Let us continue in examining the most part of our beingness in the world—our self-estimate or self-esteem.
What I would like to segue into now is to describe some of the qualities of low self-esteem. As we become aware of certain qualities – with awareness – comes the potential for change – the opportunity to begin scraping off some of the psychological barnacles – that we all have – to varying degrees – on our cruise ship of life.
The first quality is that of victimhood. Victims have little or no confidence in themselves – they feel sorry for themselves – feel they have been wronged in life – they also feel unappreciated – misunderstood – treated unfairly. Victims rarely want to be responsible for anything – they will try to get you to do things for them.
Victims give their power to the past – if I had different parents – if my dad had more money – blame – blame – blame – which is a cheap hit of power – the only power they have since they give it away.
Finally – a victim is generally a loser in life – as a parent or worker – who use blame to control and manipulate people – in order to avoid responsibility and accountability. If a victim gives up blaming their spouse or boss for their unhappiness – they will have to do something other than suffer.
Let us move onto the second quality of low self-esteem which is Martyrhood. Our culture – the Judeo – Christian – ethic that so many of us have been conditioned to and raised by – emphasizes the virtues of learning through the pain – “no pain – no gain”. Our culture has also revered struggle – hardship and sacrifice. This has been conditioned into our collective or consensus consciousness so that some people don’t feel right about achieving or succeeding without first going through struggle – hurt – mini –failures – and so on.
The first quality of martyrhood is feeling unappreciated i.e. “Nobody knows the trouble I know – nobody works as hard as me – you don’t appreciate the difficulties – obstacles I have to overcome” – and so on.
The second feeling of martyrhood is being misunderstood i.e.” You didn’t understand what I said – you took it wrong – I’ll keep things to myself in the future” – and so forth.
Another feeling of martyrhood is hopelessness. – “There is no use in trying—all my relationships turn out this way—my life is a mess”.
Fourthly – a martyr feels they are burdened by impossible demands – “I cannot do what you expect—it’s all too much—I am at the breaking point with everyone wanting a piece of me”.
Fifthly – there is no solution to these problems – a martyr must live and suffer-suffer-suffer – until they are vindicated – then suffer some more.
Next – a martyr never does anything wrong and feels innocent of all wrong-doing. They are misunderstood and they easily slip into blame – if they knock a glass of red wine onto your white carpet – it was the table’s fault – or – whoever created such an unstable wine glass.
Seventh – martyrs almost always feel they are being mistreated – misjudged – and again – misunderstood.
Martyrhood frequently degenerates into self-pity and poor me’s. Along with this – martyrs can be self-righteously angry – “no – I won’t talk about it” – and parenthetically – they are blaming you silently – “just you wait – one day you’ll want my friendship – then I will get even”.
Another quality of low personal power or self-esteem is around the feeling of undeservability – which can hold you back – and stagnate you in the past. Underservability also puts future successes out of reach – and more or less slows your momentum into the future. It freezes you in the past – or takes you back to where you were – rather than where you are going.
The next quality of low self-worth and esteem is shame. No emotion wounds as deeply as shame – it is at the root of many human conflicts. People who have been treated with ridicule – contempt – disdain – betrayal – abuse or abandonment – or received excessive punishment as children experience an almost continuous low grade of sense of humiliation and unworthiness.
Another quality of low self-esteem is the feeling of better than or less than in making comparisons between yourself and others. When you compare in a better than fashion – that’s arrogance – and less than is demeaning. No one is better than or less than – say – the drunk on skid road – or the homeless begging on the streets – but you can be more than – that is the key. Attempting to be perfect – a 10 – is arrogance – a “better than” attitude – whereas an 8 or 9 – excellence is usually good enough.
Because of strong feelings of self-doubt and self-mistrust – people who are metaphorically on “shaky stilts” – frequently apologize for themselves – or for their opinions or even for their existence – and will bend over backwards to please – in order to avoid any kind of rejection. Along the same line – a person with low estimate of themselves are fearful or change – they have a very narrow range in their comfort zone and will rarely make changes and step outside the box to challenge or confront a person whose ideas they may not agree with.
Because of their insecurities – like attracts like – people with low self-esteem levels usually end up with each other. You will rarely see a person with high self-esteem be in a partnership with – or marry someone who doesn’t value themselves. Relationships are marriages sometimes break up because one of the partners decides to be “more than”. He or she will take courses – read books – attend seminars and as they grow – and develop more emotional muscle – and inner strength – they sadly discover that they have little in common with their partner – who chooses to stay inside their narrow but safe comfort zone – and they move on.
As mentioned earlier – people with low self-esteem seek a sense of self-worth through trying to be popular and be people pleasers. They will acquire lots of toys and material acquisitions – try to improve their worth with cosmetic surgery – or sexual exploits and conquests. These so make us feel better – temporarily – and changing a part of one’s body image can contribute to a higher sense of worth – but again – self-esteem is best changed from the inside-out – not the other way around.
Another quality of persons with low self-estimates is that much of them is stuck in the child sub-personality. Psychiatrist Dr. Eric Berne – in his book – Games People Play – pointed out that everyone has three distinct sub-personalities. The first is the Child – which we are born with and is the spontaneous – self-centered – i.e. the world revolves around me – people are here to meet my needs – it is also the playful, fun loving – and sometimes helpless part of us. Around the age of two – with the development of speech – and the need for greater control – such as toilet training – we begin developing and internalizing our Parent sub-personality – the part that thinks in terms of good – bad – should – shouldn’t – right – wrong – no you can’t – yes you can – and so on. Around the ages of six o seven – we begin to acquire the qualities of the Adult – where decisions are made on the basis of consequences – rather than should – shouldn’t – right – wrong etc. In other words – our adult sub-personality is the beginning of responsibility (able to respond) accountability and consequences. We all have the three sub-personalities to varying degrees – for different experiences in life – like letting our “child” come out and play during vacation – or occasionally at conventions.
However – people with low self-esteem generally have an over-developed irresponsible – unreliable Child and they will attract someone with an over-developed Parent – critical – judgemental – punitive – rejecting. Well – you can imagine the ongoing scenario until one of them says enough! It is time to develop our Adult and stop the misery for both of us.
Thus – one cannot develop a sense of esteem or worth – if they are being told what to do – they can’t develop their own resources unless given the opportunity to make their own choices – mistakes and to learn and grow in the process. Thus – one must move out of the child or over-dominant parent into the adult – in order to bolster one’s sense of competence and power in the world. It was General Patton who was quoted as saying “If you tell people what needs to be done – but do not tell them how to do it – you would be amazed at the results”.
The final quality of low self-esteem is continuously arguing for your limitations – why things won’t work – why it’s too difficult – why it has never worked before – why there is no point in trying – why both – no one else cares – and so forth – and so on.
Just a brief reminder – of how the 70,000 or active receptors on our cells are tuned in to certain frequencies or signals. Some – to our external environment – but many of the receptor have been programmed to the resonance and frequency of our attitudes and beliefs. As we stop the mental frequency of say struggle and martyrhood – those receptors will stop triggering the release of stress hormones. As we begin breathing life into new ways of being in the world – more loving – more forgiving – less judgemental – other receptors will respond to the new frequencies – to the more empowering resonances – and will trigger the release of healing and feel good molecules – which in turn – will contribute to a greater sense of confidence to take the risk of making desire changes in our lives.
In our next blog – we will look at some of the qualities that people with high self-esteem share to varying degrees.