So I did my Google search. There is a lot of information out there about what self-esteem is and how to increase or build it, though even that isn’t always understandable in practice, but what about how we get in that hole to begin with? Why we are the way we are? Previously when I would experience problems with my self-esteem level, I would focus on how to get out of the hole. This time I want to figure out why I was in the hole and why I so frequently end up in that place. I hope it will give me some clues to prevent future episodes.
Keep in mind, there are many resources out there on this topic, self-help books, tapes, counselors, etc. I just found some quick sources from Google, found a few that seemed like they could be helpful, then the pondering began.
An important note, low self-esteem can be a symptom of depression or other illness. It is recommended that those experiencing this symptom should first consult their physician to determine if there is any need for treatment.
The best resource I found on the web is a pdf developed by the Maryland Community College’s S.O.A.R. Program. This document was developed to assist students transitioning from high school to college.
WHAT CAUSES LOW SELF-ESTEEM?
Although it is not yet known all the factors that contribute to low self-esteem, it is believed that negative emotional responses do play a significant role. For example, failures, criticism, teasing, punishments, abuse and poverty affect feelings of self-worth. Additionally other influences such as the media, our culture, race, gender and religion can all play a role. Essentially, what happens is that negative thinking becomes a habit.
The brain is believed to be flexible and the more we think in a certain manner, positively or negatively, the more that type of thinking becomes our reality. Hence if we allow these negative emotional responses to build up or if they occur repetitively, it is very easy to develop a habit of negative thoughts about ourselves. Soon it becomes all we know and we forget what it feels like to feel good about ourselves. This corresponds with research into how brain pathways develop. This can happen as a child or as an adult. For more information on how the brain creates neuropathways and how our thinking influences this creation, I recommend the following movies.
I remember how in my junior year of college I had a realization that not all families behaved and treated each other the way my family did. It was an eye opener about how insulated we can be in our formative years. I knew people were different, but I didn’t know that relationships could be so markedly different than what I thought was a very normal childhood and upbringing. Interesting how “normal” means very little these days and “common” may or may not be relevant. What appears to be important now is “healthy” versus “unhealthy” or “nurturing” versus “abusive and/or neglectful”.
Ok, so why exactly has my self-esteem been making frequent visits to the toilet for 3 decades? How does this apply to me? I'm going to ponder this profound problem. In the meantime, does any of this apply to you? More to come.
I am a fan of Jennifer Lee and her blog Life Unfolds. Jennifer is a life coach and has developed products and support for those of us who choose to live from a less analytical place. She has a fabulous post about giving oneself permission to do all of the things that we so frequently disallow. I thought it a lovely piece and apropos given my exploration into self-esteem.
I don’t really understand it. I just know that I should have it. And that I should have LOTS of it and it should be HIGH rather than low. Over the past few years I’ve felt my supply of esteem dwindle to near depletion. Feeling good about myself has been a struggle since my early teens. The first obvious signs of this problem was when I became anorexic at age 13 followed by years of sporadic bulimia and chronic disordered eating. The bottom line is that self-esteem is something that I was able to cultivate now and again, but not for long and not on an ongoing basis.
Recently events occurred that led to disappointment. Although disappointed, I was taken aback by how quickly my sense of being and worth plummeted. Suddenly I went from mere disappointment to utter despair. My mind began its assault. Attacking me with comments like, “I’m a loser”, “I don’t deserve success”, “I’m fat and ugly”, “everybody’s life is better than mine”, “I don’t deserve to be happy”, “I’m a horrible parent”, “I suck”, etc. Mean things. The sort of things that I wouldn’t stand by and allow my friends or my child say about themselves, or anyone else for that matter. I know I’m not the only one in this situation. I have too many friends who also feel like this.
The incident got me thinking about how long it had been since I felt good about myself. How long it had been since I felt worthwhile and deserving of wonderful things. I decided that perhaps my true problem lay in a lack of self-esteem and did what any other smart, capable person who wanted to solve a problem would do. I did a Google search.
