Friday, January 4, 2008

Kahless Asks about Self Esteem

I didn't post yesterday because I was gelling for the day, I think. Well, truthfully maybe I hadn't decided what to use as a topic for that post so I decided it was ok that I continue to gel. So I laughed when I received this comment from Kahless on More on Expectations RR,
If you haven't another post in mind, I would be really interested in your thoughts on how someone can practically take steps to improve their self esteem.

My laughter was about two things. First off it felt like Kahless was reading my mind. Now shouldn't that be a scary thought for someone like me. Maybe at one time, but not anymore. It's ok for me if people get to know me but it is kind of funny that it can happen over the internet. lol

Then, I also laughed because the subject matter is flipping huge. As I responded in the comments, there have been entire books written on improving self esteem. Now it occurs to me that this is a gross understatement. There have been literally volumes written about improving one's self-esteem. Now as I think about it, I think I've written lots of posts that really are about doing things that will improve you self esteem.

So I think I'm going to recap some of those posts and let's see if that will get some discussion going here because I'm sure that ALL of you have your own views on these things.

To start off with, the most obvious to me is the post I did on Garbage Feelings and Garbage Feelings Part 2 Learning to shut off those negative messages we learned about ourselves as children is probably one of the most powerful and productive things I can think of to improve one's self-esteem.

While each of us will have our own negative messages to combat, the one thing we all have in common is that those messages are false perceptions forced unto us in dysfunctional homes. Each of us must first identify those messages. Then we must shut them down and replace them with new positive messages.

Another post that comes to mind for me is $20 This post while not my writing illustrates a very important point. That is we have value no matter what we have been through. Reminding ourselves each and every day that we really are important and that we matter is another MUST in achieving healthy self esteem.

The posts Fitting in......... or Not and Fitting In............Or Not! Part 2 are both useful posts in identifying behavior that is not healthy for one's self-esteem. Sacrificing who we really are in order to fit in is probably the widest spread behavior that squashes and destroys self esteem. The only way we can have good healthy self esteem is to be true to ourselves.

There was also the lesson that I learned in my intimacy group. I posted in Staying Stuck and Staying Stuck Part 2 about the ways we hold ourselves back. No one likes to feel powerless. And yet as victims, most of us have convinced ourselves that we have little power in our lives. This kind of thinking causes of to be stuck in our victim behavior. These posts have a great lesson and some ideas on how to reclaim our personal power.

Then, I would be remiss if I didn't include standing up for ourselves as an important source of self esteem. For this I want to include Kahless's recent post Question from Enola
I don't think there is any stronger message to our inner child that we have value than to stand up and protect that child. So to take on the family of origin and finally give that child some protection is a great way to bolster one's self esteem.

Of course, once we have started down that road, it is necessary to keep on going. Protecting the inner child is essential in maintaining healthy self esteem.

As I look back over this post, again I have to laugh. I think that Kahless was asking or maybe hoping for something more simple. I can totally relate to wanting some nice easy little exercise to fix the problem but self esteem just isn't that kind of issue.

There are so many ways throughout the day that we either add to our self-esteem or we diminish it. Finding what it is we do to tear ourselves down is the first step. Figuring out what to do to build us up is the second.

And as you can see by the variety of these posts, there are of myriad of ways that we do our self esteem damage. Changing those behaviors is a long slow process. There just isn't an easy answer. Taking it one day at a time and striving for each day to be better than the last is about the best that any of us can do.


Enola said...

Great topic and post. I think you've covered a lot here. My T gave me an exercise to work on called "Ant Therapy" developed by Daniel Amen. It's about developing an internal "anteater" to eradaicate ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). It's based on the fact that every thought releases chemicals. Angry, bad, sad, thoughts release negative chemicals. Happy, positive thoughts release positive chemicals. (think of automatic responses like dizziness, panic, sweating, relaxing, tension, heart rate, blood pressure, etc). The key is to recognize thoughts and talk back to the negative ones. So one suggestion is to write down the automatic negative thoughts and then talk back.

Exp - my DH never listens to me.
Response - He's not listening now, because he is distracted by sports. He does listen other times.

The goal is to feed the "anteater" and eat up those negative ANTs.

If you have trouble coming up with a response, think of what others would say - even if you can't yet believe it yourself. Repeat to yourself. The response will become less foreign over time.

Kahless said...

Thanks for the post. You are right, I DO want a simple instruction manual to follow! lol!

I have paused over you post, we have

garage feelings
realising the value of ourselves in who and whose we are (I like the $20 story!)
Not being someone we are not
not getting stuck in our negative patterns
choosing change
standing up for our inner child.

I guess for me too, one of my destructive things is I look for approval from others. Particularly it seems at work at the moment. I look for it from the people who are never going to give it too, cos that is not that style. I try and try to say to myself to stop looking for approval where I am not going to get it. Actually I could write loads on this subject. I am going to type it out in word and come back here and copy and paste it into your comments if you dont mind.

I guess it comes under the category of looking for positive strokes in an environment where it is sparce. And that really impacts my self esteem.

Rising Rainbow said...

I like the sounds of the anteater, I hope to remember that. Shutting off those negative messages is really important.

I know what you mean about the DH, I feel like mine never listens either. It's hard to give him credit when I can't even remember the last time that he did. But it can make me miserable if I dwell on the "never."

kahless, yes and that list is only a partial list, there are other things as well.

Obviously, as you have mentioned your need for approval at work, unrealistic expectations can go on that list.

