“In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Self-esteem is often seen as a personality trait, which means that it tends to be stable and enduring. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one’s own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.” ~Kendra Cherry, About.com’s resident psychologist
This is a topic so very heavily discussed that it has become cliché. The therapy culture of the 90s and the new age movements coming out of that decade have taken the world by storm giving Self-Esteem so much air time that it has become a household name. Having a low one is a diagnosis for all sorts of dysfunctions and criminal behaviours and there is an unreachable image of someone who has a high one. Someone with the highest level of Self-Esteem is gorgeous, intelligent, powerful, gregarious, kind, utters no wry word and causes no harm. There is no end to their power and no end to their perfection. All because they hold their Self in high Esteem.
In my opinion that is utter nonsense. It’s a tidy little theory expounded upon over and over in brilliantly inaccessible language by brilliant minds with PHDs and accolades. But I must humbly disagree. The love of self does not result in perfection.
Over the course of the next few entries I am going to do a layman’s exploration of Self-Esteem. Because I am a layman. The theories behind this stuff aside, my study is going to be one of common sense. The topics I intend to explore are:
Once again, a Bushlings caveat: This is how I plan to cover it. I might change my mind along the way. I am inviting you to share in a journey I have not yet taken – travel with me not as a guide but as a companion. Sure, I think my destination is going to be a place where the theory of and the importance placed on Self-Esteem is total rubbish. But I might bump into something on the way that totally changes my mind.
But while you wait in the departure lounge, please go and test your self-esteem so we know exactly what it is we’re rubbishing.
This morning it is a very delicate thing that weighs on my mind. I owe a friend an apology and she doesn’t even know it. And if I do apologize it will open her up to a hurt she does not need to feel right now. I will blog about it in the abstract and maybe one day, when the betrayals all come to light, I will be there to help her.
We are not very long acquainted and not yet close. Yet I have wronged her. I have wronged her by listening to idle gossip.
There is the argument we absorb growing up and growing wise that gossip is harmful, hurtful and should be avoided. We understand in theory the importance of honesty and minding ones own business. But driving to a social event with friends and having them say “Oh Bushlings you are going to meet my friend X. Be careful with her and don’t believe a word she says” or to each other “I saw her yesterday you know, with another man. Do you think Y knows?” or worse yet “Poor Y, have no idea what he’s doing with that X”. It can even be as indirect as saying “Boy oh boy that X, she is something else.” The tones are advisory, disapproving, warning, and downright self-righteous. But it leaves the most discerning listener questioning is this a fair warning? Are they doing me a favour?
No. It is gossip. It is taking a bucket of proverbial red paint and throwing it all over someone’s first impression not yet made. They don’t stand a chance.
In this case I met the victim and was wary. Her honest overtures of friendship were dissected and examined before I took the step of opening my heart. When I did it was after a long reprimanding conversation with myself and a long exploratory one with her. I learned a few of the untruths of the stories for myself but got to the question of “why is it any of my business anyway?” Only the spoon knows what is in the pot.
It made me mindful of the dangers of influence and the responsibility we have to think for ourselves. She may have needed a friend in the time it took me to flush the gossip out of my system and I would have been distant and inaccessible by my judgments. I would never have known, so caught up was I in the manufactured poor impression maliciously made. Only when I made the conscious decision to be gracious and allow the friend the chance to make her own way into my impression did I learn what a giving, open, caring, honest and lonely person she was. Isolated more still by malicious gossip.
It made me wonder how many others had heard the snide comments, loose-lipped remarks. It made me question how many of these remarks have been made about me? Has there been a preamble to every introduction these ‘friends’ have made? Who gives them the right to decide how the world should see me? Her? Anyone?
Rather than send myself crazy and dwell on the gossipers I have decided to examine myself. Should I tell her? Do I reach out enough? Do I keep my mind open enough? How should I be dealing with the conversations like these that happen around me? How do I not only protect myself from their influence but stop them from happening – at least in my presence -in the first place?
