The vital ingredients of self-esteem and how they all work together (Part 3)
In part one, I explained the importance of boundaries, healthy beliefs, trust, responsibility and accountability, and how they all work in tandem together, in part two, I explained decision making and values, and in this final part, I tackle being on a low BS diet, receiving, processing and giving feedback, and having a life (action).
Low BS Diet
When you have a good level of self-esteem, you keep the amount of bullshit (BS) in your life to a minimum and have the ability to actually have some bullshit but know it for what it is. When you have low self-esteem, your life is affected by The Big 5 of BS – assumptions, rationalising, minimising, excuses, and denial. In turn, having too much of these not being sanity checked by reality and then adjusted accordingly means that your perspective is distorted.
When you lack perspective, you either put too much energy into the wrong type of action and situations or you become trapped in inaction. This results from spending too much of your energy in your head, often worrying about what isn’t happening, knowing that something is happening but pretending it isn’t or making it less and then being afraid, and also from being too far in the future.
If you have too much BS in your life and act upon these and stick with false information, it has a knock-on effect because you’re putting your efforts into fantasy and false premises which open you up to pain as you make choices and decisions off the back of it. It’s a vicious cycle because you realise that something isn’t true but then get embarrassed and want to force it to be true (so that you don’t have to admit a ‘mistake’), and then because you’ve been invested in all of this stuff, you don’t trust yourself, can’t distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t, and in the process you chuck whatever boundaries and values you have out the window. Phew! Exhausting!
The biggest effect that bullshit has is that it removes your responsibility and accountability. You keep telling yourself stories that justify your position and all it does is snowball it.
You cannot afford to carry so much lies, half-truths and distortion around with you, not least because you have a false picture of yourself plus when you have low self-esteem, you’re inclined to engage in the level of BS where you make yourself responsible for Other People’s Behaviour, which is BS of the highest order.
In any relationships you have in the future, romantic or otherwise, it’s important to remember that once you recognise lies or deception, it’s time to halt. You should never proceed when you smell a rat because you become complicit in the lie. You must also remember that BS begets BS and that highly skilled bullshitters recognise other bullshitters, who due to their low self-esteem which has a distorted perspective, will make it a fertile ground for them.
Being on a low BS diet simply means accepting that not every thought is a fact, not deciding or sticking with something as being true without proof, and consistent ongoing proof at that, dropping the ‘plausible’ explanations and justifications where you blame yourself for Other People’s Behaviour, not minimising your feelings or a bad situation, dropping the excuses for both yourself and others so you’re forced into action and responsibility, and not engaging in any form of denial because when the truth does creep in, it hurts far more than it would have done if you’d not denied or called a halt to it far sooner.
Receiving, Processing, and Giving Feedback
This is very tied into boundaries, values, trust, responsibility and basically every component of your self-esteem.
You receive feedback both in actions and words, both in what’s said and not said, and what’s done and not done. This feedback communicates information to you about your boundaries such as discomfort, danger, a sense of contentment, values, again discomfort or even danger from a conflict of them or feeling at ease because you share similar values, and trust, which basically means the feedback lets you know if you should increase trust or decrease it.
You need to be open to receiving and giving feedback plus you need to be willing to process it and to learn from the insights you gain from both ‘mistakes’ and successes, so that you build up your skills to process. Let me assure you – there’s nobody on this planet who hasn’t made errors in judgement, made mistakes, or felt the sting of trusting someone or something and discovering it isn’t so. It is something you learn through experience.
If you have too much BS in your life, it directly affects your ability to receive, process and give feedback because you worry more about ticking the boxes for keeping the BS story intact than you do about knowing the truth and applying that knowledge to any assumptions etc you’ve been making and adjusting.
Feedback from actions and words for instance, communicates whether assumptions you’ve made are correct. Processing that feedback means applying it to your assumptions and converting them into knowledge and facts.
Feedback helps you to make decisions. Using actions and words or the feedback from a mismatch between the two can help you to make a decision. Feedback can help you answer questions, draw a conclusion or make a resolution.
If you struggle to receive feedback, it’s often because you don’t like what it is or you don’t like what it signals that you need to do, or you don’t trust yourself to receive the feedback which can feel like too much of a responsibility – “What if I’m wrong?” “What if by judging their behaviour or the situation, it makes it look like I’m the one at fault?”
