Graham

Self Help Experts, Gurus and Their Books (Revisited)

In Self Help on August 24, 2008 at 1:43 pm

This blog addresses some of the unanswered questions raised by the original (see “Self Help Experts, Gurus and Their Books”). It in no way replaces the original. Rather it augments and further clarifies some of the concepts presented in the original. By design, my approach is make no attempt to formalize the method. It discusses three principles that worked for me, but it avoids the appearance of describing a system because you must be the one to decide whether or not these general principles work for you.

Additionally, the approach is pragmatic. By this we mean that we have tried to focus on what works, without dredging up

The Three Principles Form a Repeating Cycle

[1] All of us make mistakes, but some of us have such low self-esteem that we get defensive and go into denial. When that happens, we lose our connectivity to others. This is true whether “others” are your boss, your co-workers, your spouse or your children.

[2] Being alone and ignored, our self-esteem gets worse, which brings on harsh judgmental, internalized feelings that we try to suppress. But we can’t suppress them because deep within our brains we accept that there is something wrong with us.

[3] This gradually leads us to the source of our feelings, which is usually ourselves, although sometimes we provoke a negative response from others (family, friends or co-workers) and misdirect the blame.  Either way, we are the root cause of our pain. To end the pain, we need to do two things: accept ourselves and accept our mistakes. Only then can we get on with resolving the problem.

The CYCLE in which we Find Ourselves

  • Begins with denial – We tell everyone who will listen, “It’s not my fault!”
  • Next we feel badly about ourselves because we have conflicting – denial slowly shifts to anger at self, often with feelings of being stupid or worthless
  • And finally we begin to sense that we can get back to “normal” – which we do by reinterpreting history, putting the event in the best possible light. This brings us back to Step One, where we wait for an opportunity to repeat the cycle
The Only Way to Stop is to Break the Cycle

[1] Accept responsibility while staying out of the blame game – most people will respect you for wanting to be part of the solution. Do not get defensive. The moment you do, you lose. If you are sincere and focus on the solution to the problem, you are less likely to be ignored and more likely to be given the chance to help fix the mistake.  Keep in mind that we learn from mistakes. No mistake means nothing learned. Nothing learned means you are doomed to repeat the mistake.

[2] Accept that your feelings are valid, but do not let them tell you what your next move is. If you deny your feelings, or if you do the opposite and let them do the driving, either way you lose – feelings associated with low self-esteem rarely change through analysis , but often change through trial and error. when we achieve a series of small successes. In the work-place, a small success might be praise for your role in a task. At home, a family member begins to spend more time with you because you have stopped yelling when they make a mistake.

[3] Stop evaluating yourself and others, and focus on the issues, problems, or task at hand – it’s the only way to get the little successes started in your life.

Here are Some Tools You Can Use to Improve Your Odds of Success

  • Postponement – Instead of letting your mind seize control and run you through the ringer, make an “appointment with yourself” to have this “conversation” in a day or two. Chances are good that you will forget to do it later; otherwise, postpone it again. If you do this, you will eventually gain control.
  • Forgiveness – Never blame anyone for your problems, not even yourself. Attack the problem, not the people. However, acknowledge your part in the mistake by letting others know that you want to help, and that you want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. (Blaming is not Acceptance and vice versa.)
  • Focus on the Issues, the problem or the event – If you focus on people’s shortcomings instead, the result will almost always be that you fail to break the cycle.

Do not do any of this to prove anything to anyone. Be yourself. But recognize that humans need other humans in their lives to be happy. Some of us get this companionship through service to others, some get it through focusing on the family, some get it through work, to name a few. It’s up to you, but it should not be ignored because we all need to have someone we can go to, someone we can rely on to provide stability.

Finally, in my experience just because a person is having self-esteem issues, doesn’t mean that they need to let someone else step in and run their lives. It’s just exactly the opposite. Unless you are part of the cure, your self-esteem is not likely to show much improvement. If it isn’t your success, how can it be your improvement? Worse, if you rigidly adhere to other people’s advice, every time you make a mistake you will see it as failure, but if you are actively engaged in the changes you want to make, you are more likely to see mistakes as the price of admission.

Now here’s the beauty behind the beast:  there is no right answer. We aren’t all going in the same direction, with the same motivation. What you want out of life isn’t necessarily what I want, and vice versa. And ideally, we need to recognize some of the “happy mistakes” we make. I doubt that they are fully random. I like to think that once we begin to nudge the brain in the direction we have chosen for ourselves, that it keeps working the problem and sometimes even demonstrates that it’s getting the message.

NOTE:  As before, if at anytime you experience suicidal, homicidal, or otherwise destructive feelings towards yourself or others, then by all means see a medical doctor because your problem may require medical treatment.

2008-0824 Self Help Series # 002 Copyright © 2008,2012 by Tad Laury Graham.

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