Ego, Arrogance, and Self-Esteem
The pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain are not our only motivators. We are constantly seeking to define and pursue our true purpose in life. Regardless of what we feel or do, we are all simply searching for some type of meaning within our own individual existence that can somehow take us further. However, many problems we face in our lives arise from the lack of true life meaning.
We sometimes lose our direction and become distressed about our circumstances. Our body goes through the stages of stress, including panic, defiance, and fatigue. When we encounter too much stress, we become exhausted and in a last ditch effort, we replace true meaning with an imitation meaning, and make this the primary focus of life. We then lose our self-esteem and direction under layers of defense mechanisms, ego and arrogance, that not only destroy our external world, but they can obscure our own view of the world.
Ego occurs when you have no foundation of belief or clarity of purpose in your world. Ego is cleverness to hide ignorance and obscures clarity. Ego provides you with the mechanism to affect everyone around you negatively to bring them down so that you can feel better about yourself.
Arrogance occurs when you hold on to useless and malfunctioning ways of living life, but you're unsure of its stability. Arrogance is the stubborn conviction that, against all odds, you will push forward down a path that is obviously wrong for you and everyone around you. It is a situation that develops when you begin to lose faith in your own beliefs and direction, yet you still believe, against your own best judgement, that you can succeed along the same path.
Self-esteem can only exist when you take the time to clear yourself of those things that no longer work, take pride in yourself, and make a realistic plan to better your life and yourself. It is not a feeling of power over others, but it is an acceptance of others and a feeling of power over your own life.
Developing A Strong Belief In Yourself
Inevitably in life, we will face disapproval or rejection from others. It might be a family member, friend, employer, or even a stranger. They might disagree with the way we live our lives, the decisions we make for ourselves, or even who we are. They might belittle our dreams, criticize our goals, or make hurtful comments that reveal a low opinion of us. These experiences can be quite painful, because we all want to be liked and accepted. We all want to be supported and nurtured and loved by those around us.
Being rejected or ridiculed by others (especially if it's a frequent occurrence) can cause us to question our own self-worth and value as a person. We begin to wonder if maybe they're right. Maybe we're not lovable enough, or talented enough, or "good" enough to be accepted. Following this line of thought for any length of time can be incredibly damaging to our self-confidence.
While it's normal to have a few moments of uncertainty when we are rejected, the worst thing we can do is internalize the negativity we recieve from others. Just because someone has a low opinion of us does not mean we have to accept it as our truth. They can only come to their conclusions by looking at us from the outside. They don't feel our feelings, think our thoughts, or experience the things we have in our lives. They are seeing us from a completely different perspective than our own.
To complicate matters even further, their own life experiences, thoughts, and feelings can easily be projected onto us, so they may see something that doesn't truly exist, except in their own mind.
So, how do we overcome this? How do we avoid letting other people's negativity erode our belief in ourselves? There are three major points to keep in mind:
1) Reinforcement = Strength. Think of positive thoughts as the antidote to any negativity that comes your way. Feed your mind empowering, positive thoughts daily, preferably several times a day - and most especially after you encounter negativity from another. The stronger you can build up your belief in yourself, the less you will care about others who insult you, ridicule you, or reject you. You won't be looking to others for your sense of validation or approval, because you will already have your OWN approval.
2) Conserve Your Energy. While it might be tempting to try to explain, defend, or prove yourself to someone who rejects you, this is usually a waste of your time and energy. Once someone forms an opinion of you, they are unlikely to change it. The more you try to change their minds, the more stubbornly they will dig their heels in and resist. So, simply release your need to prove yourself and accept that they are entitled to their opinions. Their comments and opinions cannot detract from your belief in yourself, unless you allow them to.
3) Limit Your Exposure. Once a person reveals their negative opinion or directs hurtful comments your way, you might want to avoid spending excessive time with them in the future. This becomes more difficult if it is a family member that you can't just shut out of your life completely. But you can still set boundaries and limit the amount of time you are faced with negativity.
Finally, remember that no one else can define you, or live your life for you, or take away the beauty and uniqueness that is you. They may try, but they won't be successful unless you allow it.
