Bert’s therapy (#16): Self-esteem

I have low self esteem.  I want high self-esteem. 

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therapist (1)

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Can you help me with that?

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Nope.

therapist (2)

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Why not?

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I don’t believe in it.

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High self-esteem?

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Right.  It’s a myth.

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Why?2

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People think they’re supposed have it.  Then they feel inadequate when they don’t.

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bert (6)

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But I’ve never had it, and I’ve never known anyone who has.

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Really?

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Really.

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Some people say they have it.

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Yeah.  I don’t believe them.  I assume they’re lying.  Or… 

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… they’re narcissists, hiding a secret emptiness.  Or…

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…they just lack self-awareness.

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How so?

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Anyone with self-awareness knows how screwed-up they are.

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ber

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They know how often they operate out of ignorance, and selfishness, and fear… 

 

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bert

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…how regularly they fall short of their own aspirations…

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bert

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…and they can provide you with a long list of their mistakes, failures and disappointments.  1

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bert (11)

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If they can’t, they’re in denial.  Because screwed-up is the human condition. 

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And “high self-esteem” is an unrealistic goal.  So stop chasing it.1

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What should I chase instead?

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Try self-acceptance. 

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What’s the difference? 14)

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Self-esteem says, “I’m wonderful.” Self-acceptance says, “I’m not wonderful, but I can live with it.”1

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Sorry to disappoint you.

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….

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I can live with it.

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Want more?

The mess of life is our mess.  Questions of self-esteem are a waste of time, a diversion we can ill afford.  There is more mess of things to make ahead; some of them will be our great teachers, some will cause us to grow, and some will bring the fullness of failure to bear on the encounter with the mystery.  Great meaning will often come from such dismal moments; they are our moments, our meaning, and we will be entitled to them because we have paid dearly for them.   

James Hollis, in Creating a life: Finding your individual path.

 

 

 

 

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15 responses to “Bert’s therapy (#16): Self-esteem

  • Cheryse Durrant

    We are all wonderful, but we’re also flawed and imperfect. Once we accept that we are wonderful, are talented (especially once we put in the work), but that we’re also flawed and imperfect… that’s when we can manifest great things in our lives. One simple, calm step at a time.

    • fritzfreud

      Cheryse, I respect the sentiment behind your words, truly. But I’m uncomfortable with your language. My dictionary defines “wonderful” as “extraordinarily good or great.” Which means calling everyone wonderful is essentially calling the ordinary extraordinary, which doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s the sort of well-meant but inflated language that leads to reassuring all kids that they”re “winners” (before they’ve actually won anything) and calling anyone you admire a “hero” — a sort of psychological boosterism trying to pass as profundity. As a therapist I’d much rather help clients face and accept their imperfection than slather it over with a bromide.

  • attachmentgirl

    Where we’re you 20 years ago?! Do you have any idea how much time and effort I could have saved by reading this sooner? 🙂 What an amazingly succient, yet powerful description of what we SHOULD be aiming for. Thank you so much for this. AG

    • fritzfreud

      Where was I twenty years ago?
      Trying to raise my own self-esteem.
      As the old saying goes, too soon old, too late smart.
      But I’m glad you liked the post.

  • Self Esteem « Tales of a Boundary Ninja

    […] Bert’s Therapy: Self-Esteem Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Categories: Uncategorized Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback […]

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk

    I really like this line, “Anyone with self-awareness knows how screwed-up they are.” It definitely gave me a chuckle and the words are so true. Self acceptance is reality based and allows us to be our authentic self, which can be challenging at times. Great post, I enjoyed it.

  • Roger T. Strachan, Ph.D.

    Steve: go you one better. You are who you are. No value. Not self esteem and not screwed up! Then self acceptance is easy. Culture is the only seat of value. The church calls behavior it does not like sin and Psychology calls it sick.

    Did you read the papers I sent you? I will send them again. see below for contact.

    Roger Strachan

    Web Site: centerforcreativechoice.com
    E-mail – cccrogert@gmail.

    • fritzfreud

      Yes, that sounds true to me, though (given how consciousness is structured) also impossible to experience as a felt reality.

      Sorry for taking so long in replying. I plan to.

  • attachmentgirl

    Just a PS Steve, I just started my own blog a few weeks ago, and you’re on my blogroll. I also took the liberty of putting up a post on my blog to this post because this principle was so important to my healing, and I thought a lot of people could benefit by reading it. AG

  • john

    Thanks Steve, Makes me realize how important self awareness is

  • Helen Bahoosh

    Wow, I really, really like that! Thanks Bert… and thanks for sharing this AG.

    Hele

  • Have Courage

    After ALL these year’s of working on my “self-esteem” and JUST when i thought i was cracking it…………phew.. Boy AM I going to sleep tonight!! Thanks great blog.

  • Learner Identity: Why Self Esteem Is Destroying Adults' Ability to Learn — New Catholic Evangelization

    […] are self esteem and self concept. Educators tend to focus almost exclusively on self esteem. And this is a big mistake. While self esteem can influence learning, sometimes in powerful ways, it takes a back seat to its […]

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