The vital ingredients of self-esteem and how they all work together (Part 2)
In part one, I explained the importance of boundaries, healthy beliefs, trust, responsibility and accountability, and how they all work in tandem together. Here in part two, I talk about decision making and values.
Decision-Making AKA Commitment
Much of the frustration that you experience when you have low self-esteem or feel like you’re about to go crackers from what you feel like is the ‘pressure’ to stick to something, is all about your ability to make and stick to a decision which is basically one of life’s ways of teaching you how to commit. The trouble is, that when you have low self-esteem, you don’t heed your own boundaries (or even know what they are), so of course you’ll struggle to trust yourself, because you don’t believe in the options from the decision you’re faced with. Next thing, you’re pissing off yourself or even others because you keep flip-flapping, which of course brings more pain upon you or even has you blaming yourself for all of the wrong things. And round and round and round you go.
When you don’t feel great about you, it can be tempting to look for the ‘perfect decision’ or the ‘perfect environment’ for a decision, and essentially bust your tail collecting 100% of the evidence that you think that you need in order to choose. But how would you collect all of the evidence and process it, if you don’t trust yourself, and how are you going to trust yourself, if you never make decisions, or only make them when you’re in the danger zone and your back’s against the wall? Why do you have to be in A Nightmare On Elm Street before you realise “Hmm, maybe now would be a good time to make a decision…” Why do most of your decisions have to be mired in deep unhappiness that’s often the result of spending too long over the decision, flip-flapping, backtracking, stonewalling and procrastinating?
Aside from making decisions, you’ve also got to know when to reevaluate. Again, your boundaries, values, trust and healthy beliefs come in here. People who are afraid of decisions seem to veer between changing their mind with too much frequency or holding tight to a decision that at the time when it was made was working for them (or appeared to), but the situation has since changed. Time and experience can show up a boundaries issue, a conflict in values or maybe you’ve grown and want different things.
When you have decision issues, you have a fear of making a mistake, fear of ‘failure’, fear of not being to address something if it turns out it was exactly the right choice, and fear of the future. There’s also a fear of being rejected and experiencing conflict, disappointment, or even abandonment. Then you attempt a decision-free lifestyle and wonder why you’re absolutely miserable and at the mercy of external influences that you’ve handed control over to. You wonder why you’re miserable when you’re passive in your relationships and waiting for people to do the right thing or reward you with love for not making decisions.
A decision is the conclusion or resolution reached after consideration – improve other areas of your self-esteem and your decision making abilities will improve.
But remember, decision making is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Whether you make a decision and get it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, the feedback and insight you gain from each decision helps you to make the next decision if you feel good enough to listen to yourself without riding your arse like Zorro every time.
The likelihood is that if you’ve spent more than a hot minute wondering why someone you seem to have so much in common with or who possesses all the things that you thought were important for a relationship isn’t actually giving you or capable of giving you the relationship that you want, or you’re perplexed as to why your relationship didn’t work, you may not be aware of the fundamental and rather critical importance of not only knowing your own values, but sharing core values with others in order to foster healthy relationships.
Values, quite simply, are about what you believe you fundamentally need in order to live your life authentically and to be happy. The widespread issue with boundaries is a societal tendency to focus on secondary values which are nice to have but rather superficial things such as looks and common interests, that will certainly make for a good time, increase a level of your attraction etc, but that actually say little to nothing about the primary values of a person.
The big areas of conflict are your personal values. What is your personal code of ethics? Are you claiming to be honest, forthright, a pillar of integrity, trustworthy, responsible? Well you’d be surprised how many people I hear from who bust their own boundaries and let others bust their boundaries by being with people who are allergic to these values.
How do you want to live your life? What’s important to you? What are your relationship values? How can marriage be really important to you if you’re with someone who isn’t marriage or even stable relationship inclined? What are your economic values? Your religious values? Your political values? What are your social values which are basically your values about society? Your sexual values? Some of these may not have anything critical to you in them, but the ones that do (and there are some) matter, big time.
- Knowing your boundaries helps you to know your values.
- Knowing your values helps you to honour your boundaries and listen to you.
- Knowing your values helps you to make decisions with a view to the short, medium and long-term because they help you to have a clearer view of yourself.
- Knowing your values reminds you of who the hell you are and actually helps you to discover the great you within that already exists that you may not be respecting because you’re too busy appeasing others or don’t value yourself.
Values, by telling you and you in turn communicating these to yourself and others through actions and words, actually help you to maintain your sense of self, treat you as a worthwhile and valuable individual and give you the confidence to respect your boundaries, trust yourself, and actually, to trust others.
Trust is based on values – we do not trust those who do not share similar values, especially on the personal values front.
We also don’t trust people who try to impose their values upon us by covertly or aggressively trying to get us to change to their values.
If you want to trust you, honour your values, and choose experiences, engage with people, and make choices that reflect those values, which in turn will help you to build your trust in others, and also in the feedback from situations.
Values are also what help you to stop making it all about you, as in, when people eff you over, or when something bad happens, when you can recognise the conflict in values, you realise it hasn’t got jack to do with your worth as a person.