If you instead choose to turn away from the negativity and focus on building a solid foundation of belief in yourself, the negative comments will cease to matter to you. You will go on to create a fulfilling, successful life that reflects exactly who you are, regardless of what others say or do.
“Reboundability”: An Essential Skill for a Successful Life
Do you have difficulty recovering from mistakes, failure and disappointment? Do you find yourself reliving these setbacks over and over? Do certain life situations or challenges have you stressed to the max?
Was that a resounding YES? If so, you may want to invest some time into acquiring the skill of quick “reboundability”. Reboundability is essential to leading a productive, successful and happy life. Life is full of change, stress, disappointment, setbacks, failure, illness, injury, loss of competitions or jobs, death, and so on. How we handle these types of situations is what makes the difference between being joyful, successful individuals and those who wallow in self-pity, and stay stuck in habits of worry, fear and insecurity.
What does it mean to “rebound quickly”? Rebounding is the ability to quickly recover from perceived loss and failure. It means breaking old mental patterns and behaviors that keep you stuck and miserable.
Individuals lacking great “reboundability” skills engage in destructive patterns of self-punishment, which inevitably results in loved ones suffering as well. This may come in the form of irritability, sadness, depression, physical, emotional or even physical abuse, alcoholism, and over-working just to name a few! These negative habits make it virtually impossible to maintain a truly joyful and contented life.
Sample situation: Loss of a big sales opportunity. Those who have not acquired the skill of “reboundability” will engage in destructive mind habits over the course of a few days or frequently even weeks. These habits include replaying the perceived failure or setback over and over as well as engaging in negative and counterproductive self-talk. They continually second-guess themselves, or tell themselves that they are stupid and will never succeed. They may even convince themselves that the potential client didn’t like them or thought they were incompetent.
This habitual pattern of thinking actually steals your ability to perform or be better the next time. These negative mind patterns drastically diminish your ability to be clear (focused) or to accomplish goals. Negative mind habits erode confidence and self-esteem. If you continue to allow your mind to be control, rather than you in control of your mind, you will continue to feel and be defeated.
Break negative habits with these 5 pointers to quick “Reboundability”
Change your perspective! You must know that setbacks, mistakes and failures are a part of life’s learning process and are key elements of meeting your potential and gaining success. Disappointments and failures are best viewed as stepping-stones to success. Learn to view adversity as a good and valuable part of growing and learning. Know that there are extremely valuable lessons to be learned from failure and disappointment, and be sure to look for them. Decide to view problems as situations or challenges to be handled or released.
Refrain drawing conclusions and making interpretations. All too often we will make a mistake or fail at something and automatically assume that others think that we must be stupid or careless. In truth, it does not matter what others think of us as long as we know who we are and what we are about.
Refrain from judging yourself from a critical perspective that leads to less confidence and lower self-esteem. Judging yourself in this way leads to a pattern of repeating the same mistakes and repeating the same failures. It is better to observe the mistake or perceived failure, garnish the lesson, and move on. Anything else will keep you stuck and hold you back from success and happiness.
Trust that when one door closed another one truly will open. Don’t allow yourself to get so stuck in negative mind patterns that you miss the next fantastic opportunity! All things happen for a reason, so if you are experiencing a loss, failure or disappointment, a better opportunity will be awaiting you, so keep your eyes peeled!
Accept what is. Accepting the current situation is the only “sane” choice. Wishing you could change the past and beating yourself up is not only futile, it also removes the possibility of growing and leaning from the loss, failure, or disappointment. Accept the current situation, do not resist what already is. Do you attempt to resist the sun from shining? Of course not. So why would you attempt to resist anything else that already is a reality? Acceptance is the only success-promoting choice.
These are just a few of the wonderful pieces of “reboundability”. Learning to rebound quickly from negative situations is a process, so allow yourself time and patience while implementing these new habits for quick recovery.