Do you have stories about gossip? How do you recognize it? How do you deal with it? What would you do in my position?
There are three frogs on a log, two of them decide to jump off the log. How many frogs are on the log?
In answer to my tweet yesterday I got one answer I didn’t expect. “Three. There were two logs”. (Uh huh. You tink you funneee?) The answers I DID expect were 1 or 3. They DECIDED but did they jump?
There are four types of people in my world. Thinkers, Talkers, Doers, and Wasters. Think about it for a minute.
The Thinkers (the frogs that decide), The Doers (the frogs that actually jump), The Talkers and The Haters. I believe everyone can be put into one of those four categories without exception. And if you honestly assess yourself and find you are in none of the first three categories you will be at home, no doubt, in the naturally unhappy fourth category residing in Haterville.
Each of these categories has a definite purpose in life. Thinkers think up the things that the Doers then do, after which the Talkers launch the final product to the world. And then the Haters pile on to find fault with one or all of the others, intending to be negative, but adding positive effect to the attention solicited by the Talker. If you don’t have Haters, you’re doing something wrong, right? (Is it Jersey Shore or some other awful TV program I have to thank for that little gem?)
A few nights back I had a conversation with a recently made acquaintance. It left me rankled and prickly. He started with the sticky compliments that naturally sent my wall up. I shut him down calling him a Talker, and to my dismay he took it as a challenge. Blows back and forth later, and following my suggestion that he be a Doer like me and quit talking about silly things he never intends to do, he suggested that it is me that is the Talker.
I was immediately VEXED! But stepping back I looked at the bigger picture and counted to ten. Young guy, we just met, instant message conversation easily misunderstood, and … hell… why do I have to answer to him anyway? My final conclusion, after calm and forgiving consideration, is that he can merrily go to Hell.
Something did come out of the tit-for-tat – some of my own truths. Talkers frustrate the gastric juices out of me when they come disconnected from thought and action. But Thinkers exhaust me too, particularly good ones, when their ideas stay on their drawing board never seeing the light of day and never benefitting humanity as they rightfully should. Haters don’t make it past the first meeting. They go into the spam box of my life. But a Doer now… a Doer I can forgive just about any flaw. They can do and do and do and fall down and get up and fall down and get up and make mistake after mistake and I GET IT. I really do.
I leap before I look. I throw blows and ask questions later. I fling myself out the romantic window and nurse the bruises after the haircut. It is my nature. I am a Doer.
There is sooo much to do. And sooo little time. This thought sometimes actually depresses me because I realize that even if I were to live to a million years old I would never have every single life experience that I want to have! Worse, there is so much to be, so much to learn, so much space to grow, so much to say, so much to read, so many roads to travel, so much to taste, eat, drink, try out, fail at… how could one ever commit to any one thing?
It must be so much easier to be Hindu. If I were Hindu I could plan this thing out. This life I’d be me – a twin in the womb, born alone, talking at six months, reading in 4 years, always singing, always dancing, always reading, swimming, studying law, playing the piano, singing, eating, cooking, drinking, learning spanish, running a company, singing… and maybe marry a nice man, have a couple of crazy kids, fly around the world in my retirement. Simple life really until I die happy knowing that in my next life…
…I’d be the opposite of who I am now, become a prostitute, live a mercenary life, meet a rich john, get him to pay for my extravagant lifestyle, never have a child, watch every calorie going into my mouth, exercise twice a day, never read a book, watch lots of TV, be obsessed with fashion, be perfect physically and damaged in every other way (which is the correct balance of course)…
…and then the following life would be spent in religious service, as a vegetarian, never touching strong drink, virgin for life, yoga every morning…
…and the next one would be in fulltime academics…
…and the next one would be in extreme sports…
…and finally, when I am out of good ideas, I’ll spend a life as a man.
But while I remain at home in my christian context, I’m just gonna jump.