As an empath I think my ability to be vulnerable. You wouldn’t think so, I never did either until I received an email the other day that made me cry.
I was interviewing people for a job position and in walked this brilliant young man who had everything going for him. I could feel his sadness. I asked why with his resume stacked to the roof was he asking for this job. He said “I need a break”. He thought I was going to say no thanks, but I looked at him and recognized him as me. So I hired him.
He told me in that email that he was on the verge of ending everything and I gave him that glimmer he needed. As we got to know each other I would share hard things and he said that changed his life. You can recover and heal from trauma and move on with your life. He told me I changed everything and he was grateful.
You don’t always know the impact you have on people. We circle around people, say and do things that alter people good or bad, I always think its good. Even the bad stuff you learn from and in some ways you learn more than you would have if it was good.
I will likely never see that young man again but I think of him often and always with huge love for him. He is changing the world with his greatest strength – vulnerability.
What kinds of things hurt self esteem? How can you discourage these activities?
It’s easy to blame someone for your lack of self-esteem. This maybe true for children who depend on the adults in their life to be truth tellers and caregivers (not care takers). Once we become adults it is important to stop looking backwards and blaming the adults in your life for where you are. Reconciling with yourself is life changing. Acknowledging the adults in your life were not what you needed but who you got and its up to you to make the most of it. Be the adult to yourself that you always needed. Once you move past blaming and resentment and start accepting, you can move past the things that hurt your self-esteem.
Anger, hurt and blame maintain chaos. Acceptance and moving past by self-care is peaceful and freeing. It took a long time to get here. Once you can be the adult you needed, its easier to be the adult others need. Fill your well so you can give to others.
How do you know when you’ve succeeded at something?
I used to think success equated money. I wasn’t very successful. I never made buckets of money because my focus was service. To be in service of others. Someone told me – I think it was my dad because it sounds like him, If you have to work anyways – it might as well be to further humanity. So I did. Except for that one time I hated my job. I work for a place that was about furthering their bank accounts on the backs of their employees and keeping them impoverished. I learned a lot there and took those skills elsewhere.
Now I get a feeling. I know that sounds hippy woo woo but its true. It is a happy and uplifting feeling that makes me smile. That is how I know I succeeded at something. Its as simple as that. When I focus on service to others I get that feeling. When I focus on pleasing others to further their goals, I get depressed.
I think self-love is the most under-rated quality that you can possess. My ex never thought it was a good idea to have self-esteem. It made you arrogant and egotistical. I disagree. People who exhibit those qualities behave that way to build themselves up. They need constant validation. Loving yourself is the best gift you can give yourself. When you love yourself your well is full. Then you can give more of yourself.
I began looking myself in the mirror and said nice things to me. Sounds bonkers, I know, but hearing yourself speak truths is uplifting. I do this before bed so its the last thing I hear while I sleep in a effort to raise my vibration. Everything I say to me begins with ‘I am…’ It is very similar to saying a sankalpa during meditation except you say it so you can hear, not just think it.
I read once your soul doesn’t know the difference and will believe everything you tell it. Give yourself some loving kindness and try this before bed for a 21 days. Look yourself in the eye and repeat these:
I am kind
I am smart
I am beautiful
I am happy
I love you
I promise you will sleep better and little by little you will notice a difference in your relationships, your work and your general happiness. It takes time to undo the words and beliefs other people told you that you are. Remember, you are what you say you are. No one gets to decide that.
I also started throwing in I am wealthy because … the Universe is always listening.
It is the measure of self-worth or personal value.
Back in University I took several mandatory courses on self-esteem. My prof. was Eva Roche. I learned a lot from her. One class she invited all of us (40 ish?) to her home for breakfast. Her house was perched on Strathearn Drive overlooking the valley and downtown Edmonton. She shared this home with Senator Doug Roche. It was a strange but lovely bohemian home with the living quarters upstairs to take advantage of the views. All the walls were lined with book cases filled with books from floor to ceiling, except the living room. It had two chairs in front of a large picture window and a sofa with a soft yellow throw. I have no idea why I remember this home in such vivid detail, but I do.
Eva asked us to bring a lemon. There was food laid out on the long farmer’s table. We only had to bring a lemon. So I did. We ate, toured her home, visited with each other and finally she asked us to join her in the library. It was the largest room about 15′ x 15 ‘ square but there were no chairs in this room. We stood around the perimeter and she asked us to place the lemon on the floor. We were to think of the lemon as ourselves and place it where we felt we fit within the group. I was asked to go first. I placed it left of the centre. I didn’t not see myself as the centre of the group.