5 Unhealthy Ways To Escape Uncomfortable Feelings of Low Self-Esteem and Poor Self-Confidence
Many people live their entire lives without getting to the source of what originally caused their feelings of low self-esteem. Because they are unaware of how they can heal their painful past and reframe the circumstances that originally resulted in interpretations of being unworthy, unlovable, or deficient in some way, most people instead often resort to finding ways to distract themselves from the unpleasant sensations that accompany feeling inferior. Instead of effectively silencing the nagging voice of past hurts, they seek out distractions to help them temporarily forget about their lacking confidence and deficient self-image. Five of the more common ways to relieve the pain of low self-esteem and poor self-confidence involve excessive attention to work, food, sports, sex, or even shopping. Like all addictions, they help to distract from but do not resolve the underlying problem and so one is still plagued by feelings that will continually require greater efforts from which to hide.
In our culture, work is usually an acceptable means of diverting our attention. Through hard work, we busy ourselves to the extent that we lack the free time needed to brood over our sorrows. Those who work excessively are often too tired to worry about a lacking social life or the pursuit of fun pastimes that they often likewise believe they do not deserve to experience. Work provides rewards such as money, recognition, and a feeling of accomplishment, all of which help to compensate for feelings of failure in other areas of life.
It’s not that a commitment to work is bad. In fact, it is quite admirable as just one component to a well-balanced life. However, when pursued to excess, it doesn’t allow for the honoring of other equally important elements such as a commitment to family, friends, fun, recreation, personal and spiritual development, etc. An obsession with work can take its toll on health, relationships, and missed opportunities for other equally valuable pursuits.
Moreover, when work is undertaken from the perspective that one is ‘not good enough’ in one or more aspects of their being, it can’t be fully enjoyed. Feelings of low self confidence and little self-esteem diminish one’s energy by consuming attention that could have been spent more productively in the joyful pursuit of one’s goals, rather than as a distraction from persistent negative self-talk.
Like working excessively, an obsession with food is often a common escape from feelings of unworthiness. Eating can serve both as a distraction and a way to make ourselves feel better temporarily. We often seek from food the emotional connection that we are lacking in close, intimate relationships. Frequently, food is linked in our minds to happy times with family or friends. Perhaps we experienced food rewards from our parents or authority figures for scholastic or sports accomplishments. For many, food has become synonymous with love. And so in times of stress, fear, and loneliness, many turn to food to fill a void that only love and self-fulfillment can satisfy.
Habitual overeating also results in being out of shape, overweight, and generally unattractive in the paradigm of Western modern-day culture. The more one eats as a substitute for missing self-love and intimacy with others, the more obese he or she is likely to become. This in turn reinforces the feeling that the heavier the person becomes, the less she fits in and the lower her self-esteem and self-confidence plummets. The greater the feelings of loneliness and not fitting in that result, the more she is likely to seek comfort in food (especially the high carbohydrate, high fat, high comfort variety). A vicious cycle is thus set in motion ensuring more weight gain and lower self-esteem.
Sports and Other Physical Outlets
Some people run to overcome feelings of loneliness, boredom, depression or lacking self-worth. Some pump iron, play golf, or work out at the gym while others find their own unique way to divert their focus through exercise, hobbies, or sports. Many would argue that such a diversion is a healthy way to funnel energy into an activity that contributes to good physical health. However, like any obsession, when taken to the extreme for the purpose of diverting attention from issues in need of resolution, it can become an unhealthy means of avoiding areas in serious need of attention.
An obsession with sex outside of a healthy, loving relationship can likewise become a means of distraction to take the focus away from self-esteem and self-confidence issues. Whether it’s Internet porn sites, an obsession with strip clubs, or the need for frequent casual sexual encounters, all serve as an effort to numb the pain of isolation. Ironically, the greater the obsession to connect with others through meaningless sexual experiences, the greater one’s sense of isolation will likely become.
