They are: Fear of abandonment; Fear of unworthiness (Low Self-Esteem); Fear of surrendering/trusting. When I look at my own life, I see how I’ve lived with all of these in varying degrees throughout the years. When I look at people around me; families, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and all the other people that cross my radar, I can identify behaviours and attitudes that stem from these core fears. Not that we are an immobilized society unable to do amazing things but rather that in our weakest moments it is these fears that undermine our ability to cope, to function at our best. And yes, there are some people who operate from these positions most of the time.
What’s curious to me is that the common thread in all the work I do is around self-esteem. The other two weave in and out and yet how we feel about ourselves, how we treat ourselves, what we do to honour, respect, encourage, support, care for and love ourselves, seems to be the primary focus of what I do. It comes in all sorts of disguises such as bad jobs, lousy relationships, abusive eating, addictive behaviours, depression, anger, apathy, frustration and much more. And people are often really embarrassed or ashamed of having a low self-image. That adds to the difficulty in dealing with the causes because we don’t want to be someone who whines, complains or acts like a pathetic victim. We think we “should” be able to suck it up, get over it, get on with it, get real. Indeed, that would be ideal AND does work. Except when it doesn’t and that’s where reconnecting with the divine essence of who we really are, without the story imposed on us or that we made up to survive, can be incredibly liberating.
The miracle is watching all these difficult situations (the things that aren’t working) “right” themselves when self-esteem rises. People begin to lose their victimized perspectives, their hopelessness and helplessness. They see themselves differently and ultimately that lets them see their world differently. Even the strongest, most confident, most educated, skilled, professional, “got it all together” people can tumble headlong into low self-worth. Life throws us curves and the most agile of us can dodge them for a while (sometimes years) but for most of us, eventually something happens and we plummet into the state of questioning the value of our own existence. Sometimes it happens over and over again because we stubbornly resist paying attention to the signals. I believe this is how the universe (insert your preferred word here) wakes us up to the truth of who we are, why we are here, what we are meant to do with these all too short, precious lives of ours.
So when our self-esteem takes a hit and you add in an unconscious fear of being abandoned (also read rejection) and the resistance to surrender that is anchored in a lack of trust and, well … life can feel pretty tough.
The more we fight the powerful voice of our inner critic (gremlin, judge, saboteur) the more frightened we are of other people seeing us as a fraud or as worthless. It seems like we are keeping a great big secret when honestly, to the trained eye, we are fighting for our lives.
Building or re-building self-esteem requires daily practice. As my clients know, you can feel a profound shift and have days of euphoria. You can also look at your hand full of candy and wonder how it got there; open a bill for excessive purchases that you “forgot” you bought; sit alone on a Saturday night frustrated that your relationships never work. That’s the moment where you have the greatest potential for change; when you are “in it”. These are the contact points we examine together to see what is really going on. This knowledge and insight changes lives, every day. How might your life be different if you stopped long enough to listen?