Chapter 5: Self-Esteem: How do I love me?


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Perfectly Imperfect 

Because I am mortal, perfect is being imperfect, but always striving for perfection.  

"The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection" Goethe

“When you stumble, make it part of the dance” Author unknown

The only difference between a perfectionist and a recovering perfectionist is this that you make up their mind that it’s okay for you to be imperfect. That’s all! In most everything you do, allow a margin for error. Mistakes are part of being human. Occasionally something must be perfect like when making out a resume. But most of the time the best you can do is enough. 

A perfectionist is someone who needs to be perfect in order to run from fear of failure. To a perfectionist 99% out of 100 is a failure or second place is not acceptable. Everything has to be perfect or face failure. 

How often does a person ever actually pull of something perfect?  Not very often. So if there is a belief that you can only be acceptable, worthy or lovable if you are perfect, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of more failure than you should normally feel which will only add to the problem. There are still times you will want and need to pull out the old perfectionistic hat. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s handy to have around. But, please, not too often. Intense and sustained perfectionism causes stress, health problems and misery. Just bring it out occasionally for special needs then put it back. Most of the time it’s okay to just be average and middle of the road. Less stress that way, too.

Letting go of perfectionism requires two things. 1) Heal the underlying belief that you are a failure, unworthy, not good-enough, bad, or whatever it is, and, 2) give you self permission to be imperfect and still consider yourself a good person anyway. Strive to be comfortable with where you are at the time and strive to improve. 

If others are upset with your human failings, then you can feel sorry for them because it means they hold themselves to that rigid standard of perfection they are trying to project on you. They are probably as hard on themselves and they are being on you.

Whatever comes out of a person’s mouth is usually about them, they are telling you who they are, not you. To allow another person’s opinion of you make your decisions for you is to give that other person power over you. 

With the exception of a one/up power position (such as employer to employee), take others opinions into consideration, mull them over. You may even want to others expectations of you on the back burner for more consideration later. If their comment has truth to it, be honest enough with yourself and take it to heart. 

When others criticize you or speak negatively about you, you can turn it into a gift. Here is an opportunity to see something about yourself you may not have noticed before, then make choices accordingly. Or, here is an opportunity to show yourself that no matter what others think or say about you, it is you who ultimately determines who you are, how you feel. If there is any truth to the criticism, if you have a good enough self esteem, you can apply the knowledge to make positive changes about yourself without feeling rejected or criticized.

Today it is okay for you to be imperfect because today you can perceive every mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow wiser. Paradox: Every mistake, takes you closer to perfection.

I believe one of the major reasons for this life is to experience imperfection. You can learn and grow from it or you can turn mistakes into a club and beat yourself and others up with it. It’s each individuals choice how they perceive and handle mistakes. 

Positive affirmations: “Today it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them.”

“I am still a good, intelligent, responsible person even if I am not perfect.”

“Today my good enough, is GOOD ENOUGH.”

“Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow.”

“I don’t have to be perfect yesterday, I only need to be moving towards perfection.”

Written by Helen Bair © 2010 


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Thoughts on Self-Esteem

  • Self Accountability
  • The ability to take criticism and learn from it rather than be devastated by it
  • Be assertive and practice assertive confrontation
  • Fairness
  • Setting boundaries and being confident to back yourself up
  • Self-reliance
  • Being able to admit you don’t know everything and being OK with that
  • Being teachable
  • Set boundaries, Say NO when you need to
  • Perfection is a process not a requirement in EVERYTHING you do NOW
  • Having the ability to ask for help if needed
  • The ability to connect with friends and other people knowing that you are taking a risk they might let you down or disappoint you in some way at some time. If you feel good enough about yourself, you can take the risk
  • Being able to accept a rejection without feeling like you are a REJECT
  • Taking responsibility for your own choicess experience, thoughts, feelings and the outcome ofyour life without having to hold others accountable for your choices
  • Being real and genuinely yourself at all times
  • Being comfortable in retaining yourself when others disagree with you or expect you to conform
  • Living according to your beliefs and values
  • Being comfortable with others being who they choose to be, even if their choice are different that what you would choose for them. (as long as their choices don’t violate yours or others rights or boundaries)
  • Living in reality and accepting life on life’s terms
  • Choosing the most positive perception of yourself in every circumstance you are in, and creating a happy repour with you in you
  • Self forgiveness
  • Accepting your limitations and weaknesses and work on improving them
  • Remaining centered when others threaten, confront or contradict you
  • Being teachable
  • Achievement but also being kind to yourself when you fall short, and trying again
  • Taking reasonable risks
  • Accepting failures as opportunities to grow and learn and try again
  • Self-care
  • Be fair to others
  • Taking time to care of your life and heath issues: proper nutrition, exercise, recreation, medical attention, appropriate clothing and gear, surrounding yourself with uplifting, supportive people and institutions
  • Think well of yourself, not to be better, but to realize you are just as good as others
  • Set reasonable goals and enjoy achieving them. If you don’t achieve them, give yourself credit for a good try
  • Believe you deserve to be happy
  • Pay attention to your inner voice that tells you what it will take to make yourself happy, then take action in that direction
  • Being comfortable with yourself whether you win or lose, whether you are the fastest or slowest, richest or poorest
  • A good and healthy opinion of yourself but recognizing and accepting your flaws
  • Think and feel well enough of your self that other peoples approval of you is appreciated and enjoyed but not required
  • Entertain only positive self talk and put the most positive perception on EVERYTHING
  • Attempt to control only those things you have control over
  • Appreciate small successes
  • Value your uniqueness and the differences in other people
  • Set and shoot for goals
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Practice imagining yourself as if you all ready are the person you want to be
  • Be your own best friend and internal advocate - Become to yourself the nurturing parent you always wish you had
  • Loving and forgiving yourself
  • If you are misjudged and have a low self esteem, you may try to hide, avoid, become violent, or gather supporters to side with you.
  • If you have a good self-esteem and have been misjudged, you can still move forward regardless of what others think. When you have a good self esteem, what others think of you is not about you it is about them. What other people think of you is none of your business.


