. These are just differences we all have.

 

Every one of us also has a vision of what it might look like to be the best version of ourselves. It’s very similar to the vision of utopia I talked about in my last post. Because of this vision, we may notice a gap between where we are now and where we would like to be.

No matter how great you are, no matter how hard you try, you may get many doors slammed in your face, experience many failures, and be put down by others

These four things, (1) our differences, (2) this gap, (3) rejection and failures, and (4) being put down by others are all normal parts of life. No matter how normal they are, though, sometimes they make us feel bad emotionally. And when we feel bad, we are more vulnerable to thinking bad.

These are some negative thoughts that might follow: “I’m not good enough (worth),” “I need to create my worth like they did,” “I’m not beautiful,” “I need to look like them,” “Something is wrong with me,” “The way I am right now is unacceptable.”

Like I mentioned already in my post about the addiction to negativity, if you keep on meditating on these negative thoughts again and again, you can become addicted to thinking in that way about yourself. When you get to this point like I did at one point in my life, you become increasingly imprisoned by your low self-esteem, social anxiety, and perfectionism. And this is NOT where you want your thoughts to take you.

In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the common ways so many of us try to ineffectively fix this problem. To finish off this series, I’ll probably end off with explaining how to think positively about yourself.

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Psychology of Utopia

All of us have a different vision of utopia. Why are they different? Well, I like the story of the blind men examining an elephant. Our understanding may be limited to the parts of the “elephant” that we’ve touched.

Let’s say one of those blind men is Ned flanders. Ned Flanders is a Christian. His utopia is called “heaven.” Heaven is all about abundance and freedom from missing the bulls-eye. Let’s bring Lisa Simpson in. She’s a feminist and a vegan. Her utopia is one of gender equality and the ethical treatment of animals. Let’s bring Brian Griffin in. He’s an atheist whose utopian world has no religion or unscientific thinking. And finally, Stewie Griffin. His utopia is one of world domination, where he is the ruler over all people.

When these characters look at the world that they live in, they notice that the actual state of the world falls pretty far below their vision of utopia. They see all the laws, systems, and all kinds of obstacles that hinder the world from reaching their own vision of utopia. No matter who you are, this gap causes an unpleasant feeling. It can even bring up emotions of anger.

So let’s say all these characters are a bit disgruntled because of the gap that they sense. Naturally, you want to get rid of this bad feeling as soon as you can, right? So what many people do, which is actually not the healthiest thing for you to do in the long-run, is to try to immediately close this gap. As I have already explained in my post on perfectionism, this is a mechanism of escape. And the more you escape again and again from this emotion that is a normal part of life, you will forego the opportunity to build up your tolerance for this difficult feeling.

Another thing that you might be doing in attempt to close your own gap is mocking, shaming, and criticizing others who are going against your vision of utopia. While this might work, I assure you that this strategy is not very effective. As a professional motivational speaker, I can say that positivity motivates people much more effectively. Mocking, shaming, and criticizing others only isolates you and hurts others.

So what do you do instead?

Think positively and defer your gratification. Believe that everything will be ok. Let go of control and stop thinking that it’s all on you to make the world a better place.

I do have something to say to some Christians, though. Don’t think so negatively about our values being opposed and redefined. It was never these values on their own that made the biggest change in people’s hearts anyway. It was Jesus’ extravagant love. So give more of that extravagant love instead. And right now is not the time for you to give your input. Ask yourself, “where was I when the gay community felt rejected?” “Was I there to show them love?” If not, and if the gay community is not asking for your input, it’s definitely not the time to share your values in their time of celebration.

Whether you’re a theist or an atheist, whether you’re a feminist or vegan or whatever, don’t be a jerk. Think positively and be nice to others.

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Forgiveness

Resentment is the addiction to thinking negatively about others. To successfully break any addiction, you have to do two things: you have to (1) build up a different pattern and (2) give yourself some healthy boundaries to prevent relapse. It’s no different when it comes to freeing yourself from resentment. You have to just stop it. Stop thinking negatively about others. Stop replaying in your head what people did to you. Stop keeping track of your losses and the people who were responsible for them. Stop meditating on how worse off you are now because of all those who hurt you. Stop fantasizing about the elaborate revenge that you would like to take out on your enemies.

What do you do instead?

Well, first you have to learn how to deal with anger in a healthy way. Many people have built up a pattern of immediately going into their head when they’re angry. In their head, they then meditate on negative thoughts that intensify their anger which causes them to go right back into their head with more negative thoughts, and it just goes on and on. Instead of so quickly going into your head, learn how to stop, recognize “hey, what I’m feeling right now is anger,” and then just feel this emotion and let it pass. By exposing yourself to the emotion of anger and not doing anything else, you will build up your tolerance for this uncomfortable emotion. You’ll get used to it. And you won’t have to keep on going into your head.

