Low Self-esteem – Are Your Problems the Real Problem?

Everyone talks about having low self-esteem. It’s a major target for clinicians when first assessing a new “client” or “patient”. After a brief introduction we head straight to a person’s “chief complaint”. We then drill down into their chief complaint with their “history of present illness”. We then correlate these problems with their medical problems and the issues in their “family history”. We round up our analysis by diagnosing them and then addressing their low self-esteem in a “treatment plan”. After that approach, I wonder how anyone could feel good about themselves!

Neurobiologists are fond of saying, “Neurons that fire together, wire together”. One consequence of this concept is that the way we “talk about”, “refer to” or even “insinuate” eventually becomes hard wired in. That’s why your therapist nearly throws-up or has conniptions when you say something like, “I’m such a dork!”. I wonder, however, whether therapists set conversations down the wrong neuropathway when we begin each session by addressing your “problem list”?

Changing Our Thoughts about Low Self-esteem

Eastern thinking tends to address life organically thereby including everything in the circle of life. We in the West like to take that circle apart - making it linear - by addressing a problem and then finding a solution. It may not be elegant nor inclusive, but it is simple and fast, much like any addictive mental process! For example, looking at our country from the left or the right produces clear answers, including, the other guys are idiots! The same can be said when approaching your day as a series of problems that need resolved.

What if ... we began with the circle? What if you practiced being who you are before, during and after considering any challenge you face? What if you grounded your thoughts and feelings in the love you shared while optimizing your relationships? What if life was happening for you, not to you?

This is the way your subconscious mind thinks. It’s intimately connected to what’s good for you, good for others and good for the greater good. It’s wired to raise your heart rate when you stand and lower it when you sit. You have the conscious ability to take short cuts and look at one aspect of life apart from all others. This helps in an emergency. It’s not as helpful as you addressing yourself as a “dork”!

Neurobiologically, you hardwire in your thought patterns as you practice them over time. Think of yourself as a dork and you’ll likely find it easy to think of yourself and others, for example your children, as dorks in the future. Thankfully, hardwiring isn’t permanent. With practice, there is an opportunity for change. This makes every change an opportunity “to be” even more.

What if?

  • You looked for opportunities for change, rather than dreading them?
  • You got to know a person before you got to know their “problems”?
  • You looked for answers that addressed everyone’s needs rather than one person’s or another’s?
  • What if “impossible” changes simply take more time?
  • What if “optimizing” evolves into better and more sustaining solutions?
  • What if “happiness for the moment” can evolve into a joyful life?
  • Most of all, what if you’re not a “dork” but a “cool dude”!?

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