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Re: Lott: My T never taught me self esteem.

Posted by rabble_rouser on August 2, 2005, at 13:31:24

In reply to Lott: My T never taught me self esteem., posted by Angela2 on August 1, 2005, at 17:22:45

Hi Angela,

I really wanted to reply to your post. I am sorry it is very long. When you first read it, you may be tempted to ignore it as its a bit different from what many people say. I have found it to be very helpful, so please read through to the end, and I hope it may help you too.

When I first started therapy, I was attracted by the whole idea of it being 'someone else's fault' and could hide behind that. However all this did was permit me to remain the same. What I learned lately is harder to swallow, as, although it still doesnt blame you, it requires you to adopt of position of adult responsibility for yourself. This second view has been so much more powerful.

I wanted to share something from a book I am reading, by a psychologist called Windy Dryden. He presents a different theory from self esteem (SE), and argues that it is flawed because you are simply moving from a place where you define yourself, a complex humaan with many different facets, as globally bad, to a place where you define yourself as globally good. Both are wrong because as humans we have good and bad running through us.

Dryden argues the principle of Self-Acceptance instead. I hope that some of these ideas are helpful to you as they have been to me:

1. As a human being, you cannot legitimately be given a single rating, but only parts of you can be rated.

2. Human beings are by their nature fallible and unique. As a human it is right that you are fallible and unique - in fact you MUST be.

3. You are equal to other human beings in terms of shared humanity, but some of your individual parts may be unequal to some other human beings.

4.When you accept yourself, you avoid the error of overgeneralisation - that is, globalising one small part of you to your whole being.

5.Unconditional self-acceptance is linked with a flexible, preferential philosophy. E.g instead of saying "My boyfriend must treat me with love and respect" - a demand which, if unsatisfied, leads to depression, you might say "I would prefer it if my boyfriend showed me love and respect in the way that I have asked him to, but there is no rule of the universe that says he must".

It is an odd law of human beings that, the less you need them, the more attracted they are to you. This last philosophy is very powerful from this perspective.

6.Unconditional self acceptance is difficult and requires hard work.

7. Internalising self-acceptance requires force and energy.

I found this useful because it made me look at myself in a new way. I was not saying "when I am perfect and when I love myself, then everything will be ok". I was saying "I am the way I am for a good reason. The past is not my fault and I am not to blame, even for the mistakes I made. I am where I am today, and I make a choice to change any behaviours that do not help me in the future"

When I grasped the concepts, it felt like a clean slate. It is a little like the buddhist mindset which says you are already perfect, and just as you should be. Then you can work on building your SKILLS, without the weight of past pain. Maybe at the moment you can grasp it intellectually, but you dont feel it 'deep down'. It takes a while to really grasp it internally - hence the lines about hard work.

One of the most liberating phrases I ever learned was this:

"I am worthy because I live and breathe. I am a fallible human being, and as such I should make mistakes, because from them I learn. I can apply myself to learn new skills, but my success or failure in so doing can never change my inherent worth"

I am not sure what your therapists aims are. I would hope that, if the above philosophy makes sense to you, it may now seem that you would only prefer your boyfriend act in certain ways.

If you say "he MUST do x", and then doesnt, you experience pain and anger. If you are saying, "I would like him to do x, but as he is fallible he may not do it". What you feel now is disappointment, but not rage and depression. This gives you choice, and more internal power because you will be more in control of your emotions.

Your therapist has given you some 'choices' in the form of boundary statements, which you can use as a result of stating your preference to him. There are many choices open to you all the time, and I have found that when I live by PREFERENCES, I am more likely to make a decision that is healthy for me.

Similarly, you would have preferred not have done things that you feel upset your parents, but you are human, and you did. Now you are in a place where you can make choices about what to do next without coming from a position of weakness.

I hope some of the above has been helpful - all of the above has helped me and I wanted to share it.






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