If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, and especially if you’ve attended any of my teleseminars, workshops and support groups, then congratulations – your higher level of commitment has put you on a path toward “healing from the source.”
Every day we all have opportunities to bring in positive thoughts and messages about ourselves and our lives. Now we just have to learn how to be conscious and aware of these opportunities. It’s my sincere desire in today’s post to help you do just that.
This month as the big holiday season approaches, some of us are preparing for potentially drama-filled family gatherings. If that’s you, then you’re in the right place, because today I want to provide you with a highly relevant reminder to focus on strengthening and protecting your most important asset: your self-esteem.
What does that have to do with “fitting in” with your family? Simple: family is the crucible in which our most delicate vulnerabilities tend to be re-awakened and re-aggravated. That’s because they were formed inside the family experience when we were young.
The family environment is the most challenging to our positive self-image because of all the uncomfortable roles, sibling rivalry, perceptions of parental unfairness, and all the other hurt feelings that never got resolved back then.
We all struggled to find our place in the family dynamic, and to discover some ways to feel good about ourselves. For some of us that meant conforming to roles that others wanted us to play, and for some of us it meant absolutely rejecting those roles, and finding our sense of self-worth and value by following an independent path.
Whichever route we’ve taken in our lives, being back in the family fold for a while is bound to trigger some unresolved feelings and perceptions around how accepted we feel, and how much we care about being accepted. The more solid our self-esteem is in general, the better able we will be to ride out those “rough spots” when old family patterns show up!
It’s great to be self-aware about when we’re freely choosing, without any resentment or blaming of others, to “go with the flow” simply in order to avoid unnecessary arguments, drama and potentially hurt feelings. That is a very generous thing we do for ourselves when we have an intention of maintaining harmony. That’s a very self-esteem affirming thing to do.
On the other hand, if your particular pattern has been to seethe in silent resentment while pretending to be “just fine” with some disrespectful way that a family member has always treated you (maybe because you feel that you “don’t have a choice” or “don’t deserve” to speak up for yourself), you are then actively participating in your self-esteem being diminished.
Healthy self-esteem doesn’t just make you feel good. It also makes possible more harmonious interactions in even the most potentially high-stress family and social circumstances, by helping you to:
- not take things personally
- see others in a more favorable light
- find compassion in your heart when you encounter conflict
- be willing to “give a little” rather than feel you must have things the way you’d like
It’s also important, when someone behaves toward you in a way that seems too demeaning or disrespectful to let it pass, to gently but firmly speak up and share how you feel. Let them know the impact their behavior is having on you, and that you’d appreciate it if they wouldn’t do that any more.
If you can’t summon the courage to speak up in that particular moment, or don’t think it’s the right time to do so given whoever else may be present, consider tactfully removing yourself from the situation. Find a quiet place where you can STOP! BREATHE! and FOCUS! Remind yourself that “Who I Am Is Enough!”
You get to decide when you want to “fit in” by letting something pass and letting old patterns go unchallenged. You also get to choose when to stand out by not continuing to participate in those old patterns.
Either way, give yourself lots of credit for your awareness, and your ability to process the interaction by being clear about your desired outcome in the situation, and making conscious choices that reaffirm your self-worth and your self-respect.
You can do it!