What I discovered is that there is a lot of information out there, but not a lot of information that is helpful. And before anyone decides to point out the obvious, yes, I have had counseling and read a substantial number of self-help books. I know I’m not alone in this. So I’m going to make my journey through this a series. I know my blog appears to be more about economy than psychology, but really, isn’t the most truly luxurious thing in our lives how we feel about ourselves. How we feel about ourselves cost nothing monetarily, but can be so costly to us when we don’t feel good about ourselves. I think it may well be the most economically luxurious thing anyone can have.
As anyone can see, my blog has had a face lift. I used to think such pretty blog scenes were masterfully created by super talented computer wizards or hired services. Luckily I have found that there are in-between options. Super talented wizards who provide templates to incompetent HTML wizard want-to-bees like me...and they are FREE!!!! I am thrilled to show the results of their talents on my blog. I'm sure there are several options out there, but I'm going to list the ones that I found to have the best selections and helpful advice.
Yes, I've been woefully neglectful of this blog. Life got in the way of my blogging and personal goals. In fact I lost sight of having any personal goals whatsoever. Now I'm in a more reasonable place and have been anxious to return to both a personal life and this blog. So, let's get on, shall we.
Over the past several months I've had several competing priorities which culminated in total very little progress in anything. This morning I was thinking how when our lives are feeling out of control, our basic routines and chores can be quite grounding, bringing us back to basics and often having a calming effect if we let them. Although most of us regard laundry as a necessary evil of life, and I admit to experiencing this perspective, it can be an act of meditation, even a commune with nature.
A couple years ago I installed a retractable clothesline on the back of my house. I bought the clothesline at a garage sale for $5 (I had priced them much higher for a new one). My neighbors seemed intrigued by such a device and at a loss as to why I would choose to dry clothes on the line. They concluded that I was going "Green". Truth be told, this is how I grew up. Drying clothes on the line is how we lived, at least during the warmer months. Not only is it efficient and energy saving, but your clothes and linens smell outdoor fresh. Admittedly, I line dry several items in the house, certain delicates that I don't wish to share with my neighbor, or just in general during the colder months.
Doing laundry is a lot like breathing. It is a basic necessity and can serve as an act of grounding meditation. Not to mention it can get you outdoors if you use a clothesline. Next time you do the laundry try thinking of it as a gift you give to yourself and your family, the gift of clean clothes. No matter how crazy life gets, laundry is always there waiting for you.
So the weekend has come and nearly gone. With it, has gone the vernal equinox. In years gone by the equinox has been used to measure time and inform people of the seasons long before Farmer's Almanac became available. Even now many use this special moment where light and dark spend equal time inhabiting our day to mark the passing of time and to determine their progress in both agricultural efforts as well as personal goals. Personally, I use it for the latter.
So where am I on my personal goals? Exhausted! Sadly that is very true. I had hoped to have more forward momentum in my year than has come to pass. Sometimes I think that it is the result my needing to be here, right where I am, on this path rather than making what I consider to be progress. Then sometimes I wonder if perhaps I am not trying hard enough, if I'm not focused enough, selective enough, persevering enough. To take responsibility...meaning to be able to respond appropriately and be accountable is perhaps an act of realism and objectivity that I am not capable of. Self-judgment is such a slippery slope. I know few who can apply it with equanimity and equipoise to appropriately gauge progress. Rather many of us fall into the trap of unreasonable expectations of ourselves, self-loathing and disappointment.
Although I feel somewhat at odds with my progress by this first quarter's end, I have taken time out to enjoy being in the few days of sunny warm weather, noticing the new buds on the trees, the rapid progress of the crocus as it rose through the ground one day and bloomed the next, the magnificent sidewalk chalk art of my neighbors, and my dog stealing my neighbor's basketball when he unwittingly invited her to join the game (never offer my dog a ball you're not willing to lose). I even sat out on the bench swing in the sun eating ice cream with my darling daughter enjoying the warmth and displaying my white legs to the golden sun. No matter what our agendas and to-do lists, or how quickly our personal measures come at us, to let the transition into spring pass unnoticed may well be more detrimental to our well-being than sticking with our plans.
