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Self Esteem

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:50 am
by Chariot
Hi everyone.

I'm almost embarrassed to write about this issue, but it's one that keeps coming up. For as long as I can remember, I've had this issue of self esteem and worthiness that keeps showing up. I keep getting this nagging thought that there's something I need to do or achieve in order to feel worthy or at peace.

This thought creates a nervous constricted uneasy feeling in my solar plexus region. It's a thought that says I'm not living up to some greater inner potential, and it often gets triggered when watching television. Other times it happens when seeing someone else experiencing something I'd like to experience and I feel bad.

The catch is that on some level I feel it's really some sort of a mind trick. It's like some part of me knows that even if I were to achieve these things, it still wouldn't be enough, and I'd still feel inadequate or incomplete. The thing is, I feel frustrated because it keeps coming up and it's an energy drain or blockage. On some level I can see what's happening, but even though I can see it, it doesn't stop these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings from happening. It's like these thoughts are on auto pilot, and all it takes is an external trigger to activate them.

So, I guess I could use some insight regarding what is happening with all of this.
Thanks, and I already feel much better in just having typed this...:)

Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:53 pm
by Quinn
Hi Chariot,

In the book "Why Buddhism?", the author tells of when she was involved in one of the very early group interviews by Westerners with the Dalai Lama and one person asked him about self-esteem. He had to have it explained - didn't understand the concept.

It seems to be a Western phenomenon, possibly because of our Christian heritage of original sin. This idea that when I err, I'm a bad person. When I 'do it right', I'm a good person. It's pervasive in our society. No need to be embarrassed, Chariot, we inherited it or somehow absorbed it! When I first began to observe my thinking, I was shocked at how much berating was going on. It was almost constant.

Just observing loosened it's grip on me, but only a little bit. It helped me to throw in some common sense thoughts - especially at first. Like I'd tell myself, "Would you talk to a friend like this?" Picture that you have a friend that, say, needed to exercise but wasn't doing it. Would you tell them, "You're a lazy idiot!" (or whatever version of that goes on in your head). So why not treat ourselves as a friend? Why not show ourselves some kindness?

Another thing that helped me was this: When I was first learning meditation, the teacher would say, "If you get caught up in your thoughts, just come back to the breath and begin again." How freeing that was. It's a concept I use for most everything now. If I screw up, get it wrong, misunderstand, whatever.... begin again. So much more helpful than the berating :)

It took awhile, but now I can't remember that last time I had that screeching, ugly nagging voice in my head. If for nothing else, I'm hugely grateful to Tolle for that.

Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:40 pm
by kiki
Great response, Quinn.

Of course it's a mind trick, Chariot. It's the ego that is the source of all of this, including whatever frustration you are feeling. The trick is discovered when you look for the ego - see if you can find it by looking for it. Is it real or only imagined? What's left when it's not around? The trick is that it's not even real but it has been believed to be real for so long that it's taken as a given - what a great trick that is! Hold up the light of awareness to it and watch it disappear. With its disappearance notice what happens to self-esteem.

Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:10 pm
by rachMiel
Hi Chariot. :-) (As in the venerable chariot-as-mind metaphor?)

For "advice" on how to deal with your self-esteem issues, I'll defer to kiki and Quinn's excellent postings.

I just wanted to say that, personally speaking, the gradual disintegration of that constant inner scolding voice of "I'm not good enough" "I'm unworthy" "Everyone out there is doing so much better than I am" is one of the most freeing things that has ever happened in my life. It's SUCH a huge burden, so energy/vitality-sucking, so wonderful to be free of. And ironically now that most of this self-bashing about unrealized potential has dissolved, I am in a much better position to actually realize this potential.

Let / it / go. The game of self loathing can be very engaging -- even at times pleasurable -- but there are far more satisfying games to play.

Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:40 pm
by Webwanderer
Hi Chariot. The posts above point out what's happening very well so I won't belabor it further. However, in order to resolve the constant recriminations that all of us have, or have had, to deal with I suggest the Great Freedom teachings. They are simple, direct and effective - "short moments of clear awareness, repeated many times, until automatic." Such a simple approach allows the repetitive nature of spinning thoughts and anxiety to be recognized and flow unrepressed, until natural clear awareness is regained.


Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:17 pm
by Sighclone
Also agree with everything said here...all spot on.

And what I'm not hearing in your question, Chariot, is that you lack two fundamental ingredients of "little-self" - esteem that are essential to make the 'progress' needed so that all elements of "little me" can fall away: "I am capable" and "I am lovable."

Both Jac O'Keeffe in her mind-ripping book "Born to be Free," and Adya ,in several places, believe that those two components of the foundational, constitutional sense of "self-worth" are needed to take the disolcating step of leaving all the structures and content of ego behind.

They give us the courage to let go of the rope, the last refuge of ego. When we do that, as kiki so brilliantly says, we will discover that we were standing on the ground the whole time.


Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:20 pm
by Freespirit
I have been having a bad few days. I suffer terribly from low self esteem and have had it knocked back further from a recent break up.

About an hour ago I cried the hardest I ever have. I was in the shower and I decided to just feel my pain and I was shocked how much was there. I have been hurting for a very long time and I really want to let that go. I have often read about resistence of the now stopping us from being present. I never quite understood that until today. In the car driving back from work I 'heard' myself talking to myself (not out aloud, but internally) and I though 'what is all this chatter about?'. I looked in my rear view mirror and made eye contact with the other driver and thought 'Oh no, he must think I am annoyed at him for being so close' and then I thought 'why does it matter, it has happened, let it be'.

Ok completely irrelevent to your post but I was just about to go downstairs and decided to check here to see if I could pick myself up. First thread and I picked a good one. Exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you all. :)

Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:26 am
by Quinn
Freespirit wrote:About an hour ago I cried the hardest I ever have. I was in the shower and I decided to just feel my pain and I was shocked how much was there. I have been hurting for a very long time and I really want to let that go. I have often read about resistence of the now stopping us from being present. I never quite understood that until today.
This actually brought tears to my eyes. Of happiness for you. I recognize this turning point - when we actually know, not in our minds - but just know something really important and true.

Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:14 pm
by Webwanderer
Yes Freespirit, when those deeply stored emotional energies come rolling out, feel them fully. But notice that there is awareness present at the same time, even in the worst of pain that is untouched by those thoughts and feelings. And when those energies have run their course and experience changes, that same aware presence remains unchanged. That is your true nature. Rest in it, rest as it. All conditions, pleasant and harsh, are temporary experiences passing through. Know them all intimately for therein lies the gift of life in form. Experience teaches us in silence in ways the rational mind cannot discern.


Re: Self Esteem

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:47 pm
by Sighclone
We cannot release what we do not identify and own. You will survive the pain of discovery. Use your notebook -- write it down. Revisit as necessary. Use or Sedona Method or karmarider's techniques to assist with cognitive release.

Shrink from no truth inside of you. Transmuting takes place over time in Presence. Trust your experiences. Remember that the ugly, painful stuff has deep roots, probably won't die overnight. Accept that, and also own your progress.

Good counseling can help, too.