Saturday, August 23, 2014

"Think about the relationships you had with family members and how they impacted your self-esteem. What could they have done to help you create optimal self-esteem? Now, find a way to do this for yourself."

So the question is actually the speculative 'What could they have done..." part. I treat the first sentence as pre-amble, and due to the largeness of the number of interactions I had with my 4 immediate family members, I don't want to recap the specific or even the abstract here. The last sentence I treat as a call to action, and will simply keep in mind as I speculate, that what I identify I have to transfer to myself.

The first thing I note, even prior to doing these questions here, is that my self-esteem is pretty healthy, if not optimal. Enough was done, particularly in early childhood for me to avoid the kinds of insecurities I see cripple other people. I am not without insecurities or even evidently my own issues - I just want to put on the record that there's not much more my family could have done. I don't wish to diminish the very real suffering of my friends with debilitating anxieties, depression, addiction etc. by exaggerating my own issues. Nor as I've recently realised, alienate them by pretending that many of the symptoms don't occur to me. For example I do experience anxiety, but it is fleeting, transitional and typically clearly linked to my environment.

So what could have been done? When my parents had their career crisis, it was good that they were honest about it, insofar as we were told that my fathers job was under threat. Furthermore it would have been a better representation of the truth to say that with the new management team, my father no longer enjoyed his work. Beyond that though, what was told to me was for the most part fearful speculation. Bad worry. Anxiety being expressed that brought my mother fleeting relief to her sense of powerlessness, by transferring it to me. When that relief fled, the same fears were shared again.

Furthermore, I was not conscious that I was being told simply for the therapeutic act of telling, I still carry the expectation (and reflex) that when people outlay problems to me, they are looking for advice, relief, solutions to be provided by me. I really have only adjusted this common assumption to the more humble 'What can I do to help?' response, rather than presuming that I should simply leap into action.

So on that front, I appreciate being told honestly the situation. Though it should have come directly from my father, not indirectly. And it should have been limited to what was known to be true. Aside from that, my esteem would have been optimised if I had also been told '...but don't worry, whatever happens we'll look after you, you can finish your schooling, just carry on becoming who you want to become and we'll find a way to make that happen.'

Or something to that effect. To absolve me of responsibility over situations I have no real control. Such that I feel I could look at the suffering of others without inheriting their problems personally.

As regards my self esteem, at the moment my esteem is vulnerable to elemants outside the control of myself. eg. others inability to change, I take personally. I am unable to use my privilege (in all its various forms) to trigger a chemical reaction that leads to the prospering of everyone around me. I get involved in systemic and robust problems until I am simply a part of them.

Breaking the connection between my self esteem and the imperfect world, would seem to be what I need to do for myself.

Next question.

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