So how have you experienced this transition into spring whether on the actual day of the equinox, or just a lovely day that felt like spring to you? Do you have any rituals by which you welcome this time of year? Do you use the equinox to measure events in your life? If so, how?
May this new season bring us all many blessings in addition to the abundant new life we are now witnessing.
Picture courtesy of Amazon.com and Mireille Guiliano
Of all the blogs I read, many of those authors are fans of Mireille Guiliano. I was very excited to discover today that she is publishing a cookbook. Sadly there was no content info on Amazon and I've seen no mention of it on her website. I didn't even see a release date. I'm certain I'm not the only one to be excited by this news. Anyone else out there excited to see what this will be all about?
I feel pampered when I have a soak in a hot bath and a pedicure. Unfortunately my current bathtub is very shallow making it difficult to enjoy a good soak, but I still have my pedis. I do the pedi myself, always have. I know a lot of people pay to have them done, but ultimately, it takes the same amount of time and energy to do it myself, without the added cost.
I started doing pedis in 2004 after I kept hearing my mind say "paint your toenails red". After hearing that for the umpteenth time, I decided I might as well do it even though I'd not painted my toenails since I was a kid. Surprisingly I was thrilled with the results. Now don't go getting all freaked out because I did what the voice in my head told me to do. We all have chatter in our heads. What is challenging, and most rewarding, is when we are able to separate our inner guidance (helping us to live our best lives) from our monkey mind (incessant chatter directing us away/distracting us from our path). I like to think of it as my soul directing me. Showing yet again that joy and happiness is something we can create for ourselves.
Regardless, pretty toes are a great way to start the week. :)
How do you feel most pampered? Is it indulging in a high end or pricey item or service? Or is it something you do for yourself? Or when have you listened to that little voice in your head that kept telling you to do something you thought was odd, but when you did it gave you loads of pleasure?
The weather is beautiful here! Up to high 40s. The photo above is of my lilies waking. Very exciting.
March Designs Update 1. Continue one in/one out - Got a few things and preparing a Goodwill donation 2. No book buying - Done 3. Cook at home 3x/wk - Only 2x 4. Weekly week in review post about my monthly design accomplishments - Done 5. Daily exercise of at least 30min - All days except no consecutive 30 min on Mon & Tues 6. Cease eating by 7pm - All but 2 days 7. limit refined sugar to 1 serving 2x/wk. - needs work, 4 days 8. Increase veggie intake - Only slightly
Overall I'm moving in the right direction. I'm pleased with my exercise accomplishments, but need to pay more attention and effort to the food goals. Yesterday I enjoyed lovely walks and yard work. Woke up a bit sore today. Amazing how joyful it feels to work in the yard. Entertainment and exercise for zero money.
Many know the phrase "Want to hear God laugh, tell God your plans." Well, THAT was February. The stomach bug knocked me for a loop and certainly laid waste to many of my plans. Though somewhat discouraged by my lack of headway, much like a crocus attempting to bloom through the snow in early spring, I persevere.
February Designs Results 1. Continue one in and one out - Did pretty good 2. Continue no book buying - Did great 3. Cook at home 3x/wk - Not so well, but cooked 2x/wk this past week 4. Exercise 6 days/wk - Not nearly 5. No eating after 7pm. - Accomplished this most days 6. Review finances weekly - Didn't happen 7. Eat at least 1 serving of veggies daily - Sadly, no 8. Almost forgot, limit refined sugar indulgences to once per week - Sadly, during the stomach bug refined sugar was the only thing I could digest.
Oh well, Au Revoir to February. Hello March! Hello Spring! Hello March Designs!