In order for a person to be able to take risks, they must have a good, solid, intact self esteem, knowing that sometime they may win and sometimes they may lose. Afraid you may not get the job could keep you from ever applying for a job, thus getting NONE. Fear of being hurt in a relationship may keep some people from putting themselves into the dating scene, or asking out the person they REALLY want to date. Thus, that person who cannot take a risk for fear of loss, rejection or abandonment and done all of those things to himself. A good self esteem means you can remain in-tact with life’s ups and downs, successes and failures. It is the good self-esteem and your relationship with God that gets you through, not what others think of you or how they treat you. What you think of you ultimately determines your experience. Not what others think of you.

A good self esteem means you can take the NO’s and keep trying until something does work out for you.


What Self-Esteem is NOT:

  • Care-taking and rescuing in order to feel like you’re worth something because you are indispensable to others
  • Compliments from others
  • Someone falling in love with you
  • The illusion of grandiosity, or trying to be better than, or one-up others
  • Being with someone you think is worth more than you or makes you look good
  • Being perfect in every way right NOW
  • Self-reliance to the point of never having to depend on anyone else for anything
  • Having to prove you are better than
  • Receiving unconditional positive regard at all time and from all people
  • Comparing or fault-finding to raise the opinion of yourself while tearing others down
  • Your looks, money, owning more or bigger accomplishments than others
  • Sexual conquest
  • Quoting 1,000 positive affirmations to yourself daily
  • Arrogance or a big ego or trying to be better than others
  • Drug or alcohol induced self confidence
  • Winning is all there is. Second place is not acceptable
  • Creating an external, acceptable mask for the world to see, to hide what’s really inside
  • Lots of accomplishments
  • Pointing out how successful you have been
  • Pointing out others failings
  • Being selfish or self-centered, comparative
  • Thinking that you deserve special privilege
  • Determining who I am or what I believe from charismatic peole instead of myself
  • Selfishness
  • The clothes you wear
  • Comparative/Competition
  • Selfishness/Self-centeredness


"People with fragile self-esteem compensate for their self-doubts by engaging in exaggerated tendencies to defend, protect and enhance their feelings of self-worth." ~ Michael Kernis of University of Georgia.

“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get, you’ve got to make yourself.” ~ Alice Walker

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything.~ Marva Collins

Written and compiled by Helen Bair (A work in progress) ©2010 3

“When we appreciate the true nature of self esteem, we see that it is not competitive or comparative. It is not about making myself higher by making you lower. It has nothing to do with you. It is joy in my own being.” ~ Nathaniel Branden

Criticism is a destroyer of self worth and esteem. ~ H. Burke Peterson

Self worth cannot be verified by others. You are worthy because you say it is so. If you depend on others for your value it is other-worth. ~ Wayne Dyer 

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Risks  (It requires a good self esteem to take risks)

To laugh - is to risk appearing the Fool
To weep - is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another - is to risk involvement
To expose feelings - is to risk exposing your true self
To place ideas, your dreams before a crowd - is to risk their loss
To love - is to risk not being loved in return
To live - is to risk dying
To hope - is to risk despair
To try - is to risk failure
But risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing
does nothing - has nothing - and is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot
learn - feel - change - grow - love - live
Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave;
They have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

~Codependency recovery handout material


A START

“Each day I promise myself not to try to solve all of my life problems at once. Nor shall I expect you to do so.” We’re going to take one tick at a time.

“Starting each day, I shall try to learn something new about myself and about you and about the world I live in, so that I may continue to experience all things as if they have been newly born.” Because every single day of our lives, every moment of that day is a new happy birthday. It is. Every time you learn something or experience something new, you emerge as something new. That’s the wonderful thing about being alive.

“Staring each day, I shall remember to communicate my joy as well as my despair so that we can know each other better.” In honest communication.

“Starting each day, I shall strive to be more aware of the beautiful things in our world.” Like flowers and cool breezes and dewdrops on leaves and people’s faces and good food and share these things with you. I want to share my spring.

“Starting each day, I shall remind myself to reach out and touch you gently with my words, with my eyes, with my fingers, because I don’t want to miss feelings you.” Because if you don’t touch, you’re out of touch.

Starting each day, I shall again dedicate myself to becoming intimate with you and with the world and with God in the broadest sense of the word. I am willing to risk and then see what happens.

~12-step recovery handout material 


Don’t be afraid to fail

You’ve failed many times,
although you may not remember
You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim,

didn’t you?
Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat?

Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.

R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.

English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also 714 home runs.

Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss

when you don’t even try.

~A message as published in the Wall Street Journal by United
Technologies Corporation, hartford, Connecticut 06101
 


“If you have a bad thought about yourself, tell it to go to hell because that is exactly where it came from.” ~Brigham Young



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~The originator of many of these articles & flyers, unknown