Tag Archives: self-esteem

Self-Esteem (Part 3)

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about self-esteem. Today, I’m going to finish off this topic with “how to think about yourself.”

 

First thing you have to do is break any habit of thinking negatively about yourself. Trying to work on your self-esteem without doing this necessary step, is like trying to get 6-pack abs through vigorous exercise without cutting out your consumption of junk food. The big difference is, even a little taste of negative thinking will not add any happiness to your life. This first step is not easy to do because many of us are addicted and we keep on relapsing. Cut negativity out of your life cold-turkey and rewire your brain to think positively about yourself in all circumstances.

When you notice that you are different, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I am wholly acceptable,” “I am beautiful just the way I am.”

Next, when you notice the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be, believe and meditate on the thoughts “I have incredible intrinsic worth now,” “I am good enough as a person now,” “Maybe not so immediately, but I will reach my goals.” And meditate on the same thoughts when you face rejection, failure, and others just straight-up put you down.

“Yeah that’s a nice, fluffy concept, Daniel. But how am I supposed to believe that I have incredible worth if everything around me tells me that I don’t?”

This is where perspective comes in. You have to ask yourself, “why do the things around me that tell me that I don’t have value” matter? “Why is it easier to not take it so seriously when I am put down by a toddler who doesn’t know me at all VS when I am put down by an adult who knows me very well?” It is because we think the adult knows more, that the adult is more intelligent, that the adult has more experience and understanding to judge more accurately. Now, as long as you believe that adults, including yourself, have the greatest ability to judge accurately, your view of yourself will always be vulnerable to the judgment of humans.

But what if you were able to really stretch your imagination. What if you were to believe that there possibly might be an entity that has an even greater ability to judge accurately than humankind… that this entity, being omniscient, knows everything about you, even all the things you try to hide from everyone else. And still, this higher being finds so much value in you, regardless of your performance. A good human parent may love his or her child whether or not the child colours within the lines. What if this higher power loves you and finds great value in you even when you don’t “colour within the lines” in life.

This is what I choose to believe in and it has given me so much freedom in my life.

What you choose to believe about yourself, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your self-esteem.

 

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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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The Most Important Thing about Raising Gifted Children

It can be very exciting for parents to discover that their child is “gifted.” Often what follows this excitement is a keen interest in creating a stimulating educational environment for the child. Parents, however, can easily get so wrapped up in trying to maximize the potentiality of their child that they neglect to develop the very thing that he or she needs most.

The most valuable lesson that parents can teach gifted children is that they have value and worth apart from how well they perform.

Baby Einstein

Sufficiently stimulating the minds of gifted children should be the least of parents’ worries. Even without their parents’ help, gifted children will find creative ways to keep themselves entertained and intellectually stimulated. Parents may try to implement incentives to help their children maximize their motivation to learn, but there really is nothing that can do a better job at that than the deep curiosity that is already within every gifted child.

Regardless of the kind of educational environment they grow up with, gifted children are born to excel. They will inevitably outperform their peers in one or more areas in their life and attract a lot of attention and praise from others. While this might sound quite promising, the constant highlighting of their performance is likely to cause gifted children to build their identity and self-worth on their outcomes, results, and achievements, all highly fallible external qualities. This is no good.

The self-esteem of models suffers in a very similar fashion. Model Cameron Russell shares in her TED talk that, despite having won a “genetic lottery” (2:50), she and many other models are some of the “most physically insecure women probably on the planet” (8:27).

Giftedness and insecurity is a dangerous combination. Gifted people (including models that are, in a way, “gifted” in their appearance) who do not know that they have value and worth apart from how well they perform will feel immense pressure to create their own value and worth in the area that they are gifted in. For those with extreme emotional sensitivity, which pretty much includes the whole gifted population, that pressure to create value and worth magnifies exponentially. So many insecure gifted people are consequently driven to workaholism and perfectionism. Success then becomes a dangerous reward that justifies their unbalanced lifestyle. Broken relationships, broken families and marriages, health complications, disease, insanity, and even early death are all consequences of this unbalanced lifestyle.