Another common obsession to compensate for a low self-image is shopping. While some find temporary comfort in making themselves feel more attractive by purchasing the latest, most stylish clothes, shoes, accessories, or even cars and other expensive toys if their budget allows (and many times even if it does not!), compulsive shoppers find that the comfort they seek in material items is typically short lived. They often fool themselves into thinking that next new dress, sport coat, outfit or cologne purchase will make the difference they seek in having them feel better about themselves. Sadly, it never does. However, all too often such excessive spending sprees send the shopaholic deeper into debt. This further reinforces or worsens the failure interpretation they already possessed and continues to diminish their self-esteem and confidence level.
There are countless other addictions that people resort to in an effort to find meaning in life when their own self-worth is lacking. Whether it is compulsive gambling, studying, puttering in the yard, decorating the house, or whatever other diversion, those who lack inner peace will not soon find it externally with a focus that seeks to cover up feelings of being unworthy or unlovable.
Self talk is something we all do. We are always explaining things to ourselves, and making comments to ourselves. The question is, what are we saying? What we say to ourselves radically affects the quality of our lives, and our ability to do things effectively.
Are you using positive self-talk or negative self-talk? Below are some of the things that positive and negative people say. Look at the difference, and start talking to yourself in more constructive ways, if you don't already.
Positive Self Talk
Positive people explain bad things by externalizing them ("The weather caused it."). They consider them temporary ("That was a rough couple hours."). They see them as isolated ("THAT part of the plan didn't work, but..."). When they explain good things, they internalize them ("Life is great!"), consider them to be more or less permanent changes ("Now I know how to do this."), and generalize from them ("Things are working out well.").
"I've done well with this."
"This has become a great business to be in."
"I like the way things are going."
"That just went bad due to the weather."
"It was rough for an hour or two."
"The car broke down, but the trip was fun."
Negative Self Talk
Negative people explain bad things by internalizing them ("It's me again."). They consider them permanent ("It's always this way."). They generalize ("Life sucks."). When they explain good things, they externalize them ("That's just lucky."), consider them temporary ("That went well TODAY."), and see them only in a specific context ("At least THIS went right.").
"It's ALWAYS a mess when I meet someone new."
"This party is great, not like mine."
"This is fun for now."
"Well, THAT went okay, I guess."
"I screwed up again."
"This good weather won't last."
If you start explain things to yourself differently, you'll see a difference in your attitude today. Make positive self talk your normal mode of operation, and you'll see a difference in your life. One of the fastest ways to change your experience of life is to change your self talk.
The Battle Of Self-Discipline
Many people struggle to break bad habits from their past and to create new, healthy habits for their future. It is much easier to continue living in the ways that are normal for us than to battle our way to a better life. If, for example, we are used to watching endless hours of television each night it will certainly be hard for us to win the battle of breaking that habit. It will be even harder to replace television with constructive and healthy ways of spending time such as exercising or reading.
The battle to discipline ourselves is certainly one of the toughest battles that we face. It is much easier just let our lives happen than it is to be intentional in our choices and to proactively form habits rather than sit back while our habits are formed for us.
The road to self-discipline must begin with a deep sense of conviction. We must be convinced not only that victory in the battle is possible, but also that winning the battle of disciplining our lives is important. We will never remain long at a task we think is unimportant. It will always be the things that we place the highest value on that will receive our time and efforts, so each person must come to the place where the condition of their undisciplined life is of enough importance to work on.
Determining that the battle for self-discipline is one worth fighting is the first of many steps to achieving a different kind of life. You must take time to evaluate not only your current life but also the kind of life you want to work toward. This evaluating is basically a process of defining some goals for yourself. What battles do you want to focus on now? Is it important to you to see the old habit of inactivity broken, or will you spend your energies trying to stop smoking first? Do not move forward in trying to battle against your problems until you have clearly defined what they are and how you wish to be.
Once you have your 'battle goals' as we'll call them, the important thing is to simply begin. Begin tackling whatever goal you chose, just be sure that you begin. The hardest stage in any battle is the beginning, so you simply have to choose a day and start. If your eventual goal is to run a marathon you can begin by getting outside and jogging for five minutes. At the beginning stages of battle remember that anything is better than nothing. Days of more severe battle and discipline will undoubtedly come, so for now just get moving.
You will quickly realize that the battle to self-discipline is hard and long. You will also realize, however, that the battle is well worth the fight.