When you struggle to process feedback, it’s because you’re likely inclined to ruminate but not move beyond this and draw a conclusion, you don’t trust yourself enough and you may not be used to seeing your view of things as valid, so it can seem daunting to process. Processing also tends to mean ‘take action’, ‘change your mind on it or them’, or ‘let go and move on’. Also it goes without saying that if you bury your head in the sand, you don’t get anywhere close to processing anything.
If you struggle to give feedback, you are likely to be an ‘over-receiver’. This means you take things to the nth degree and have inverted ego issues where you make everything about you. Something bad happens, someone does something shitty, something doesn’t work out – you’ll over-receive it as feedback that you’re not good enough and that you might as well stop trying. You over-empathise which ends up not being empathy at all, but projecting, which is actually bullshitting. This means giving feedback such as asserting your boundaries, respecting and living by your own values, downgrading your trust or even increasing it, making decisions, turning down excuses, facing conflict, saying NO, voicing concerns etc are going to be an issue.
Funny enough, when you do all three consistently and own your right to do them, plus you recognise how critical they are, your self-esteem naturally rises because you start acting like someone who is valuable and trustworthy to themselves.
Having A Life (Action)
Ever wondered why you understand something logically and yet you still choose to stick with believing something that keeps you in Groundhog Day? Because it keeps you in an uncomfortable comfort zone where you don’t have to stretch yourself and you get to keep telling yourself the same old story. The only way that something logically makes sense on all levels, is if you support the logic with corresponding action. If you support your old way of thinking with your usual actions, you can be intelligent enough to logically understand why something is wrong for you, but if you expect that knowing something will be enough to just suddenly knock out long-standing habits and thinking, then you’ll know why you haven’t suddenly knocked out a radically changed life.
Many people smoke and know that it will do X,Y, Z to their body and that there is the potential for cancer and all sorts of health complications. They logically know this. But whatever they think about themselves or their odds, whatever they think hasn’t changed and neither have their actions.
You may logically know that someone is not a very nice person and in fact has treated you poorly, but after knowing this information, if you don’t like and love you anyway, you knowing logically that who they are doesn’t change what you feel about you, plus you don’t treat yourself any better or go and start getting on with your life in a positive fashion. Your actions support the idea that there’s something wrong with you.
I gave up smoking 11 years ago. I’d known the reasons why I shouldn’t smoke for ages. In the end, I thought I’d try giving up again because I was a student and it was a costly habit plus I didn’t actually like smoking. I didn’t know at the time that 11 years later I’d still be off the fags. What I did do is support the fact that I was giving up by not smoking, fighting the temptation, and reasoning that in time, the results of what I was doing would support the logic that I knew already but that my current habits didn’t.
It’s also safe to say that people who have good self-esteem not only get up and go and don’t sit around waiting for life to throw them a bone or feeling like they’re ‘owed’ something, but they realise that if they want to have the life they want, they have to be an active part of it and not try to force things that make them feel crap and detract from their lives, to try to change and make them feel good.
You build your self-esteem when you grab your responsibility to be behind the driving seat of anything you want and expect out of your life. It means putting your confidence in the actions that logically indicate that they will help you, even if your confidence is shaky at this particular time.
You could continue to put your eggs in the ‘past basket’ but your experiences, both good and bad, have been trying to show you what works for you and where you need to adapt your actions and mentality so that you can grow and experience more things that work for you
You build your self-esteem with actions that support your boundaries and values, while doing things that build your trust and confidence in you even if that means walking away from things that don’t work. Actions take commitment, which means decision, which means responsibility. You can’t have a no decisions life and expect that somehow, it’ll all come good, which means that yeah, sometimes you’ll get things wrong, but your next actions will help you to do better – action rooted in stepping away from habits that don’t work for you and trying to make positive change in your life is always a step in the right direction. It might feel like a small step right now and it may not even seem like it means or is doing very much, but one day you look back and realise what the little stuff meant and that these were all investments in you and a better present and future. People who fear taking action make the mistake of not taking action as a means of limiting their mistakes and then end up regretting that they didn’t act.