1. Continue one in/one out 2. No book buying :( 3. Cook at home 3x/wk - I can do it, I know I can! 4. Weekly week in review post about my monthly design accomplishments 5. Daily exercise of at least 30min (includes walking the dog if consecutive 30 min). 6. Cease eating by 7pm. 7. limit refined sugar to 1 serving 2x/wk. 8. Increase veggie intake.
I have some more I'd like to accomplish, but I'm not sure it wise to list them. I'll ponder the possibility. Now I'm off to work on my monthly budget and pay bills.
In December I made an impromptu trip to Goodwill. Every now and then I find a good or even great deal. That day I found a great deal. I've been looking for a furniture piece to place at the end of my bed. Low and behold, there it was, for only $10.
The pattern is lovely. As you can see the fabric is worn on the seat and in desperate need of cleaning. Even then, the upholstery may still likely be stained in a few places. In that event, I will make a slip cover for it. I've been doing a bit of research and believe that I can make one that is true to the lovely lines and curves of the piece. I'm VERY pleased with my find.
Last weekend I was preparing a post for V-Day all about self-love. Of course that topic came from my understanding that I need to practice self-love. I was going to talk about how I was going to love myself better. Get in touch with my values, such as health and practice a cleansing. The kind that you clean up your eating allowing the body to eliminate waste and become healthier. Well, that was Sunday. Having not finished my post I planned to finish it Monday. Then the skies opened and the Universe bestowed upon me a fine detoxifying opportunity. I came down with the stomach bug my daughter had seemingly breezed through the previous week. Only I have not breezed through it. Quite the opposite. Yes, the Universe was laughing when she answered, only I was slow to get the joke.
My daughter came down with it last Thursday afternoon and by mid-morning the next day, she was asking for a BLT. Contrarily I've been out since Monday afternoon, and only today tried "real" food (not Jell-O, 7-Up, sorbet or toast) this afternoon. Ironically people pay oodles to do for them what nature did for me for FREE! Sometimes you just gotta make lemonade from those lemons. :)
And in answer to Treacle's question about how my February goals were going. Sadly, the better of them haven't gone well. A work situation exploded the first week leaving me excessively stressed. Unfortunately my primary reaction during such times is to hibernate or effectively zone out when given the chance. So I found myself as usual arriving home to burrow in. Aside from walking the dog regularly, I've done very little exercise. Very little cooking, very little sugar resistance, but did manage to do well respecting the 7pm eating limit.
As I wrote in an earlier post that I am reading Suzy Welch's book 10-10-10 about a strategy for decision making. Because the strategy is value-based, one person's decision may turn out differently than another person's. Of course the strategy only works well if you truly know your values. While reading the book, I realized that over the past few years I've gotten out of touch with my values. If fact, if someone were to come out and ask me about my values, I'd likely only be able to come up with one or two. This left me feeling not only sad, but somewhat disappointed and even ashamed of myself.
These thoughts brewing in my head combined with my standard reaction to high levels of stress, became a cue for me to take some time to re-examine and perhaps, re-orient, my values and how I'm living them. Then came the stomach bug which I suppose is a way to re-set my clock. Not to mention what blessing it is to have our health.
I don't consider January a particularly successful month in terms of meeting my intentions. I have found myself more interested in zoning out rather than focusing on that which I aspire to. Perhaps it was the cold and cloudiness or maybe I'm just lazy and unmotivated.
January Intentions Report 1. 1 thing in - 1 thing out. With the exception of grocery items, birthdays and Christmas, for anything new that comes into our home, something of comparable use/space must leave our home whether through donation, gifting, selling, etc. 2. No book buying during this month. I've got oodles to read already. (Done) 3. At least 10 min yoga per day for 30 days. (Not Done) 4. Cook at home from scratch 3 times per week. (Did well some weeks, but not all) 5. Limit refined sugar to once per week. (Limited to 3x/wk) 6. Review finances every week (e.g. record and pay bills). (Not Done)
The past couple weeks I've been reading Suzy Welch's 10-10-10 book. I first read about her 10-10-10 system when she wrote an article on it for O Magazine in 2006. I thought it a valuable concept, but didn't entirely understand it. Luckily I found her book at the library. I'll chat more about it later, but for now I will mention her concept of designing one's own life. Certainly this concept is not hers alone, but when combined with other aspects of the book it spoke to me. Perhaps I just needed to hear it now. I've certainly heard it before, but you know what they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will come.
