My friend just wrote this to me about last week’s blog, “What would you recommend as the best remedial-my self worth sucks and I don't even know where to begin but it needs work-book?” I had to laugh, as I am most likely the last person that should ever give advice on self-esteem. But then again I could be classified as an expert in the field of self-disgust and so with that said I agree to make some suggestions.
The word “self esteem,” just sounds so co-dependent and Lifetime Network to me that I’d prefer to change the term to something more like self-love. It a nutshell self esteem means to have a realistic respect or favorable impression of oneself. In other words have self-esteem requires you to have self-respect. Self-love allows you to have self-esteem but also allows a person to promote his or her own welfare or well-being.
The best suggestion I have for a self-esteem book is one that you write yourself. All of us have all the answers we need about life within ourselves. It’s so much easier to read a book or ask for advice when we have run out of options. We as humans like the path of least resistance I know I do. When you pour your thoughts on paper, you open your soul to a private confidant that never judges or gives feedback. The paper helps us to remember who we are and sometimes when we re-read things, we have written it’s as if a veil is lifted from our eyes. We see things we have never seen before and our own words serve as that light of the soul.
I know most people are not fond of writing. It pains some to think of forced writing assignments in school or having to write great aunt Bernice to thank her for the raccoon fur socks. Writing does not have to be perfect or meticulous. It does not have to be a chore. You do not have to worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar problems. Writing is a great tool to learn to forgive yourself of past wrongs and self hatred.
For years self-esteem has been an issue that I have only recently been able to conquer and I must admit I am not completely there yet myself. Words are something I have a hard time shaking from my head. I have a tendency to replay things that were said to me years and years ago. I know that anything anyone says to me is based on how they feel at the moment. I cannot take anything personally, though being human I sometimes do. I know when people are ugly it’s not about me it’s about them.
With that said, I do have trouble of letting go of comments that touch a sore spot in my soul. We all have sore spots. Some of us feel fat, inadequate, cursed or may feel we are bad people. My sore spot is feeling pretty. I have had this sore spot as long as I can remember. I really don’t know where or how it began, but nonetheless it is an emotion I have never felt. I am working on liking what I see in the mirror, but sometimes it is a struggle. So when in my last relationship my ex said that I was so ugly that nobody would ever want me in their life, part of me believed it must be true because it again wounded that sore spot I had built up.
Last week I spoke about the Sanskrit word samyojana. It means to crystallize. We have these emotional formations that build within our consciousness. I recall when I was about six years old a close family member made a reference that my cousin was the pretty girl in the family. That started one small wound or one small formation in my mind. I remember my Kindergarten teaching loathing me and referring to me looking like a boy. That comment made another formation. So as time went on my formations became so strong that being ugly became my Achilles tendon it was my spot to easily wound me with. Because it was something that had crystallized within me, I also came to project my fears outwardly. If anyone knew me when I was a teenager, it would have been apparent that I was not sure of myself.
We all have crystallized formations that have built up over time that affect how we see ourselves. It has been such a blessing that the rest of the world does not see me through my own eyes!
My best advice is to learn to take your emotional wounds and fears as an opportunity for growth. When you are in a low and dark place rejoice that you are at a malleable point to break some of those nasty crystallizations. You can consciously choose to kick your crappy self-esteem in the ass and shout, “Up yours!” What purpose does self-doubt or hatred serve you that could possibly be beneficial in any way shape or form?
I was reading Oprah’s magazine in the tub one day and there was an article about women who were asked to write a letter to themselves. They had to visualize this letter would be sent back in time to their teenage self. It made me think. What would I at now 38 say to my 18 year old self 20 years in the past? This is what I would write.
You are going to have an amazing life. You might be overwhelmed for most of it, but please enjoy every moment of it. Please know that you are smart. You are kind and you are so pretty. Please don’t allow yourself to become a victim of anyone’s words or anger. It’s never okay to be physically abused and it’s not okay to hate yourself for it. Someday you will be a wonderful mother and three amazing children. Your life long dream to write a book will come true and you will open your heart and soul to love and be loved. Your life at times may seem hard but none of it will kill you. You will learn to stand on your own two feet and you will be happy. Please remember to write and walk outside, it will save your life more than you know. Please know that you are never alone and that you are loved. When you are overwhelmed ask for help or hire people to help you. You cannot do everything all by yourself. Be happy.
You might feel like writing a letter to your teenage self as a path to healing. Writing does not require you to sit for hours. You can write a few thoughts or sentences when picking up your kids at school or while having a cup of coffee at Starbucks. You might jot one or two things down before bed or at the kitchen table. You don’t have to do it everyday. When you read through the pages of your journal you get a beautiful picture of your soul your hurts and your worries. When you see your feelings in writing it allows you to free them.
If you still need a book to help heal, I suggest, “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha.” It’s an amazing and powerful book by Tara Brach. I also suggest “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz or “Letting go of the Person you used to be,” by Lama Sura Das.
I send all of you much love and happiness.