Secondly, forgive those who wronged you. Forgiveness is just letting go of your hurtful past. It does not require your wrongdoers to say, “Hey, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” No, what if the person you hold resentment against is dead? Do you expect him to come back to life and ask you for forgiveness? No, forgiveness is not dependent on them, what they ask, or even their understanding of the pain that they inflicted upon you. Forgiveness is only dependent on you and whether or not you choose to let it go.

So let’s say you are contemplating the idea of forgiveness. Here are some of the common negative thoughts that will follow and try to convince you that it is not a good idea. “They don’t deserve it.” What? It’s not about them. It’s about you and the emotional freedom that you deserve. “If they’re let off so easily without punishment, they’ll never learn and the world would be worse off.” That’s thinking pretty negatively there. How about trusting that everything will be ok and, in the meantime, resolving your own resentment which would make the world a better place. “My hate fuels me to work hard until the day that my success makes them regret what they did to me. Without my hate, I wouldn’t have as much determination.” No, you don’t know that. Actually, people work much more effectively, efficiently, and come up with more creative solutions when they are pulled by love rather than pushed by hate and anxiety. “If I don’t keep track of all the ways that people hurt me, I will get hurt in the same way again and again.” Hey, maybe you might get hurt again in the same way. But that’s ok. Keeping track won’t protect you from getting hurt again. We live in an imperfect world with a bunch of imperfect people. So don’t listen to those garbage thoughts. Forgiveness is a very good idea.

A lot of people confuse forgiveness with making excuses for others. But they are not the same. Making excuses for others is a coping mechanism called “rationalization.” Forgiveness, on the other hand, doesn’t make excuses for others. It says, “What you did to me was wrong and I didn’t deserve it. Still, I choose to let go.”

And finally, as a bonus step for those who really want greater happiness and healthier relationships, you have to build a new pattern of thinking positively about others at all times, even when they let you down.

In my next post, I’ll go into greater detail about this last step as well as how you can use rationalization in a healthy way.

NOTE: I forgot to mention that, after forgiveness, you don’t have to be buddies.

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Resentment and Forgiveness

In my last post titled “OCPD Depression,” I wrote about how people with OCPD can easily become addicted to thinking negatively about life. In much of the same way that this happens, people with OCPD can also become addicted to thinking negatively about other people.

Resentment is another one of the more common addictions that people with OCPD are likely to struggle with.

Resentment

Getting upset by other people is a normal part of life. For people with OCPD, this just happens more frequently and intensely than it does for others because of OCPD high standards and sensitivity. Those who are upset by others can then choose to let their upset mood take its course and move on without making any negative judgments or choose to condemn the people who caused them to get upset. Although many people do end up choosing the latter option, people with OCPD must be very disciplined to not do such a thing because of the way that their mind works.

Judging others is very dangerous for people with OCPD because their obsessive mind runs so extremely fast. In a span of an hour, a thought that arises twice in the mind of a “regular” person might loop 2000 times in the mind of a person with OCPD (the same thing happens with the OCD mind). This repetition creates pathways in the brain that turn passing thoughts into deep-rooted truths.

This would not be such a serious problem if people with OCPD judged accurately. But anyone who thinks in black-and-white is far from judging accurately. All-or-nothing thinking causes people with OCPD to judge others as being all good or all bad (mostly all bad because the majority of the world falls below their high standards). When these all bad judgments become deep-rooted truths, people with OCPD fall into resentment.

Many people with OCPD carry resentment against the people that they spend the majority of their time with. Sadly, these people are also usually the ones who care for them the most. This is tragically unfair. People with OCPD need to be more wary of their thoughts and not let the addiction to resentment destroy their most important relationships. I personally believe the marriage vows of people with OCPD and OCD should include the additional lines, “I promise to protect and honour our relationship through my thoughts. I will be vigilant in guarding my mind from making any negative judgments against you.”

It is also not so uncommon for people with OCPD to carry resentment against entire people groups, countries, and God. This usually happens as a result of continued use of generalizations in their reasoning.

Like all other addictions, resentment is very difficult to break. Neither distance nor death frees people from this addiction. Even though I had cut off all of our ties, even though I had traveled all over the world and lived in different countries, even though I had met other women who treated me so much better than she ever did, even after seven years had passed since our break-up, I had so much difficulty letting go of my resentment against one of my ex-girlfriends who hurt me so deeply. Justification (“it is understandable you did what you did to me because insert reason here“) also does not break the addiction of resentment. It is, however, a favourite psychological strategy used by people with OCPD to temporarily alleviate their negativity and kid themselves that they have forgiven those who have wronged them. Justification is like putting a bandage over a spreading wound.

Forgiveness is what breaks the addiction to resentment. Unlike justification, forgiveness does not try to make excuses for the wrongdoer. Forgiveness says, “You wronged me so bad. I did not deserve it. But I will choose to let go of my urge to condemn you for it.” In order to prevent relapse, resentment addicts must then work very hard at not letting a single resentful thought (against people) to grow in their mind. This is similar to how recovered alcoholics refrain from even having a sip of beer. Many people with OCPD struggle so much with forgiveness because they keep on taking “sips” of resentful thoughts.

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