COMMENTS ON “SELF-ESTEEM”…
[The following is a conversation between Sharif Abdullah and Sharon Williams on the subject of “self-esteem”, the “Moment for Wisdom” offering for Wednesday, 12 January 2011. Sharon’s comments in PURPLE:]
Thank you for the emails. i appreciate it. Its been a while.
I don’t treat myself with loving kindness. I find myself stuck in this cycle self-abuse which I have perpetuated against myself since childhood. I am having a hard time getting out of this cycle and it is impacting my work, my relationships and my life in general as I become pretty isolated.
I have to get out of this. I am having a hard time eating, sleeping and exercising. This is not a good situation. I must be getting something out of it if I keep doing it. It is probably that I refuse on some level to take full and total responsibility for my life. I thought I would have kids by now and be married but, that has not happened and I find myself alone and trying to make it on my own. I have help in my life. It is not true that I am alone but, I have to get another job and I feel stuck and constantly nervous and agitated all of the time.
… If you could see the comments that are coming in to me right now, you would know that there are MANY people who share that same feeling/point-of-view. I think it fits MOST of us, at some level or another. Welcome to America…
I thank you for your bravery in sharing with me. One of the ideas of The Praxis is for those of us who see a different point-of-view to SUPPORT each other.
I am sending to you a TED talk that another Praxis person sent to me today. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0
Let me know if it is appropriate…
[Sharon’s comments after watching TED video:]
So it is all about the shame I am carrying around. That makes sense to me. It is killing me. I am home sick because I have literally made myself sick because I cannot face up to my imperfection and vulnerability. What am I going to do? I am currently working with an EFT/Hypnosis practitioner to help me get through this. I just feel so unworthy and I am afraid people will judge me when I make mistakes which is often and seemingly all of the time now.
I believe that you are doing the right thing in seeking assistance from a professional, especially one that uses techniques like EFT. (I’ve seen EFT provide some relief for some friends.)
I believe that this society is driving us “crazy”. All around us, we see models of perfection, in the form of movie stars, characters in commercials, TV news hosts… never a complaint, never a hair out of place, never a trace of doubt on their perfectly sculpted faces…
I believe our bodies react to these false images. I believe that there is a gene somewhere in our DNA, telling us that we reflect our community. Back even 100 years ago, that was largely the case. Back then, we could elect as President a guy who was downright HOMELY, because he really did reflect the norm for society at the time.
I have a female associate who said she would always feel bad about herself after reading “Cosmo” or one of the other women’s magazines. My solution? STOP READING THEM! I advised her to take a nice long break from ALL images of women who are paid to provide their image. (That included not watching any commericals or the nightly news…) And, spend time in the presence of real women, even if at the coffeehouse. Let the “reflection” gene recalibrate itself. Her mood improved over several months.
I am hoping that Praxis will provide a real community of people who can be honest with themselves and, by focusing beyond themselves and into our global human family, can find healing at all levels. (The goal of the Praxis is NOT individual therapy — you should continue to follow your own therapy strategies. I am hoping, though, that your practice with others can provide some understanding and relief to you.)
Ok. Praxis is group therapy so we don’t feel so alone individually. The female magazines are designed to break us down because they want to buy their crap and play their mind games.
Re women’s magazines (and muscle magazines for men): I don’t think anyone sets out to say “How can we make women miserable so that they will buy our stuff?” Instead, they just advertise their product, use their flawless models (and MAKE them flawless on the computer, if they have the slightest blemish — I’ve seen how they do this. Even the models cannot attain the standards of “beauty” that are set by the computer!).
Seeing this impossible (yet believable) image once… no big deal. Like inhaling one puff from a cigarette. Seeing this over and over, day after day… like smoking CONSTANTLY.
Re Praxis: I don’t think this is “therapy” in the sense that the intention is for the group to get “well”. I think this is “societal therapy” — a group dedicated to the health of our entire human society, and just incidentally they heal themselves as a group and as individuals along the way!
This is captured well in the Dalai Lama’s statement on a “spiritual revolution”:
“Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit — such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony — which bring happiness to both self and others.
“Thus spiritual practice… involves, on the one hand, acting out of concern for others’ well-being. On the other, it entails transforming ourselves so that we become more readily disposed to do so. To speak of spiritual practice in any terms other than these is meaningless.
“My call for a spiritual revolution is thus not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow otherworldly…. Rather, it is a call for a radical reorientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self.”
So, Praxis is designed to be the D.L’s “spiritual revolution”! And, as we know, that “habitual preoccupation with self” (especially the negative, “not good” aspects of self) is not a habit that can be ended with just a little willpower or with the right spiritual technique or reading the right book.
What it will take is time… and practice. Which is what the word “Praxis” means!
[PS: If I did this correctly, this page should be “private” to the Praxis community… Feel free to leave comments below.]
We were most interested in your recent questionnaire and though we do not “qualify” according to your list, we would like to discuss this further. We have done extensive work/practice in this area.
Nancy and Phil