I will be interested to see what you post. Of course, you are welcome to post it here.

I understand your need for approval at work, however, that approval is going to need to come from you.

Because I work alone most of the time, that's what I need to do as well. It was hard to get used to at the beginning but now I think I do it automatically.

Kahless said...

I am reticent to post work related stuff on my blog so I guess I hope you don’t mind me placing this here instead for feedback!

Looking for positive strokes around people who just don’t give them.

I work in financial services which is known to be quite a male dominated stressful and cut-throat environment. I am also relatively senior in my role so it is expected that I am confident and decisive and self assured. (I can pretend to be on the surface, less so these days though.)

I find at the moment that my peers and my boss are really draining of my confidence.

I am a watcher myself by nature and then pip in with observations. I sit in meetings with men who don’t much seem to care about their staff, more the importance of their ‘manager’ status. I am arguing about something they want to bring in which I think is needless and will demotivate staff. It has disaster written over it. They ignore me and give me a weak smile and say ‘your management style is different to ours’ in a real condescending tone. Also in other meetings I pip in with an idea and next moment someone else has claimed it as theirs and they are being told what a great idea it is. I am left thinking in meetings ‘you all think I am a waste of space don’t you?’

My boss knew I was depressed and when I was on short hours he asked me what he could do to help. I said that I would appreciate it if he could be real encouraging of me at the moment, that I needed some positive comments. NONE have been forthcoming. In fact when I look for some by saying something good I have done he criticises it! Yet the anomaly is I got told I was graded top 20% in my peer group in my performance review. No positive comments with it, just that.

So now I am back at work and my self confidence is just being dragged down so much. I then get so frustrated that I just want to get my head and smash it against a wall (which I sometimes do.) Arh. I just feel so unhealthy.

The instruction manual says “approve yourself, don’t look for it elsewhere, especially where you are not going to get it.” I just can’t seem to follow that simple instruction though and get caught up in such angst in my working day.

Then I think maybe it is something about men and approval I am seeking from them? I’ll have to ponder on that one.

Rising Rainbow said...

The first thing that comes to mind for me is that there really isn't much chance you can work in that field and not be surrounded my men. That means there is no way you are going to get the kind of approval you are seeking. Men communicate differently than woman and most of us woman don't get it! Just like they don't get us!

It sounds to me like you are expecting approval on your terms and that's never going to happen. It just isn't how men operate.

To continue to expect it and to beat yourself up because you don't is setting yourself up for failure, big time!

Just in what you've said, I see ways that you get approval from them, you're just not accepting it as such. If you were a waste of space, they wouldn't be stealing your ideas. Also a top 20% ranking sounds like approval to me, but you have discounted it because you want it explained.

So why don't you explain it. What about the way you do your job puts you in the top 20% of your peers. I'm sure that you must know. If you need it, write it down. Keep it in your drawer at work and pull it out and read it. Start your day off reading it, read it at breaks and at the end of the day and if something goes wrong.

Also about the "bad" idea they want to do, it's not a failure on your part if they dont' listen to you. You can't control how they respond. You've proviced the information now if they fall on their faces, it is on them.

I do think you are on to something about needing approval from men. It sounds to me like that would be a good thing to discuss with your therapist.

Just remember, your self esttem is about your "self." Not those other people at work. The only one that can fix that is you. And with that, I feel a post coming on! LOL Unlike the men you work with, I am very windy!!

Kahless said...

Yes I have been thinking about that as a subject to talk about with my therapist on monday. (approval from men that is.) Much better than talking about the other thing which I sooo dont want to talk about! !!

I like the idea about the list. I will do that one.

Rising Rainbow said...

LOL, OK, now you're copping out! Any excuse to not deal with the "other" thing.

How about you do a list of things to work on with you therapist. Write it down, be specific, and turn it over to your therapist. Maybe the two of you together can prioritize the list by importance and go from there. Or you can talk about the list briefly and then work on the issue you feel most comfortable with. That will at least let the cat out of the bag and give you a chance to assimilate your therapist's reaction. Since I know it's going to be supportive, that will make it easier for you to talk about it at your next appointment.

I know what your fear is. I think by mentioning the "other" specifically, but not dissecting it at first, might make it easier. Only you will know. But the longer you keep hiding it, the bigger it becomes.

My belief is that IT is probably the biggest hinderance to your self-esteem. The sooner you expose it, the better off you will be.

As proof, consider how you feel now that you have shared that iformation with a couple of us. We did not and will not react the way you expected. I'm pretty sure that you get some reassurance from that. That will grow as you include others in that circle.

April_optimist said...

Great post--and so wise.

Enola said...

I work in a male-dominated field as well. It is tough - men just don't encourage each other much unless it is in a drunken state LOL I have tried to realize that my worth is not based on their praise. Look at that performance review - that is praise. It's not so much that men can NOT praise women - it's that they do it differently. You just have to learn to recognize it. I find that my "praise" comes in a side comment "good job" or in getting more work, getting asked ot oversee something, and in those objective number reviews too.

And RR's idea about a list to take into T is really good. I email my T agendas and she leads the discussion -otherwise there are certain topics I would NEVER raise!

Flowering Jasmine said...

Hi. Kahless pointed me in your direction and i must admit i too was hoping for a quick way to boost self esteem! But as i read on i know that you are right about taking it a day at a time. Sometimes it is one step forward, two steps back but i am on my way. x