For the last couple of years I have been practicing and teaching techniques that help building self esteem; a lot of it through positive affirmations and kindness to one’s self. These are powerful techniques and have been successful in helping me be less concerned around not being good enough; interestingly however, it may have created a situation in which I am overconfident and have forgotten how to question myself in a constructive way. Repeating to myself, “I am enough, I am perfect as I am, I am worthy” over and again has built me up to a place where I can tackle life’s challenges and opportunities without having a severe panic attack, like I used to, but it has also led to a slightly inflated ego in some situations. Mostly in my personal life, with my partner.
I thought I was practicing mindfulness with all my conscious breathing and seated meditation, yet I was also throwing into the mix a whole lot of positivity. Obviously positive thinking is helpful, there’s no use is being a negative Nelly all the time just to avoid disappointment, I assure you that everyone ends up getting the shits and stops wanting to hang out with you. It can go too far though, it can cloud the practitioner’s perspective and present a version of reality that is like a photoshopped version – everything is flawless. For some this might not have any detrimental side effects but for some (like me) it made it difficult to critique myself in a healthy way, so I could maintain or improve my mental health. I believe it can have a similar result for people’s physical health.
Our behaviour is a result of what we tell our body to do and our voice to say in any given situation, so it is easy to justify behaviour through affirming that we are doing our best and that our best is good enough; however, if we believe we are doing our best, we first need to question our integrity. “Am I really being the best version of myself right now?” is a great question to ask yourself. Our mind will interject a fair bit in defence so we need to be vigilant. We need to be on the look out for sensations that tell us we are being dishonest. For me it is a feeling of unease in my stomach and possibly increased heart rate. If you feel as though you can’t manage your best in that moment, take responsibility for that and decide to try another time perhaps, or not, depending on what you want from the situation.
I realised I had been building myself up too much and beginning to believe that I had a deep understanding of who I was and where I was headed, going full steam ahead, until a metaphorical semi-trailer broke down right in the middle of my tracks! A catastrophe waiting to happen, unless I had genuine skills to avoid crashing and ending up in a million pieces. Had my positive affirmations, self kindness and compassion built a strong foundation to face adversity or crisis? I quickly realised that it had not. I had created an environment to be able to handle this realisation however and took the advice of my partner to read a book called The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck. I became aware that I was so busy loving myself exactly as I was that I had forgotten about taking full responsibility for the parts of myself that still needed improvement. The two concepts don’t need to be separate; one mirrors the other. There’s not much point in loving myself as I am if that means remaining unhealthy so as not to offend myself.
I genuinely enjoy my own company and think I am doing a pretty good job at life these days and the best part is that I am beginning to take responsibility for my behaviours consistently; sometimes a bit late, but I always see it now. I understand what it means to be a mature and emotionally intelligent adult now, which at thirty-five is fortunate because I still have another fifty odd years to enjoy it. I watch people I love try to live without this awareness and it’s obvious they are miserable, even if they don’t realise it consciously, because they make everyone else miserable in the process. I used to be that person all the time and cringe at the thought, but I feel grateful I’m not there anymore.
I think so many people that end up in that mind set have been mollycoddled due to their loved one’s being afraid of the consequences if they were to lay down the truth, or that they also are oblivious to the reasons for their behaviour. At the opposite end of the scale are those, convinced that they need to be a superhuman, not allowing themselves to feel anything resembling weakness (vulnerability) so they push everyone away. Both types of behaviour results in the same shitty way of being alive, just as both types of behaviour lack full self awareness and responsibility. Everything is someone else’s fault, which obviously takes away any opportunity to manage the situation. The moment a person takes responsibility for their own feelings and subsequent behaviours they can elicit change – With responsibility comes power!
To observe the reality as it is, is to become free. We bind ourselves by engaging in the fantasy realities that we think we’d prefer, which takes away energy from the actual reality. I used to get incredibly frustrated with my partner because of his apparent lack of emotion, however I can see now that I was becoming too involved in the stories in my head, making me overly emotional. I am still getting used to his blunt approach to everything but am more resilient because of it. I rarely get offended these days and I used to be offended by fucking everything. So, it’s being able to walk the tightrope of feeling emotions and acknowledging them sufficiently and getting on with life, which is the challenge (at least for me). We are so used to being told what we want to hear by companies trying to sell us stuff that we expect it in all aspects of our lives without even realising it. Holy shit, now that I finally understand this I feel like I am the most mentally stable I have ever been; just be real and accept other people being real for what it is and you’ll be sweet. The moment you stop accepting responsibility for your problems by shirking blame is the same moment you have ceased to live in reality. It’s as though your problems are just floating around in the ether with no home and nobody to help undo their distorted expressions; yet, as soon as the right person takes them on they become much clearer.
It seems that without any self esteem at all it’s impossible to see the reality as it is and an inflated sense of self esteem results in the same. To get myself out of the self-hatred sink hole I used positive affirmations, yet to remain grounded I explore my flaws, with the aim of remaining equanimous. The conscious mind has sneaky ways of highjacking your attention and energy away from living in the present, because it’s terrified of it’ own death. If it’s not remembering the past or planning the future, it effectively doesn’t exist, so it creates problems so that it can’t be ignored; like a child having a tantrum. As soon as we realise that it’s complete bullshit it can’t affect us anymore.
Stop giving your power away by believing the stories that your mind conjures up. You’re not the centre of the universe believe it or not… how offensive! But, you’re not. Your problems are no more important than anyone else’s, according to them. Ain’t no one getting outta here alive.
Sorry, not sorry.