During the past several days I have been thinking about the topic of self-esteem. Last night I attended a meeting and the topic of self-esteem was tabled for discussion. As I listened, reflected and thought about my own experience I realized that several key components had played a significant role in my pursuit of self-esteem. Performance and relationships.
My drive to be accepted by people to define my worth and value as a person dominated my behavior for many years. In the process, I discarded parts of myself in an attempt to be OK with other people and myself. In actuality, I was driven by the notion that I needed to make you OK with me, so that I knew you and I were OK , before I could hope to be ok with myself. This behavior manifested itself in all my relationships and in the process undermined my ability to be at peace with myself.
In the process I traded my opinion for the opinion of the people. The consequence of such behavior left me in a spiritual and emotional disarray. In the process I traded serenity for the hope of creating peace between other people and myself so that I could have peace with myself.
Through my process I began to realize that I had become dependent upon the moods of other people. In my dependence I strove through performance to “fix” other people in an attempt to garnish self-esteem and self acceptance. As a traumatic brain injury survivor with an invisible disability I became a convenient scapegoat for other people’s irritability and discontent. Consequently, in my attempt to compensate for my invisible deficits and limitation, as well as my low or non existent-self-esteem; I strove all the more in an attempt to achieve self-esteem and in the process, self-acceptance.
What I discovered through my process was that the concept of self esteem and self acceptance were foreign to me. At the time, I had no idea that I was attempting to have a self, much less an acceptance of myself. What I discovered through my process was that in my attempt (s) to garnish my self esteem from other people, I undermined my ability to have a self that I could esteem and accept. What I discovered, through my process; was that I had willingly given my self-esteem and self-worth into the hands of people, who were unable to esteem or accept me for who I was as an individual.
With my awareness I slowly began to realize that I no longer needed to set myself up to have low-self esteem — by looking to other people to validate my worth and value. I slowly began to realize that I could learn how to detach myself from what other people thought of me. I slowly began to realize that I did not have to base my self-esteem and my self-worth on what other people thought of me. I slowly began to realize that I needed to begin to define who I was (am) as an individual. I slowly began to realize that my self-esteem and self-acceptance were never meant to come from outside of me.
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