The Art of Selfishness
Mature selfishness is the cornerstone of effectively living with passion and purpose. A commitment to self- interest is practical and efficient since you are better able to meet your needs than hope that someone else does. It is the basis for the laws of natural selection and "survival of the fittest." Unfortunately, society has given mature selfishness a bad name.
Parents are well intended when they teach their children that selfishness is bad. Infants are primitively selfish and need to learn compromise, delay of gratification, and social interest to deal effectively with others. Yet, there is a continuum from constant, immediate selfishness on one end to always putting other people before you on the other end. Children need to progress from immature selfishness to a more moderate, mature selfishness that incorporates the interest of others. However, teachers, peers, religions, movies, and books continue to send the message that selfishness is wrong; not that it must be moderated.
Mature selfishness naturally guides you to people and situations that encourage pleasure, happiness, and even hedonism. But, you have to give yourself permission to be selfish and to meet your desires for fun and relaxation. This may be difficult if you are overly socialized and base your life almost entirely on caring for others; this has been referred to as "co- dependent."
Mature selfishness is a process of managing a hierarchy of desires including short- and long-term activities from sex and amusement parks to retirement planning. You feel passionate about desires that feel deeply personal, important, and urgent which make you intensely committed toward a course of action. Thus, selfishness is the wellspring of passion.
It is up to you to decide how to meet your needs and satisfy your desires; not the world that taught you that selfishness is bad and that everybody matters more than you. You are so precious; you deserve to feel happy.
To begin your journey for developing your own mature selfishness, plan to spend three hours every week doing something that only you want to do . . . alone. Then revel in that time and activity that you've chosen.
Remember: start with three hours of selfish time for yourself. Can you do it? Will you do it? It might take your family, partner or co-workers a couple of weeks to get used to the new you, but they will see the positive change in your attitude, your passion, and your commitment to becoming a better you. In the end, they will benefit.
Selfishness vs. Self-Responsibility
One of the last things any of us want to be called is “selfish.” We often end up doing things we don’t want to do to avoid being seen as selfish. In my counseling work with people, I often hear the questions, “Aren’t I being selfish if I take care of myself instead of take care of everyone else? Am I being selfish if I do what I want instead of what someone else wants me to do?”
The problem occurs because of an inaccurate definition of “selfish.”
We are being selfish when:
We expect others to give themselves up for us.
We make others responsible for our feelings of pain and joy.
We get angry at others for doing what they want to do rather than doing what we want them to do.
We consistently make our own feelings, wants, needs and desires important without also considering others feelings, wants, needs and desires.
We believe we are entitled to special treatment, such as not having to wait in line.
We are being self-responsible when:
We take care of our own feeling, wants, desires and needs rather than expecting others to take care of us.
We support others in doing what brings them joy, even when they are not doing what we want them to do.
We show caring toward others for the joy it give us rather than out of fear, obligation, or guilt.
We have the courage to take loving action in our own behalf, even if someone gets angry with us. For example, we go to bed early because we are tired, even if our partner gets angry at us for not watching a movie with him or her.
We have the courage to speak our truth about what we will or will not do, and what we do or do not feel, rather than give ourselves up to avoid criticism, anger or rejection.
Giving ourselves up to avoid being called selfish is not self-responsible - it is manipulative and dishonest. When we give ourselves up to avoid criticism, we are trying to control how another feels about us.
Taking loving care of ourselves, with no intent to harm another is self-responsible. Yet we are often called “selfish” when we take care of ourselves.
It is important for each of us to define selfishness and self-responsibility for ourselves so that we are not dependent upon others’ definition of us. When you become secure in knowing that you not only have the right, but the responsibility, to support your own joy and highest good - with no intent to harm another – then you will not be tempted to give yourself up when someone tells you that you are selfish for not doing what he or she wants you to do. When we are secure in knowing that our own intent is a loving one, we do not have to manipulate others into defining us as caring by giving ourselves up.
Self-Sabotage - Are We Prisoners of the Past?
