Thursday, July 3, 2014

Self Esteem

I get an email everyday from a friend who has me on their email list.
It is recovery related and I try and read it everyday.
Somedays I am so busy traveling, I forget and then these emails sit waiting for me.
When I see at least 2 of them, I feel bad and read them both immediately.
I'm funny like that, but I am sure we all are like this.
I read a lot of different little books to spark my spiritual experience everyday.
I try and switch it up and maybe one week or month I am reading recovery related literature,
maybe next month I am reading the Dalai Lama or some Buddhist material or some Deepak Chopra.
Just trying to keep my mind focused on the spiritual picture.
Somedays this material is nice and I like what I read and I think about it and then I move on into my day and maybe it is only in my subconscious, it's still there and it helps when I need it.
Other days I am really awe struck by the simplicity of "remembering" what I have read, like I already know this instinctually and it really makes an impact.
But then sometimes I am not reading things well. I am confused and just kind of doing my spiritual job, if you will.  It's all a little fuzzy. The world is on my mind and I am not focusing.
I am struggling in my life with a relationship or a problem financially or business and my mind will
not stop obsessing and I cannot really get the spiritual information into my brain, there is not enough room.  This is when I need direction most.  But when I cannot focus, I tend to put it aside and I stop reading or praying because I have too many "real" problems to deal with.
Obviously after enough obsession, I relinquish and get back to reading my literature, praying and meditating. I force myself to stop thinking and start breathing.  Slowly I see the light.
As I start to make progress in my own mind, I choose to read one of my books or emails and suddenly
I have found the answer to my problem. It's amazing, and it works every time.
Just what I need to hear is waiting for me, exactly when I need it the most.

Which brings me to Self Esteem.  Something few of us probably consider much as busy working adults.  It's seems like it's something we think about when teaching our kids values and instilling in our coming of age children.  Self Worth, the value of of who we are in our mind.
Obviously, Self Esteem is a part of every living human being.
We feel a certain way about ourselves, positive and negative at certain times and in certain situations,
around certain people and overall in life on planet earth.
When we handle life's challenges well and with confidence, we feel good about ourselves and
feel worthy of happiness.  When we behave badly and selfishly, or act cowardly to the world around us, we feel depressed and not worthy of happiness.
It's all a bit of self conscious manipulation.
We might feel we are good at certain things and that makes us feel good about ourselves,
very specific, but we might in general feel we are a bad person and not feel good about ourselves.
What I find personally is that overall I feel good about myself today.
I am not perfect, I am flawed and have character defects, but overall I forgive myself for being human
and give myself a break. I try to do my best and in the end I do not always succeed.
But I never give up on trying to be better, do better and learn from my mistakes.
I have learned to forgive myself for my past and let it go. I have cleaned up my side of the street
and it's time to move on.  But just as I stated earlier, self esteem can be very specific and related
to particular relationships and behaviors.  I have a particular relationship that is never going to be
a true success.  (I am down to one in my life, isn't that amazing!)
It involves my past and when it flares up it reminds me of the "old" me.
I become flustered with shame and my self esteem goes out the window.
It bruises easily.   I get angry and defensive and try and reason with unreasonable.
The argument may be very valid, but it brings up old feelings of resentment and pain.
Suddenly, I am truly feeling like I have no self worth. I am not a good person.
I wrap up in the warmth of self loathing and hide for a day or so.........just like I would when
I was actively using and drinking......but without the chemicals anymore (THANK GOD).
Still this is classic "Stinking Thinking" - thank you Al Franken.
I walk around arguing and pouting and spouting and angry for a day or two.
So as aforementioned, I finally get back into reading some positive literature and wouldn't you know
it, the email I get from my friend is about "Self Esteem".
I read it and it changes EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY.
My self esteem is tied to this relationship based on history of bad behavior and experience and I re-experience the same feelings over and over and over every time this relationship flares up.  I do not choose to bring the "New and Improved Mike" to this old relationship, I become the old shitty version instantly. This is true Conditioning. It is sub-conscious. I have no idea I am making this choice, I think it's just "happening" to me, but I am clearly making the choice to feel this way. I am responsible.
Suddenly, I "wake up"....I ask myself what I am doing wrong here. Usually what I am doing is not wrong at all. The decision I have made that makes the relationship flare up is not wrong at all.
The negative response from the other party is their problem, not mine. What I am doing wrong is falling back into old behavior and as soon as the other party is not happy, I try and "Please" them, because I feel like a piece of shit all over again from all of these old negative experiences.
The more I try and please, the more suffering I cause myself.
I initially say "NO" and then I try and explain and excuse myself when they are not happy with "NO".
Thats when the self esteem drops to zero and I get depressive.
It's all my fault, no other person is at fault here. I am responsible for my feelings and my actions.
Finally I pick myself by the bootstraps, wash myself off, forgive myself for being human and move on.
I stop explaining and excusing and just let things be.
It's all a learning process and I guess and hope I will never stop learning.
Less thinking and more doing, thats the ticket.  Make the right decision, do my best and let go.
I cannot make everyone happy, it's just not possible and super egocentric if I think that I could.
I try my best from here on out to bring my happiness worthy - self esteem to all of my relationships and experience as best I can.  If I am making good choices, I don't have to explain anything to anyone.
If they don't think I am making good choices, thats fine, it's not my business what they think anyway.

I am thankful for the literature that saves my ass every time, at the right time.
I am thankful for the pain in the ass relationships that continue to teach me to be a better person.

I am thankful to be happy today and feel good about myself, I hope you are too.