February Designs 1. Continue one in and one out. 2. Continue no book buying. 3. Cook at home 3x/wk. 4. Exercise 6 days/wk. 5. No eating after 7pm. 6. Review finances weekly. 7. Eat at least 1 serving of veggies daily. 8. Almost forgot, limit refined sugar indulgences to once per week.
Though more ambitious than this past month, I think I can do it. I think I can...I think I can...
After several weeks of frigid temperatures, I enjoyed a weekend with temps in the 40sF, albeit with rain. Now temps have plummeted again exacerbated by wind chills. I'm finding it hard to be motivated. The only one I know who actually looks forward to going outside is my German Shepherd. It's been weeks since we have had a sunny day. It takes a toll. Even the blooms have nearly all fallen off my Christmas cactus, pictured above just before New Year's in full bloom.
The nice thing about this time of year is that it is a perfect excuse to nest. Declutter, organize, clean, etc. An opportunity to focus on the interior rather than the exterior. But sometimes, all too frequently I want to just bundle up, sit by the fire and stay warm. This time of year I'm also prone to early bedtimes. Crank up the electric mattress pad and jump under the covers. There a small projects to keep me busy. Opportunities are always there, but it just "seems" harder when it's so cold.
For the past several months my weekends have only been quasi productive. However today was a bit of a change. Not only did I awaken at a reasonable time but I started my taxes last night and finished them this morning. By noon they were filed. I did return to my lazy ways for a bit this afternoon, but by evening I managed to do some tidying up around the house. I also managed to work on a project.
A few weeks ago I went to Goodwill Industries (one of my favorite stores) and found some lovely wall paper. It was only one roll but it was too beautiful to pass up and at only $1.99 it felt like a steal!
Luckily an idea for its use came to me right away. I have a lovely dresser/wardrobe for which this elegant paper is just right. I'm thrilled with how it turned out. The photo below was taken while I was confirming the fit before using that piece as a template to cut out the other pieces for the remaining drawers. When I placed in all the pieces today, I used low tack adhesive spray to secure the liner to the bottom of the drawer. The effect is quite lovely and the paper sets much more smoothly than in the photo below.
That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archive of our experiences. - Thomas Jefferson
It is so true. When we surround ourselves with items that speak to our soul, our home becomes alive and we see joy everywhere. Even the little things like my new drawer liner make me feel luxurious and cared for and it only took $2 and a little bit of effort.
I am not a particularly political or religious person though I consider myself quite spiritual and I certainly have no intention in turning this into a place of political or religious dialogue. I try hard to get along with all. However recent events have unfolded which compel me to voice my opinion to the Universe. Since I am not eloquent, I choose to give space to those who are. There is little that gets my Arien temper aflame more so than hate-speak, particularly when it's done in the name of God and in the face of tragedy. It is not my intention to offend any of the wonderful readers who have come here (all 5 of you :) ), and if this does offend you, I am truly sorry.
That being said below is a letter written to the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Lily Coyle. Having lived in the great state of Minnesota, I adore the Minnesotan humour and their overall dedication to social justice. People like Ms. Coyle help me to tolerate the intolerable. That being said, I give space to Ms. Coyle's letter below.
Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating.
I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll.
You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.
We've all heard the phrase, "fallen off the wagon". We've probably all experienced it too. Well, my inner chaparone apparently left for a little vacation and my inner epicure must have been off duty. Not only did I fall off, when I woke I found the wagon had left town completely.
It's not all tears and failure. After experiencing an absence of ear congestion the past week or so (the first since last spring) I noticed that the ear congestion returned. I don't believe in coincidence so I find this information encouraging. Also, I was reminded of how tired sugar makes me. Not only do I feel a decline in my energy soon after eating refined sugar, plus that mental foggy feeling, I also require more sleep than usual. All information that equals motivation.
