Many of us grew up thinking that everybody’s needs are more important than our own. We often cling to old baggage from the negative childhood belief that we are not nor will we ever be good enough, strong or pretty enough or do enough to be accepted. We keep trying to win approval by putting everyone’s needs before our own. Many times we may feel that we do not know who we are. This concept reminds me of Julia Roberts in the classic movie, “Runaway Bride.” She had no idea what she liked or wanted. She blindly followed along with whatever guy she was with at the time. When the day came for real commitment, the wedding, she panicked and ran as fast and far as she could go. Fortunately, she did find out in time what she did not want and did the most natural thing. She ran.
It was not until she was forced by the man who really wanted to know the real person inside, and forced her to make her own decisions that she was able to really find that she could love and be herself. Fortunately she became the “real” person she was and thus found someone who did not want a “cookie cutter” version of their ideal. We must know ourselves to accept that our needs and desires scream to be recognized.
It is sad that many people suffer such a low self-esteem that it is more important to them what others think than their own opinion. I remember being in elementary school and studying colors. We were asking each other about our favorite color. A classmate asked about my favorite color and I said, “It is blue.” Her response was, “blue is my favorite also.” Later in the day I overheard her ask another girl who was quite popular about her favorite color. When the girl answered, “It is red” My friend then said to her, “Oh, that is mine too, I love red.” I wondered about that, why would she say that? Her response was to mirror the girl that was popular rather than be herself.
One of the pillars of self-esteem is to know who we are and what we like and to be able to speak up whether it a popular opinion or not. It was a long time later what I thought about the incident with the colors again. When I did it reminded me of the many ways we undermine our self, and create deep holes in our self-esteem. It is unfortunate that we become enemies to ourselves in this way. One of my favorite quotes from the late Joseph Kennedy was, “I always try hard to build self-esteem in my children and their friends. It is the single most important factor in one’s success in any endeavor of life.”
There are many other ways that we undermine our success. I wonder why we spend time with those who seem to suck the very life out of us. These people may be in our own family or so called friends/ colleagues and we deeply desire to be accepted by them. We seldom stop to ask ourselves why it is so important to be accepted by people we may not even respect. I believe that our self-esteem depends upon our genuine respect for ourselves and we should require that others respect us as well.
We sometimes run from our problems and they seem to get bigger. As we face them squarely and deal with them, we are suddenly and remarkably set free to tackle the next things that come our way. We frequently but sadly miss valuable opportunities for personal growth by avoiding the very things that need our attention. The moment is gone and we may be left empty and alone.
To be healthy we must give up every effort to be something that we are not. Take off all the masks and focus on the gifts and abilities we have and they will surely grow. Our focus literally becomes our reality and the more we think about things we do not have or cannot do or change, the more they are there, even larger and stronger, thus becoming the mountains we face.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes, we all do. We don’t get to be perfect. We must stop beating ourselves up for old mistakes and appreciate that we are wiser and stronger because of them. Every success has a trail of failures behind it and gives us an entire list of things we do not have to try again. Stop looking to someone else to make you happy and find ways to make yourself not only happy but content and successful.
Do not be an enemy to you by competing with others. Instead, compete with yourself. Be your best. Set your own record. You are the only one that can truly finish your story.