HOW TO BUILD STRONG IDENTITY IN GIFTED CHILDREN (PARENTS):
Whether you like it or not, the world will take notice of the greatness within your child. They will compliment your child for his or her performance. If your own compliments and positive words of affirmation do not outweigh and outnumber the compliments given by the world, the world will usurp your position as your child’s primary teacher in building his or her identity. You need to take that position because, unlike the rest of the world, you KNOW your child personally and you know that he or she is not just the sum of his or her talents. There will be a huge competition for your child’s attention as he or she attempts to figure out who he or she is. You as a caring parent need to win that competition. You must teach your child that he or she is amazing, regardless of what he or she does or does not do. When you are just taking a stroll in the park together, when your child is not performing, you need to tell your child that you are so proud of him or her, that you love him or her so much, that he or she fascinates you just for BEING the person that he or she is. If your gifted child performs poorly in some area, sure it is totally ok to admit and accept the reality and consequences of poor performance. But if he or she is thinking, “I am not good enough as a person” because of his or her poor performance, you need to intervene. You must teach your child that his or her performance does not define him or her. You must remind your child of who he or she is: an amazing person with incredible value. If you (parents) do not know your own value apart from how well you perform, it will be very difficult to raise your own children in this manner.

HOW I BUILT MY SELF-ESTEEM:
Despite my many achievements and talents, I was once an over-achieving workaholic who struggled with extremely low self-esteem. Despite being published in newspapers and magazines and broadcasted on TV and radio, I was once so afraid of ending up as a nobody, a worthless loser. It was when I finally decided to stop trusting my own thoughts and opinions about myself and the thoughts and opinions of all the people around me, including my very performance-oriented parents, that things began to change. Ever since mid-2011, I started to care for and listen to only what God thinks about me. Since my own idea of God was so distorted at the time, I depended on other people in my church to accurately share with me His thoughts about me. People I met for the first time that could not have known such personal details about me told me specific character traits in me that God is so pleased with. They continually told me that God loves me so much and is so proud of me, all during a time in my life when I had hit rock bottom and did absolutely nothing. As I began to more accurately understand how big God is and how small humankind is compared to Him, the significance of His opinion about me grew and the significance of humankind’s opinion about me shrank. My self-esteem now is so good! I have learned to love myself and be so proud of myself, not because of how well I perform, but simply because I am a beloved child of the Most High 🙂

MORE READING

This is one of my favourite Christian children’s books on performance and identity.

“You Are Special” by Max Lucado

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Self-Esteem

As mentioned in my previous post titled “Discernment and Judgment,” people with OCPD can be quite judgmental when their gift for discernment is poisoned by all-or-nothing thinking. Their judgments can be so damaging that those who listen to them on a frequent basis are often left with their identity confused and self-esteem lowered.

People who are on the receiving end of frequent OCPD judgments should discount all all-or-nothing attacks made against their identity in order to preserve their own self-esteem.

A common story that I hear again and again is that of people coming out of a relationship with an OCPD partner more broken than they were before. This unfortunate outcome is most likely due to having listened to the all-or-nothing judgments of people with OCPD for far too long.

Those closest to people with OCPD must be vigilant in critically analyzing their judgments. No matter how true they might sound, recipients of their judgments need to recognize that OCPD judgments are in fact inaccurate because of their all-or-nothing thinking. Simply put, do not listen to any negative judgments from a person with OCPD.

When people with OCPD are attacked by their own judgments, most of them defend themselves in a very harmful way. Instead of saying to themselves, “No, I am not a failure! Look at who I am,” most will say, “No, I am not a failure! Look at what I have done!”

Many people with OCPD fall for this trap because they often do have an impressive portfolio of excellent work. Their performance then becomes the foundation on which they build their worth. When they perform excellently, they feel good about themselves; when they perform poorly, they feel bad about themselves. People with OCPD who repeatedly experience these ups and downs can then fall deeply into performance addiction.

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OCPD):
Stop judging others. Even when others fail to meet your standards, stop yourself from making judgments about them in your mind. Challenge yourself to think more in the middle.

HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OTHERS):
Stop listening to the judgments of your OCPD friend. Try to understand that his or her anxiety causes him or her to think in extremes. Be patient and encourage your OCPD friend to think more in the middle.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR SELF-ESTEEM (OCPD):
Stop listening to yourself. Until you have eliminated your all-or-nothing thinking, your mind is actually quite unreliable and your judgments are flawed. When you defend yourself from attacks that are made against your identity, do not be tempted to focus on what you have done. Instead, focus on who you are. If there is too much hurt, fear, and lies that are hindering you from getting in touch with who you really are, read “The Gift Unwrapped,” my best attempt at summarizing the true identity of our kind.

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