I am sure you have heard or met people with, “a bruised ego,” or their egos “trampled upon or beaten to death.” You may even be one of them. Mine has been beaten so many times I’ve stopped counting. Yes, our egos can get a beating once in a while, or more often than necessary.
That’s part of living, of growing up. For people with healthy egos, these beatings are never a problem. They would just dust off their butts, give a hearty smile and move on.
Not so with others. Ego-wise, some are anorexic, others are grossly obese. Having their egos bruised and blued can have a very profound psychological effect on them and, if not nursed back to health, can lead to other problems.
People with low self-esteem can become depressed, will fall short of their potentials and develop a high tolerance to abusive situations and relationships, resulting to being depressed more.
Those with too much tend to believe that the world owes them something; they are incapable of learning from their failures and may even develop an excessive interest in oneself and one’s capabilities.
Peace of mind, happiness and contentment are difficult to find for those stuck in both extremes of the self-esteem scale. Lost opportunities and unfulfilled dreams will haunt those in the lower scale, and lost friends and soured relationships for those on the higher side.
Making them meet at the middle will be difficult. But it can be done.
How to nurse your ego to health:
The Internet has gazillions of literature on how to achieve a healthy self-esteem. You can read them till your eyes drop from their sockets but, until you make the resolve to improve your self-esteem, they are good as nothing.
Or you can try out my self-help kit and see what happens.
I grew up with a very low self-esteem. As I child I did not want to stand out. I wanted to be invisible to others. So I developed a bad slouch, which is still evident today.
As I grew up and started to desire things, it dawned on me that there was no way I can have them if I stayed in my cocoon. So I went out of my shell and, since I thought I was already way behind, struggled hard to catch up only to end up on the higher side.
It’s kind of taking the 100-meter dash – you always overshoot the finish line.
So I had to go back, made corrections in my game plan and started all over again. This process of moving forward and taking a step back, call it trial-and-error, was repeated so many times in my life that even now, I am still doing that – but only with very minor adjustments.
They say that experience is a good teacher and experienced teachers are hard to come by. I recently took a self-esteem test and I came out to be on the healthy side. Here’s how I did it. You can take tips from my “voice of experience,” or you can devise your own self-help kit.
1. Nobody has everything:
When I was young, I thought I can sing. This self-image was sorely tested when I was in Grade 2. Our teacher asked for volunteers to audition for a song number during our Christmas program. Of course, I was the first to raise my hand.
Early morning, the following week, our teacher announced the winner. “And the winner is…” she started. Gosh, I was more than 100% sure it was I. My mind was already racing ahead to that day when I will be standing on the stage, in front of the entire school, resplendent in my Christmas costume, belting out White Christmas better than Bing Crosby.
The next words she uttered made my self-image plummet to the ground, crashing like an airplane falling from the sky; a total wreck and right in front of the entire class.
I was hurt, I was shamed and I wanted to run out of the classroom.
In the evening, while moping about it, and having self-doubts about a future singing career, I made a discovery. I realized that though she can sing better than me, I was academically better than her in class. “So what if she can sing better than I? I am brighter than her!” I told myself.
The moral of the story?
Deep within you is something others don’t have. Find it, capitalize on it, and build your strength around it. Use it as the platform from which to launch your success.
No man is rich enough to have everything and no man is poor enough to have nothing.
2. Life is never what you want it to be:
Life is like a multiple choice type of exam. Sometimes the best answer is “None of the above,” while in others is “All of the above.”
Should it be the former, you must seek answers that will best fit your situation. You may seek the answers from without but your decision must be based from within.
That’s grabbing the bull by the horns, in a manner of speaking.
Should it be the latter, you are faced with alternatives that you may find distasteful, but have to take just the same because they are the best answer.
Hard decisions are always difficult to make but they are good yardsticks for your self-esteem, your confidence level.
3. Get rid of your ghosts, witches and vampires:
As children we were afraid of ghosts, witches and vampires. They made us feel vulnerable, helpless and insecure. We feared they might devour us.
We are grown-ups now. We have long banished witches and vampires from our thoughts. But the ghosts of our insecurities, vulnerabilities and feelings of helplessness remain. We are still afraid of being devoured, no longer by witches or vampires, but by a critical and unforgiving society.
But fear is an interesting emotion. It can either make us flee in panic or motivate us to stand up and fight.
It is like bully. You either allow yourself to be bullied for the rest of your life or put your feet on the ground and show you cannot be bullied anymore.
4. It is fruitless to worry:
Worry causes stress and stress is still the number one cause of death in modern society. What makes it tragic is that the things that worry us will end up any of the following possibilities:
- They don’t normally happen;
- If they do, the harm done is not as bad as you thought they would;
- If it is, people will ultimately forget them;
- It will not make the problem go away. It will just make the solution harder to find.
People who worry less have much richer lives, though they don’t have much. They live longer, too.
5. Talk to yourself crazy:
Positive affirmation or self-talk have been proven over and over again to effect changes in the way people think and act. The other day I received an email directing me to a site showing a novel way of doing self-talk.
It tells of recording your self-talk and play it over and over again on your ipod until you become what you want to be. Isn’t it great?
I have worked long enough to be exposed to people with different levels of self-esteem. I know how difficult it is to deal with those in either side of the self-esteem scale. I also know how difficult it is to keep mine healthy. Self-esteem, like mood, can swing both ways. We all have our ups and downs. There was a time when our company’s entire engineering group was sent to an Assertiveness seminar to increase their self-esteem.
We don’t live in a perfect world. You cannot hope to have a perfectly healthy self-esteem. But you can nurse it back to health should it get a beating. And you can be happy and give yourself a pat on the back if, should a graph be made of it, you are hovering around the average.