Self-esteem is really the accumulation of beliefs that we have collected about ourselves. We arrange these many beliefs in some sort of composite much like a tile mosaic. Each piece is some shard taken from some experience or encounter or event or circumstance that has come our way at some time in our lives. These many pieces are selected based on the belief that they are true about us; that whatever they represent about who we are is real and factual.
In most of our lives however, the building process is flawed. The mosaic, intended to be a self-portrait of the person is nothing of the kind. It tends to diminish; often horribly and sometimes horrendously. It creates an ever evolving picture that is more a mosaic of borrowed pieces rather than being genuine reflections of who we truly are. Over the years I have found four lies that can wreck an individual’s self-esteem and skew this mosaic. These four lies impact our lives in profound ways:
Lie #1 – A Blatant Omission
Somehow, someway we bypass the good that we do. We assume the good to be the norm, the right thing to do, the thing for which no applause is warranted. It doesn’t show up on our radar screens because it’s not about some sort of extra or extended effort. It’s just what we’re all supposed to do. So why pay attention to what you’re supposed to be doing in the first place? Add to that the fact that good needs no further attention because good is good. What’s there to work on? Therefore, any shard of good tends not to show up in the mosaic we are creating. In the end, this mosaic is often ref of the very things that make us good and great.
Lie #2 – We Rigorously Collect Flaws
Flaws become our focus. We fixate on them because they’re everything that we hate. They scream for our attention and they get it. What is wrong trumps what is right because they expose what we don’t want exposed. Flaws are incredibly controlling, demanding that we believe we are the sum total of all that’s wrong with us and that we are nothing more. We want to fix these flaws but often feel that we can’t. We’re then trapped and stymied, caught dead-center in the very thing we feel we can’t solve. As much as we hate our flaws, they end up dominating our mosaic, painting these pictures in pasty grays and washes of jet black.
Lie #3 – Flaws Reinforced
It that’s not bad enough, we hear it from others, whether it’s from a parent or a spouse or a sibling or a teacher. Who it comes from matters some, but not much. In the end it’s all destructive. It feeds this negative sense of self by verifying what we thought to be true. “How could others see these flaws if they weren’t real?” “Obviously, I must be all those things.” “If I’m all those things, how many other things am I that just haven’t been seen yet?” And the mind games go on. What we don’t recognize is that the messages sent to us by others are more about them than they are about us. And the mosaic becomes further skewed by shortcomings of others that are dumped into our picture.
Lie #4 – I Was Born Flawed
Really? The ultimate surrender is in believing that we were born flawed. Somehow our nature is assumed to be inherited much like our hair color or shoe size. It just is. We just happened to be at the shallow end of the gene pool when things were handed out. We’re stuck with whatever we perceive our flaws to be. The only option that we have is to manage our flaws as best we can, hopefully doing something marginally good with our lives. Regardless, we are not born failures. We become them. We’re human of course. However, many of these flaws were not originally part of the mosaic. We put them in, or we gave other’s permission to insert them.
Think About It
You are what you choose to be. Life is not a dictated script. It’s far from being something to which you have to surrender. Whatever our flaws, there is always room to do something about them. Life affords us choices and chances. The human spirit is tenacious, powerful and wonderfully creative. Don’t underestimate your capabilities and your resources. Realize that the resources that you possess outclass and outweigh any flaw, perceived or real. Choose to view yourself differently and more accurately. Choose to choose you.