Now I've rounded up another wagon and I'm clawing my way back on. I'm still working on my other intentions for this month, though I have exchanged doing yoga daily for another type of exercise due to an opportunity sponsored by the blogger at Well-Heeled. We've begun a 30-Day Shred challenge. A 20 minute workout led by Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser fame. I'm looking forward to discovering my results. I'm ending this post with the quote of the week which is most befitting my current circumstances.
Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
One of my intentions for this month is to restrict my refined sugar intake to once per week. I didn't fulfill that intention this past week as I ended up eating refined sugar 3 times this past week. Although I am a bit disappointed, I am pleased to have done as well as I did. Refined sugar is hard for me to resist, I'm a bit of an addict. I am pleased that I managed to only have it 3 times last week rather than the multiple times a day which I had been indulging in for the last several months. Mireille Guiliano speaks about moderation when indulging in such pleasurable treats. Now I understand moderation, but I don't execute it well.
Currently I am reading Victoria Moran's Living a Charmed Life. The author talks about the difference between one's inner epicure, who helps us to enjoy pleasure, and one's inner chaperon. It is our inner chaperon which differentiates between peak experience and the point where that peak experience dwindles into the ordinary. Ms. Moran tells the story of when she was a teenager at an airport speaking with a girl her age. She was hungry and munching on a bag of cookies in response to that hunger. She offered the cookies to her acquaintance who declined saying that she was much too hungry to eat sweets. Ms. Moran, though initially feeling annoyed, recognized that the girl cared enough about herself to wait to eat a proper meal.
This story has helped me to better understand the place of sweets in my diet and how they can be eaten in moderation. I've actually used this a few times when I have been very hungry and not only did it save me from what likely would have become binges, it helped me to understand that I can much more easily control myself around sweets if my hunger is satisfied by healthier choices. Because my hunger is either completely satisfied or mostly satisfied, I don't feel deprived if I have only a little bit of sweets.
Now when I'm ravenous and seeing a refined sugar option, I tell myself, "I am much too hungry to eat sweets" and I understand what moderation is all about. For me, it is primarily keeping myself out of situations that can quickly turn excessive.
There was a number of times that I wanted to post something the past several days, but chose to hang out with my kid instead. It's been so rare the past year that I had time to hang with her without the pulls of either her school work, drama with her dad, or my work. This past week we had none of those and it was incredibly enjoyable to be together watching murder mysteries (she's becoming a fan too) and doing little things around the house, oh, and a spot of shopping before the new year. There's no better luxury for less. Alas all good things come to an end. Tomorrow she returns to school and I return to the office.
I've had the opportunity to consider my intentions for this month as well as what I want this year to become. Looking back I can see where I have successfully implemented desirable lifestyle changes that not only made me healthier, but they made me happier. Over the past couple years I've unfortunately moved away from those changes, but I am getting back to them. The past five years has provided me with a smorgasbord of experiences to draw on as far as what works for me and what doesn't. So here I go, or rather, here I am.
Christine Kane in her blog recommended a year or two ago to select a word that reflects our desires. My word for 2010 is EMBODIMENT. To me embodiment means living a life that reflects my values. I have spent past years saying what I wanted, but not living what I wanted, particularly this past year. It's now time for me to live as I know I can and to embody my values first and foremost for my well-being, and secondly to be the role model I want to be for my daughter.
January Intentions 1. 1 thing in - 1 thing out. With the exception of grocery items, birthdays and Christmas, for anything new that comes into our home, something of comparable use/space must leave our home whether through donation, gifting, selling, etc. 2. No book buying during this month. I've got oodles to read already. 3. At least 10 min yoga per day for 30 days. 4. Cook at home from scratch 3 times per week. 5. Limit refined sugar to once per week. 6. Review finances every week (e.g. record and pay bills).