Homework Part II

So the second part of the homework assignment has to do with changing the way I feel about myself.

This isn’t as exciting or fun to me, and I’m not as confident it will work, but I’m not the expert so I’m happy to try.

One side-note to this is a recent “realization”. I’ve had self-image/self-esteem problems for… forever. And when I’m trying to talk to people about them, there’s always the knee-jerk reaction for that other person to say “Oh, that’s so silly. Why do you feel that way? You’re such a _________
“. This a) disbelief that I feel that way and b) the need/want to compliment me to make me feel better.

Two problems with this reflex reaction. If I’m telling you that I feel broken or unattractive or boring or blah-blah-blah it’s because… I’m trying to explain something to you. The problem of my low self-esteem affects my ability to have successful relationships amongst other things and I’m trying to explain that. So when someone rushes to compliment me it doesn’t help the conversation, it’s a distraction. What I want the other person to do is try to understand the feeling and the impact it has for whatever reason. I’m not fishing for compliments (although I do appreciate them!) and that’s a distraction, a non-productive tangent from the conversation. The other issue is depending on how it’s said, it just makes me feel more stupid/silly for feeling that way. This is irrational, I realize it, but it’s deeply ingrained and a single compliment isn’t going to change 30+ years of thinking/feeling this way.

So. Homework. Where part I is to change the thought process and have that modify the behavior, part II is the reverse. The recommendation is to recognize when I’m “at my best” and what that feeling feels like. Are those actions things that I can do more often? When I’m “at my best” can I identify things that pull me out of that moment? Obviously if “at my best” is when I’m… snowboarding, I can’t snowboard 24x7x365. But I can I identify the things that I like about it, and replicate those things? Can I identify what it feels like when the “rush” starts to slip away, and ways to counter that slipping away?

I don’t fully understand this. I guess a couple things happen from this longer exercise. And not all of it is internal. I guess when you’re “at your best” you interact with people differently, generally. You attract different people, you have more confidence in those interactions and that can start to modify those negative feelings. Maybe you just stop thinking/being aware of them to the point where they don’t generate a fear that negatively impacts your interactions. Maybe in a relationship I become aware enough to say “Look. I suck at communicating. But I’m trying to get better at it. But I’m good at taking care of you in this way. And I’m going to try to keep doing this thing that I’m good at, but I’m going to try and use it to learn how to be good at communicating, which I suck at. So please appreciate my efforts with the thing that I’m good at, even if that’s not entirely what you want, and help me with the thing I’m bad at.”

We’ll see.


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