You are Responsible for Yourself!
It may be a difficult truth but it is a cornerstone of well-being…you are responsible for yourself. As therapists, we are too often charged with helping others improve their self esteem or self concept. The truth is that feeling good about one’s self takes time to cultivate. Some people view it as self indulgent to cultivate feeling good about one’s self.
Some people have heard early and often (by those who were supposed to love and protect them) about how they are “no good.” As a result, they have created relationships and circumstance that reflect what they believe to be true.
Some are even so distrustful that when they meet people who are trustworthy and well intended…they think it is a scam. They cannot trust others because deep down they know themselves not to be trustworthy. They know that too many times they have abandoned their best interests for both simple and multilayered reasons. They may even have difficulty trusting people who are kind or “good”, because if you behave that way you must be “naive.” Naivete translates as “weak”…and if you are weak then in their minds you might invite “victimization.”
Most people are not ready initially for this message…that they are responsible for themselves. They have a chorus of “yeah buts.” Those “yeah buts” explain every aspect of why they are unhappy or unfulfilled or unsuccessful and why you (the person who is challenging that) just “don’t get it.”
People will often cling to blame like it is their best friend….believing that it is better to be right about being hurt, wronged, misunderstood or disrespected than it is to be honest about not just their pain but also about their opportunity.
We should acknowledge our pain and express it (and we often do). The problem comes when we remain longer than the original pain demands. When we stay close to the pain to stay close to a person, place or circumstance. The problem is when the pain defines us.
Resentment can occupy too much space. It feels small at first but it builds like an avalanche…it buries the holder of the resentment underneath a pile that has the potential to suffocate them. All of their talk, expectation and experience of the world gets filtered through that resentment.
- You are more than the bad things that have happened to you.
- You are more than the bad things you have experienced or the bad decisions you’ve made.
- You are more than a depressed mood state or an anxious disposition.
- You are more than your addictions.
Yes… neurobiology plays a role but we just as well shape our biology by our decisions, actions and most of all by our repetition of the same choices over and over again like a path being cut through the woods.
Rebuilding a Healthy Self
The key to building or rebuilding self esteem, self concept, and self acceptance is by taking responsibility for the things that you can do something about. This requires patience, discipline and consistency. It also requires releasing resentment. It requires owning your power.
You are not owed anything. People do not owe you a second chance. Sometimes all we get is 1 chance. We may see someone else get 5 chances. Their family, job or loved ones may forgive them or stand by them. You could witness that and think it means you are owed that second or third chance but you are not. Each person gets to choose based on everything that they are and all of their experiences to keep you in their circle or to move on with out you.
Your responsibility to others – if you want another chance to be in their life – is to be in integrity, to be in alignment so that your words, actions, emotions, tone and most of all intentions line up. People will experience the truth of your intent. You may think you are speaking the truth but if you are not aligned, the world will know different.
It is hard to like or love yourself when you know that not even you can rely on you. Can you rely on your own words to yourself?
Start today by doing what you say you will do and being what you intend to be. This does not mean you will be perfect. What it means is that when you mess up you have a better chance of owning it. When you excuse your poor behavior or lack of integrity by telling others that they:
- are too sensitive;
- won’t let things die;
- need to look at themselves…
…then you are not being sincere about changing you. You are seeking to lay blame outside of yourself, instead of taking responsibility for that which is yours.
The Truth about You
This loop of blame will keep you in a space of low self concept because even if you don’t admit it to anyone else…you know the truth about you. You know the lies you tell and why. Most of the lies we tell are to ourselves.
We say we like someone or something (like a job or a place) that we don’t…we seek to force companionship and compatibility and try to force a “fit” so that we are either not alone or so that we can gain income or some other basic need.
The ideal mate, the ideal job/career cannot be cultivated under a facade (false front). What you think you are owed will allude you. When you let go of the idea that you are owed, you can accept life as it is and self as you are. That does not mean that you don’t make much needed improvements or changes (i.e. personal development)…what it means is that you are doing it with your eyes wide open.
Be open to your humanity and that of others. You are not perfect nor should you be…the phrase “you are not perfect” should never be issued as a slur or an indictment.
It is not an accident that we repeat the same mistakes or poor decisions that lead to lowered self worth and poor esteem. Sometimes we do the same things thinking there is a short cut. There are no shortcuts. Most often we repeat the same decisions because we do what feels familiar. To change is to walk into unknown territory.
We are All in the Same Boat!
You may think that someone has it better or worse than you because of gender, race, age, education, resources or family circumstance. They have it different from you…but everyone is plagued by their own demons. Those who have power – physically, financially and otherwise – often engage in ever increasing lengths to keep it. They lose integrity and peace of mind…they cultivate paranoia that someone is trying to take what is theirs or that they will never be as good as they were when they snagged that big deal or sang for the leaders of nations.
There is no escaping the hard work of humanity. We will all experience ups and downs. No one escapes it.
Focus on What You Can Change!
Focus on what you can change and what you can do something about. You can do something about your effort, your attitude, your intention, your sobriety, your fear. You don’t have to do it alone…you can do it with the help of a trusted other.
But if you are alone or often feel that you are alone…positive self concept means that you have yourself. It means that you know you can be good counsel to you…as long as you are taking in information and challenging your toxic beliefs. As long as you know that you don’t know everything…you have a chance to be your own reliable internal compass.
Don’t give away your power by assigning your worth to someone else’s approval. Because when you do…your well being becomes contingent upon maintaining their approval. When you do this, you are placing to much of a burden on the other person.
Most people are just struggling to take care of themselves. They don’t want to take on the load of carrying you. We can share our load in healthy mutual relationships. We cannot off load onto others without paying a cost.
Practice Liking and Loving Yourself!
We need to both be concerned about our impact on others, while at the same time learning to affirmed by ourselves.
When we like and love ourselves we can receive support, nurturing and feedback from others. When we like and love ourselves we can understand why others like and love us too…. and we won’t sabotage our personal and professional relationships because deep down we don’t know our value or our worth.
Do not seek to be close to others out of desperation. Under these circumstances they will always leave…even if they stay in physical proximity they will check out…they will become a reflection of your own self loathing. It is not your role to get people to stay. It is your role to never abandon yourself.
Copyright © 2017 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.