Two months ago I asked our readers what their biggest struggle with self-esteem was. Over the course of these last six weeks I’ve broken down their responses into four categories of self-esteem killers. As we’ve looked at these I hope you have found ideas, perspectives and strategies for how to fight these assassins off.
Ultimately healthy self-esteem grows in depth as you experience life. The reality is that life is hard, unfair, painful, frustrating, and at times, scary. Accepting that as the reality of life and learning how to face it so you can also find the joy, peace, excitement, and love, helps you become a capable adversary to the self-esteem assassins. The more capable you grow at facing reality the stronger the roots of your self-esteem become.
Before I begin I want to be clear that I am not discounting the pain and psychological cost involved when people are victimized. There are truly horrendous things that have happened to people all around the world and most of us have some experience, wherever it might rank on the horrifying scale, of being a victim to people and events that were beyond our control. It can take a lot time, perseverance, and healing to overcome these experiences. My purpose in this is not to blow off that pain as being insignificant, however you may find I handle this topic with a certain amount of uncomfortable bluntness. You see I believe there is a difference between being victimized and being a victim. The first has to do with a specific experience and the impact it made on you which you need help and healing to overcome. The second has to do with believing that life is against you.
I used to be a ‘woe is me’ person. Feeling the sting of ‘what I wasn’t’ or ‘what I didn’t have,’ I felt like life was hard. I am a very mental person, and I do not mean in the sense of being crazy ;). In the past I failed long before I even started simply because my mind had already beaten me. What I didn’t realize then was that I saw myself as a victim of life. I spent my energy ‘reacting’ to its difficulties and feeling like I had no control. Then I read this small statement somewhere and it began a change in my perspective,
“Most things we feel as difficult are really just minor inconveniences.”
Last week we were talking about the third self-esteem killer—people pleasing. This assassin is big enough to need two weeks to fully cover…and by fully I mean as much as I can in a blog, many books have been written that could extend the conversation about this topic for a very long time. This week we will pick up where we left off. If you missed last week’s post I highly recommend reading part one before continuing on with the third way to overcome this killer.
3. Understand what personal integrity is
We often relate integrity to the idea of ‘doing the right thing even when no is looking.’ While true this concept has a much larger foundation than just our good ‘doing’ behavior, it rests on our ‘being.’
Integrity is about ‘being the same in public as you are in private.’ Being the same to someone’s face as you are behind their back. Being the same on the inside as you are on the outside. You can often tell if you are doing things or making choices based on pleasing people because you will feel the lack of integrity that comes in the process. Feeling ‘out of sync’ or ‘off-balance’ or ‘not centered,’ are all indicators that you are lacking congruity between who you are (what you say you value) and your behavior. All of which can greatly impact your quality of life.
I am a recovering co-dependent. I’ve been recovering for years but just didn’t know it until the last year or so. Often codependency is used to refer to people in destructive relationships with addicted people. That wasn’t my scenario so I didn’t make the connection until I heard it described another way.
Last fall I was at Donald Miller’s Storyline conference in Chicago. One of the breakout sessions I went to was called “Codependency: Where it comes from, how it’s harmful and how we can change it” led by Bill and Laurie Lokey from OnSite Workshops in Nashville TN. As they talked tears fell because they were defining everything I had struggled with my entire life.
They said, “a codependent doesn’t have a sense of self—a defined ‘me’” because they have spent most of their life defining themselves by the state of those around them. Basically they showed me how I had spent my life taking too much responsibility for the happiness and well-being of everyone around me.
I am one of the least fun people you will ever meet. I love to work, organize, read and think. Last fall I drove through MSU’s campus on a game day and watched all the tailgating festivities taking place as I passed. Where most people would find the atmosphere fun and exciting, I felt anxiety and had the overwhelming desire to get out of there as fast as I could. Large crowds and chaos are not my preferred environment!
In the course of my life I’ve spent more years hating this about myself than I’ve spent accepting it. I’ve spent a lot of time wishing and trying to be different. What I’ve come to learn is that I rendered myself much less effective at filling the role I was created for because I used so much energy trying to play a different one.
The last self-esteem killer we talked about was unrealistic expectations and perfectionism—an assassin that can steal a ton of our peace in life if we let it. One of the contributing factors to the strength of that killer is this one—The Comparison Game. This assassin seems to get its power from our strong radar for noticing everything other people are good at that we are not.