Many people who suffer from low self-esteem would give anything to escape their painful feelings of inferiority. Almost anything, that is.
People are reluctant, even obstinate, when it comes to giving up their illusions of an idyllic childhood.
And yet, if we are to break free from our mental prisons, we must become willing to honor the truth of our personal history. This is the key to removing our invisible psychological and emotional chains.
Lack of Self-Worth Does Not Develop in a Vacuum
There is just no getting around the fact that our core beliefs about the world and ourselves and our place in this world are pretty firmly established by the time we are three or four years old.
Lack of parental approval in early childhood exacts a heavy toll. Low self-esteem, the root of all self-sabotaging behavior, hangs heavy around our necks for life
“I Left All That Behind a Long Time Ago”
People are quick to grasp at a simple “Out of sight, out of mind” escape. Sadly, this is a fantasy. While you can, indeed, leave home and leave your family life behind, their influence does not leave you.
Negative parental messages carry enormous weight. It is through these concepts that everything else later on, (i.e., for the rest of our lives) is filtered.
Clearly then, if these basic messages are more negative than positive, it is not surprising that we would wind up with a badly mangled sense of self-worth.
A life of self-sabotage and perpetual dissatisfaction is what results, because we simply do not believe, at a SUBCONSCIOUS level, that we are worth anything better.
Traditional Morality Would Have Us Turn Away
People recoil at the idea of finding fault with their parents. We have many religious, social and cultural injunctions to honor, obey, respect, forgive, and worship our elders.
These commandments prevent us from looking upon our caretakers in a less than adoring way without incurring a tremendous sense of guilt, betrayal and ingratitude. So we remain unaware.
What people fail to appreciate is that it is only by shattering our ignorance and examining our formative years that we can come to understand what makes us tick. This awareness will, in turn, allow us to process any distress so that we may finally release it. Not ignore it, not camouflage it, but finally release it.
This is all done in a spirit of healing, not one of self-pity, and certainly not one of denunciation. As a result of discovering and embracing our emotions rather than squelching them, we can finally come alive.
Not only do we gain a new sense of vitality, but we gain a new source of wisdom. And our awareness allows us to cut negative patterns off at their source. You see, we cannot let go of something if we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge what we are hanging on to.
Rational Justifications Do NOT Penetrate the Subconscious Mind
Many well-intentioned people and spiritual mentors will agree that while injurious things may have been said and done, we should be mature or evolved enough to understand that our caretakers were doing the best they could.
After all, they didn’t mean to hurt us with their harshness or neglect. Why don’t we just rise above it and move on? Surely we are noble and generous-hearted enough to forgive them, yes?
Well, no, actually. And for two very important reasons.
First, this is an attempt to reason things out consciously. It is a fruitless activity, because it does nothing to reach and alter the core beliefs and distress that are stuffed down BEYOND conscious access.
And second, the person whose body and/or emotions were assailed was NOT an adult capable of reasoning things out so rationally. The early distress lives on unabated.
We Cannot Live With the Results
We may be able to carry on, but we cannot really live and flourish while those negative core beliefs remain frozen in time. The tragedy for so many of us is that they remain lodged firmly in place today, without our consent and without our conscious awareness.
Down With the Taboo Against Knowing Who We Are
Rather than continue to justify our ignorance, we must dare to bring the unconscious to conscious light. There are compelling reasons for doing so.
To heal a mutilated sense of self-worth.
To process our present moments through fresh eyes.
To avoid becoming subtly mean, cruel or sarcastic.
To prevent ourselves from unwittingly passing on our damage.
And finally, and perhaps most compelling of all, if traditional morality continues to deny us knowledge of ourselves and our history, our bodies will end up speaking for us. And this it will do by erupting into disease. Witness the alarming number of people who suffer from depression today.
Our psychological and emotional disturbances must eventually surface as some type of physical or mental malady. Or as I heard somewhere along the way, “If your mouth won’t say it straight, your body will say it crooked.”
The greatest healing contribution any of us can make to world is to heal our own wounds, not hide from them or deny them or justify them. After all, we do want to live and not just survive, don’t we?