As an empath I think my ability to be vulnerable. You wouldn’t think so, I never did either until I received an email the other day that made me cry.
I was interviewing people for a job position and in walked this brilliant young man who had everything going for him. I could feel his sadness. I asked why with his resume stacked to the roof was he asking for this job. He said “I need a break”. He thought I was going to say no thanks, but I looked at him and recognized him as me. So I hired him.
He told me in that email that he was on the verge of ending everything and I gave him that glimmer he needed. As we got to know each other I would share hard things and he said that changed his life. You can recover and heal from trauma and move on with your life. He told me I changed everything and he was grateful.
You don’t always know the impact you have on people. We circle around people, say and do things that alter people good or bad, I always think its good. Even the bad stuff you learn from and in some ways you learn more than you would have if it was good.
I will likely never see that young man again but I think of him often and always with huge love for him. He is changing the world with his greatest strength – vulnerability.
What kinds of things hurt self esteem? How can you discourage these activities?
It’s easy to blame someone for your lack of self-esteem. This maybe true for children who depend on the adults in their life to be truth tellers and caregivers (not care takers). Once we become adults it is important to stop looking backwards and blaming the adults in your life for where you are. Reconciling with yourself is life changing. Acknowledging the adults in your life were not what you needed but who you got and its up to you to make the most of it. Be the adult to yourself that you always needed. Once you move past blaming and resentment and start accepting, you can move past the things that hurt your self-esteem.
Anger, hurt and blame maintain chaos. Acceptance and moving past by self-care is peaceful and freeing. It took a long time to get here. Once you can be the adult you needed, its easier to be the adult others need. Fill your well so you can give to others.
I think self-love is the most under-rated quality that you can possess. My ex never thought it was a good idea to have self-esteem. It made you arrogant and egotistical. I disagree. People who exhibit those qualities behave that way to build themselves up. They need constant validation. Loving yourself is the best gift you can give yourself. When you love yourself your well is full. Then you can give more of yourself.
I began looking myself in the mirror and said nice things to me. Sounds bonkers, I know, but hearing yourself speak truths is uplifting. I do this before bed so its the last thing I hear while I sleep in a effort to raise my vibration. Everything I say to me begins with ‘I am…’ It is very similar to saying a sankalpa during meditation except you say it so you can hear, not just think it.
I read once your soul doesn’t know the difference and will believe everything you tell it. Give yourself some loving kindness and try this before bed for a 21 days. Look yourself in the eye and repeat these:
I am kind
I am smart
I am beautiful
I am happy
I love you
I promise you will sleep better and little by little you will notice a difference in your relationships, your work and your general happiness. It takes time to undo the words and beliefs other people told you that you are. Remember, you are what you say you are. No one gets to decide that.
I also started throwing in I am wealthy because … the Universe is always listening.
Who are the other people? My friends? My coworkers? My family? My extended family? Strangers?
Everyone sees me differently. I use vulnerability to connect with people. Some people view that as a ploy for me to further myself. Some people view that as a safe quality – it makes them feel comfortable around me. Those are the people I like. They are like me. I learn from those other people. I learn some people don’t want to be around me. Maybe I make them uncomfortable by holding up a mirror and they don’t like what they see. Or maybe they just don’t vibe with me.
My point is, it is none of your business how people see you. It is their business. Just keep on being your authentic self and things will be fine. It is stressful to pretend to be someone else so you get people to like you. Get over that. Find your people. Be yourself. Do nice things. Be good to you.
As we get deeper into these questions, they feel a little repetitive. Maybe that is the point. Keep telling yourself that you love you until you believe it.
I am comfortable being alone. In fact, I love it. I am an introvert. That doesn’t make me shy. Introvert means my energy is depleted in a crowd of people or when I am with energy vampires. Working from home during the pandemic has me living my best life. I like the quiet. I can get lots done and I don’t feel like someone is sucking the energy from me dementor style. I enjoy my own company and get my best thinking done alone.
I am a risk taker. People are not mind readers. You need to ask for what you want. This is risky and puts you in a vulnerable position. But it is helpful too. If I don’t want something I express that. If I do want something – I will say it out loud. Tell someone. They might be able to help. Tell the Universe. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything about it. Take a risk.
I am a dreamer. My grade one teacher Mrs. Long used to tell my parents I day dream too much. No I don’t. Stop blaming me because your class was boring. I used daydreaming to solve problems, think about what I want in the future or just put myself into a movie of my own making. It kept me out of trouble and I wasn’t bothering anyone. Lots of teachers were interesting and I would stay focused in their class. I can sit for long periods of time in stillness but my mind is super active planning out my future, coming up with new ideas or sometimes thinking about a scenario I wish I could have done different. I am learning from all of those scenarios. Dreaming is what makes the world better.
How about you? What three things do you love about yourself?
Of the people in your life, who makes you feel the most confident?
The hubs. I suppose your life partner should be the one you feel safest with. I know that isn’t always true. I was married before to a class A selfish abusive rat-bastard. That relationship was the opposite of instilling confidence. I went through a series of people in my life who were allowed – by me – to treat me like hot garbage. There was a deep something that was comforting about this. I knew what to expect. Knowing what to expect – even bad – was comforting. How sad is that? Feeling bad because you know what to expect. Abuse messes you up.
