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Monday, June 17, 2013

Word for the Day

Today’s Word:  Self Esteem.  (Or is that two words?)

            The brain is extraordinary.  Who can understand all the ways our brains work?  However, research is revealing many of the brain’s secrets, as I learned at a workshop sponsored by the Institute for Brain Potential.  Much of the workshop focused on people with high-conflict personalities and strategies to work with them and help them.
            Dr. Dennis Marikis, our presenter, told us up front that the most important interventions are “early interventions.”  As he shared he got to talking about so-called self-esteem.  “When a person receives nothing but praise this actually diminishes self.  Only when a person recognizes their weaknesses can they feel good about themselves.”  Then our speaker put it another way, “Self-esteem is seeing that you ‘suck at’ some things and still feel valued.”
            I got to thinking about the people I have worked with over my life.  It is true.  Some of the folks who were most unreasonable had never had to face their own failings and faults.  In the seminar we learned strategies for working with people like that.  But I’m not going to talk about “other people” here. Something else occurred to me. 
            I wonder if we don’t first need to work with ourselves.
            In my first “unit” of Clinical Pastoral Education I was confronted with my personal shyness and difficulty in saying “no.”  In my second unit I discovered just how much my relationship with my father affected me.  But it wasn’t until my fourth unit that I was shown once again just how much I craved affirmation.  That is totally human and we all need some affirmation.  But seeking for “pats on the back” can get in the way of true self-confidence and even hinder doing good work!  We all need to learn that it’s OK to not be good at everything and normal to mess up once in a while. 
            So think about yourself. 
+Like me, you have some things you just don’t do well.  My spouse doesn’t ever ask me to cook something unless she puts out specific and detailed instructions.  On the other hand I wash a mean load of clothes!
            +Also, you probably have things you know you could do better and should do better.  I listen to folks “on the job” pretty well.  I’m not sure my family always thinks I listen to them as well.  I can improve my listening skills. 
            +And even with some things we do well, we sometimes fail.  I believe I offer good and appropriate spiritual support.  But there have been occasions I failed.  That’s not something I like to admit.  But even after failures I am valued.  Even (some) folks who helped point out my “areas needing improvement” still think I’m a quality person.  Now, that’s true self-esteem.
            We need … we all need … people who can say, “Hey, you messed up, didn’t you?  I’m still glad you are on my team.” 

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