Self Esteem

“We have two avenues to explore,” my therapist said. “We can brainstorm ways in which your whole world can go to shit and you can judge if you can handle it, or we can work on accepting the fact that you have within you what it takes to handle whatever comes your way. That it may not be beautiful or easy, that it may set you back a day or two, or a month, or a year but that, ultimately, you can handle it.”

I took in what he said and went inside myself to listen for the response. It was loud and clear: I know my mind: tell me about scenarios of doom and I will already live them there, talk to me about what could happen and my inside will create and live it. No, that’s not it. Let’s try to fake being prepared for whatever. Fake it, til you make it, right?

I always ask for more information. It has become a modus operandi to me, to want to learn more about areas that feel uncertain. And sometimes it helps …

Because nothing is by chance, while he could not think of something for my specific dilema, my therapist pointed me to this oldie but goldie: The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. The book had me at the definition of self esteem as a combination of self efficacy (the trust in ourselves that we have what it takes to succeed in life and problem solve when we need to) and self respect (the firm belief that we are worthy).

Isn’t it funny how we hear about things for days and days and even years sometimes and they never stick and then all of a sudden there is an aha moment when the penny finally drops? When the author talks about the vast difference between self esteem and boasting, when he enumerates the ways in which a person lacking self esteem behaves, my brain looked like Christmas on steroids with the lights popping up.

Who do you think you are? Come on, stop tooting your own horn! You should always consider the worst, to be prepared! After laughter comes crying … and other such “educational” incentives we receive most often as young children create crevices in our self esteem that are hard to mend later. And of course, my pet peeve, the idea that our worth is ever tied to something – an action, an event, a look. I simply loved the phrase below:

This book is a must read/listen. It made me think that if we teach ourselves or our kids nothing else but this, they would be fine. Because a healthy self esteem is the perfect ground for lifelong learning, for failing forward, for agility and resilience in the face of change and adversity. In other words, exactly what being “future ready” means.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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