Today I read an Oprah.com article on CNN.com (here) about self-esteem.
I don’t know if issues of self-esteem are more prevalent among women but I could certainly identify with the writer.
I’ve been working on my own issue of self-esteem for a very long time. People that know me would find this statement strange as I am a very self-assured and loud woman. But I never think I’m enough. That is how my lack of love for myself or self-esteem issue manifests itself.
I’ve had many accomplishments in life but I don’t get to appreciate and enjoy them because when they are happening I’m already moving on, thinking it was nothing.
Another way my self-esteem shows its ugly head is, I’ve always thought why would a man want to be with me? Even when I was twenty I already saw myself as old and having to catch up with so and so – people I didn’t even know – because they were my age and in my mind were already ahead of me.
I of course like everyone else, can trace some of this to my family life. At home, I was the one who was dishing out advices to all the members in the family. They appreciated that but favored my sibling. So as a child I felt, here I am being giving, mature and understanding but playing second fiddle.
I can also remember at age sixteen telling my dad that I had decided to start ballet to only have him say I was already too old to make a career out of it.
So for many years I walked around considering myself as a factory reject and getting into all kinds of situations with men who couldn’t possibly love me (not because of me but because of themselves) and if I could make one of them love me then maybe I was worthy after all.
I’m not blaming my family for any of this. We loved each other and continue to do so and we all try our best. I’m also mature enough to know my life is my responsibility.
I believe a life is really about getting to know oneself, changing that which makes us unhappy and becoming our own best friend in the most loving of ways; understanding and accepting.
I believe we can only affect a positive change in our life if we first change something within us that causes unhappiness and/or turmoil. Easy to know that what I’m saying is true. Just pick any rich, beautiful, intelligent, young person out there who is completely miserable to know that the problem is within that person. On the other hand, there are plenty of simple people that are happy or satisfied. I’m by no means saying that rich people are unhappy and poor people are happy. I’m just pointing out that the ingredients that all of us consider being the ones to bring satisfaction in life, if not supported by an internal understanding, love and acceptance of our selves, become almost ineffective.
Orson Welles said “We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.”
I agree with his statement but I think it’s incomplete. I really believe that in befriending ourselves we can find the companionship that we so much crave.
So what do I do about my self-esteem issue? I slow down and try to appreciate something that I really enjoy. In my case it can be as simple as a beautiful glass of wine or playing with my dog. Somehow the joy of those simple activities brings me a sense of well being.
I also look around and think where I have been and what I have done and I take a deep breath and try to appreciate my accomplishments.
And mostly I remind myself that my journey is my own and at the end only my best friend (myself) and I will know the entirety of my life and know I have tried to do everything that I set myself out to do and that I was human and I loved and it was a job well done.