The hubs held space for me to explore all kinds of feelings and experiences. He was constant. Was? IS. I had a terrible “friend” once say my hubs was a good guy like it was a surprise. He is. We are a good team. He is the anchor while I go out and try new things and either fall or fly. He is there to cheer or give me Band-Aids. Our relationship has evolved into something I can’t explain but its really good. Twenty five years this June.
Write about a unique quality you have that makes you special.
What unique quality….. This is a tough one. I am sure if I asked you, you would each say something different. But I am going with problem solver. I am a unique problem solver.
If 2020 has taught me anything, it showed me that I can pivot and problem solve. My job requires me to be creative, always has. This year I had to reimagine how we do things and I am not going to lie – it was hard. The same old thing is easy and safe. New things require unknown. Many times this year I wish I had a crystal ball to see if my idea was a good one. I am lucky I work somewhere that is okay with trying new things and okay with not getting it right every time. Doing something new can be scary as hell. Nine times out of ten it will be worth it for no other reason than you learned something.
My yearly evaluation had a comment that stuck with me. Reframe how you look at things, not always what we can’t do, but what we can do. At the time it felt like deep criticism. It wasn’t but it felt that way. I let fear hold me back. I am scared of producing something then having someone get sick because they trusted me. It’s a heavy burden to stack on my shoulders. It isn’t just an event, it is something that can permanently impact someone’s life. That is a big deal.
I have always reframed how I look at things, but my evaluation showed me that I stopped and let fear decide what is okay. In meditation, a reoccurring theme comes up: Allowing. Allow things to unfold. This is a big change from controlling the outcome. Allowing implies I set things in motion and wait to see what happens. That is my plan. I think I solved the problem, I have been creative about it, now just wait to see the outcome. I think it will help me sleep better because I am not trying to control every last detail.
Back to the original statement: Write about a unique quality you have that makes you special.
I am a creative problem solver. Not everyone is, but I am. Does that make me unique? Maybe in some circles but it is a quality about myself that I like.
How do your parents encourage you to be more confident?
To find this answer, I need to think back a ways. I have excellent parents. They encouraged us to explore the world, try new things and be independent. I definitely do all of those things. Getting there was trickier.
There was a time when failure was a frightening prospect for me. Now I know there is not failure, there are learnings. I was working on a task assigned to me by my grandfather. I was doing it but not in the precise way he demanded it should be done. Think Mr. Miyagi and paint the fence with yelling. I was lectured (the kind way to say yell) for a significant amount of time until I was reduced to tears. My mom came by and found me and I shared the entire story. This is the part where she transformed like the hulk. Those mythical stories of moms becoming mama bears right before your eyes. She stood up to her dad and defended me, my knowledge and my process. Not everyone needs to accomplish something in the same way. Its the process that teaches you something not the outcome. I learned a few things that day. My mom always had my back, trying something new teaches you things and don’t let bullies tear you down. My grandfather never yelled at me again. He challenged me often, but I had the confidence to stand my ground and explain why I was proceeding in that way.
I remember going to my dad, very upset about a scenario that happened in my classroom as a young teacher. A parent (one out of thirty) was not pleased by the way I conducted my classroom. My dad had been a teacher for decades by that point and I knew he would have the wisdom to help through the problem. I was trying to be everything to everyone, an impossible task but I didn’t want to let anyone down. My dad said, “You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If they don’t like it, invite them to go to the school down the street. This is your classroom. Set the tone.” That was the kind of advice that works in every situation. Be okay with no. If someone doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean you should have said yes. Set boundaries and stick with it. It has taken me years to set firm boundaries in every corner of my life. But I am a happier person for it. Plus my life is way more peaceful than it used to be.
Set the tone, be the captain of your own ship and write your own chapters. I am not everyone’s type of people but they aren’t mine either. I think my parents did a good job. No one would ever accuse me of not having confidence. It doesn’t mean I am good at everything – ha, not even close, but I am willing to try because there is much to be gain from the experience.
How did your parents encourage you to be more confident? Stay healthy friends!
Like many people, accepting compliments is a tough job for me. So many people I know brush them away instead of embracing them. I was no exception. Then somewhere along the way I started saying ‘Thank you’. People who gave them felt good for giving it and I began to believe what these people were saying.
I hear ‘you are so creative’ a lot. Thank you, creativity is my bread and butter. One time, a man named Tiger told me my hair was beautiful and he asked if he could touch it. I am not going to lie, I swooned. But that wasn’t even the greatest compliment. I value brains. I like being smart. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor (acoustic neuroma) I was petrified that I would lose what I perceive as my greatest asset, my critical thinking ability.
Years ago I was in a meeting with some friends and I came up with an idea. I was told I was ‘bloody brilliant’. I held this close to me. I don’t hear it often but when I hear ‘you are clever or smart’ something happens to me. It elevates my soul. I even get a little cocky (not cool – it can happen to the best of us). Hearing a compliment like that did something to me. I wanted to pay it forward. Now I make a solid effort to compliment and elevate people around me. I tend to focus on women because they hear superficial compliments all the time like ‘you are beautiful or pretty or that dress looks good on you’ or worse ‘you look like you lost weight’ (look, all weight related compliments are actually fat shaming – and fuck you- no one wants to hear that if they are dealing with an eating disorder so just stop it. It isn’t a compliment). We all know those ‘pretty’ compliments don’t mean anything. Well, not to me. I try to elevate others by complimenting them on problem solving, or creative solutions or even for being funny. A genuine compliment does something special to people. I like the way it makes me feel – so why shouldn’t I share that feeling?
Tell me the best compliment you ever received and stay healthy friends!