What followed shocked me. People were placing the lemons around me so by the end I was in the centre. I always felt invisible. I never was the centre of attention but I always had a kind word for people. I also would notice when someone was felling left out or alone, I would approach them so they would feel connection. The feed back I received was I was confident, compassionate and kind. True, I did see myself like that. I wasn’t the most popular but I was the reliable, kind person of the group. The most interesting part of this social experiment was the most popular person was on the outside. She didn’t feel connected. She arranged all the fun stuff to do and people loved having this social director of the group, but she never felt connected. Never being a popular person, I never thought about how it must feel. She did all those things to gain a connection and she never felt worthy of it. This shocked me to my core. After that day, I made more of an effort to connect with her. We finished out the program as best pals until she moved back to Nova Scotia.
My self-esteem took a hit living with a man who mentality and emotionally abused me. He would say things like ‘your mother doesn’t love you.’ or ‘if it wasn’t for me, you would have no one.’ He separated me from my friends and family. I was alone and disconnected. I broke up with him once, only to be sucked back in by his ability to manipulate my family. One day he said, I don’t want to have children with you because you would insist on giving them self-esteem. He spat it out as if it was a bad thing. I looked at him and it was if a glass wall shattered. I saw the sad boy on the outside wanting to connect with someone. Making me like him was his way of connecting. That was the day I began plotting my exit. I tried a few times to leave but escape is hard when you can’t articulate to friends and family why you need to leave. I didn’t fully understand myself until years later after endless journal entries and visits to my therapist.
It took a long time to get back to understanding my self-worth and personal value. I can still see people who are looking to connect. I sometimes try to connect but I get easily pulled into their emotional turmoil so I have set strong boundaries. It took years to get here, so I am cautious who I let into my circle because I want to avoid being sucked under again. But mostly it feels good to be comfortable in my own skin.
Who are the other people? My friends? My coworkers? My family? My extended family? Strangers?
Everyone sees me differently. I use vulnerability to connect with people. Some people view that as a ploy for me to further myself. Some people view that as a safe quality – it makes them feel comfortable around me. Those are the people I like. They are like me. I learn from those other people. I learn some people don’t want to be around me. Maybe I make them uncomfortable by holding up a mirror and they don’t like what they see. Or maybe they just don’t vibe with me.
My point is, it is none of your business how people see you. It is their business. Just keep on being your authentic self and things will be fine. It is stressful to pretend to be someone else so you get people to like you. Get over that. Find your people. Be yourself. Do nice things. Be good to you.
As we get deeper into these questions, they feel a little repetitive. Maybe that is the point. Keep telling yourself that you love you until you believe it.
I am comfortable being alone. In fact, I love it. I am an introvert. That doesn’t make me shy. Introvert means my energy is depleted in a crowd of people or when I am with energy vampires. Working from home during the pandemic has me living my best life. I like the quiet. I can get lots done and I don’t feel like someone is sucking the energy from me dementor style. I enjoy my own company and get my best thinking done alone.
I am a risk taker. People are not mind readers. You need to ask for what you want. This is risky and puts you in a vulnerable position. But it is helpful too. If I don’t want something I express that. If I do want something – I will say it out loud. Tell someone. They might be able to help. Tell the Universe. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything about it. Take a risk.
I am a dreamer. My grade one teacher Mrs. Long used to tell my parents I day dream too much. No I don’t. Stop blaming me because your class was boring. I used daydreaming to solve problems, think about what I want in the future or just put myself into a movie of my own making. It kept me out of trouble and I wasn’t bothering anyone. Lots of teachers were interesting and I would stay focused in their class. I can sit for long periods of time in stillness but my mind is super active planning out my future, coming up with new ideas or sometimes thinking about a scenario I wish I could have done different. I am learning from all of those scenarios. Dreaming is what makes the world better.
How about you? What three things do you love about yourself?
Of the people in your life, who makes you feel the most confident?
The hubs. I suppose your life partner should be the one you feel safest with. I know that isn’t always true. I was married before to a class A selfish abusive rat-bastard. That relationship was the opposite of instilling confidence. I went through a series of people in my life who were allowed – by me – to treat me like hot garbage. There was a deep something that was comforting about this. I knew what to expect. Knowing what to expect – even bad – was comforting. How sad is that? Feeling bad because you know what to expect. Abuse messes you up.
The hubs held space for me to explore all kinds of feelings and experiences. He was constant. Was? IS. I had a terrible “friend” once say my hubs was a good guy like it was a surprise. He is. We are a good team. He is the anchor while I go out and try new things and either fall or fly. He is there to cheer or give me Band-Aids. Our relationship has evolved into something I can’t explain but its really good. Twenty five years this June.