A thirty-plus year old woman complained to me once that her parents had deprived her of an opportunity to gain self-esteem through her own efforts. She said they paid off her 80 thousand dollar mortgage and cheated her of the chance to pay her home off herself.
Something green and ugly, something named envy, jumped onto my shoulder and shouted in my ear. “Slap her! SLAP her! What a spoilt brat! Why can’t *I* have parents who would pay *MY* mortgage off? How DARE she complain!?”
That’s envy for you – it wants what someone else has. It feels entitled to what someone else has. It ignores all other considerations apart from that sense of entitlement.
A woman embraced a man and kissed his cheek. He was not my man but he was a man I wanted for myself and something green and ugly, something named jealousy, jumped onto my shoulder and shouted in my ear. “Slap her! SLAP her! He’s MINE! How DARE she come between me and what is mine!?”
That’s jealousy for you – it tries to claim what it has no right to claim. Other people are not possessions. You cannot OWN them however much some people may think you can.
I shrugged off the envy by telling myself I would rather pay 80 thousand dollars than be the sort of person who would COMPLAIN about being given 80 thousand dollars! I shrugged off the jealousy by telling myself I would rather lose the man now than waste my time on someone who would rather be with someone else.
It’s pretty rare for me to feel envy or jealousy. When I do, like the above mentioned times, I am able to shrug it off pretty fast. I can shrug those feelings off because I do not measure myself against anything or anyone except that shining perfection I see dancing before my eyes. The vision of a perfect ME. The me I was created to be!
My goal is to become the best possible version of ME that I can become. I measure myself against myself and strive constantly to become a better version of myself. I envy nobody, I am jealous of nobody because nobody else is ME. Nobody else is a better version of ME.
I don’t want to be anyone else. I don’t want to be YOU! I don’t care if you are the best looking, the richest, the most powerful person in the world. I do not want to be YOU! If I became you I would become nothing – a mere imitation of the original!
I believe I am special. I am an original. I can do what nobody else in the whole world can do – be me! Over the years I have explored who I am and what I have to offer. I have found out what things I can do and what I cannot do. I can write, I can care about other people, I can be a good Mum, I can be loyal, honest, trustworthy, reliable, faithful and a lot more.
There are a lot of things I cannot be. I can’t paint, I can’t play chess, I can often be really thoughtless and inconsiderate but I pick my battles. I focus on who I can be and write off the things I can’t be. I would like to be able to paint but I have tried and it is not one of my talents. I don’t want to learn chess so I don’t care that I can’t play it. I would like to be more thoughtful and considerate so I try to be those things but I accept there will be times when I fail.
The key to finding self-esteem is to look at what you like in other people. I don’t mind if others are a little thoughtless or inconsiderate of me so I can accept that trait in myself. I admire people who are honest, caring, fair, reliable, faithful, trustworthy and who really try to do right by me. If I admire those qualities in other people it makes sense to think I will admire them in myself. I set the standard for liking and respecting myself by looking at what makes me like and respect others.
A word of caution here – to get this whole self-esteem thing right I had to DISCARD the standards set for me when I was a child. As a child the standard was perfection! There was no such thing as allowances for mistakes or human fallibility – one minor imperfection and the whole lot was classified worthless. I had to drop those unrealistic expectations of myself and other people and set the standard at a realistic level.
My self-esteem used to hinge on being able to meet ridiculous, impossible, standards. I could not, of course, meet them and nor could anyone else. This led to poor self-esteem and major problems in my relationships with other people.
When I studied psychology I gained knowledge and insight into humanity and discovered how unrealistic and impossible my standards were and I was able to stop tearing myself and my relationships apart. I was able to set new standards based on what I learned was within reach of normal human beings.
Now my self-esteem hinges on whether I can meet those new standards. I view myself, for example, as honest. If I lie I forfeit the right to view myself as honest so I tell the truth as much as I possibly can no matter what that costs me. I would rather see myself as honest than get a quick buck by lying or even keeping quiet. The buck will be gone within days but the knowledge I am a liar will stay with me much longer than that and eat away at my self-esteem.
The knowledge I spoke up at my own expense, however, gives me the right to claim I am exceptionally honest – more honest than the average, normal, human being. I am able to give myself points for that and my self-esteem goes up. My respect for the world goes down, of course, what sort of world says “Be honest” then punishes people for it when they are?
I like myself. I respect myself. Because of that I am absolutely certain I have what it takes to keep someone I love but only if they are the right person for me. If someone I love decides to love someone else it will not be because there is anything wrong with me. It will be because THEY were not right for ME. I will mourn the loss and move on secure in the knowledge the right person for me would never leave me and I will be a thousand times happier with Mr Right than I ever could have been with Mr Wrong.
I don’t care what people think of me most of the time. Other people’s opinion of me, my work, my abilities don’t matter unless I think the person is objective and, therefore, likely to be right! If they are right then, to achieve my goal of becoming the best me I can be, I need to listen to them and use their criticisms to try to improve myself.
I am, of course, concerned about other people’s opinions if it could lead to trouble for me because I don’t want or need trouble. I try to avoid that if I can but I know it is not always going to be possible. It certainly isn’t worth giving up important parts of who I am to avoid trouble. It took me too long and cost too much to get all the bits of me that I have collected so far together. I’m not parting with any of it just to avoid trouble!
The thing that amazes me the most is the reaction other people have to me now. They envy me my self-esteem! People who are the object of envy from others envy ME because all the money and possessions in the world can’t buy them genuine self-esteem!
I’m happy to share the secret to good self-esteem with them. I don’t mind if they end up with everything they have PLUS what I have. They still won’t be me so I still won’t want to be them. I still have my main goal in sight – becoming the perfect me. I do not know what I will look like if I reach the goal so it’s no use worrying about what others have.
If I become the perfect me the world may not approve. I may look poor to the world, I may look stupid, I may look laughable but the world looks poor, stupid and laughable to me a lot of the time now.
I think the world is often vain and shallow. More often than not the world cannot tell the difference between a pile of sh*t and a diamond.
The world gives money and possessions, respect and admiration, power and positions to PAEDOPHILES! The world abuses, tortures, steals, mutilates and destroys things of real value like the trust of a child, the habitat of rare species, even the air we breathe!
The world mocks and spits on God, faith, love, trust, innocence, faithfulness, loyalty and all the things that, in my opinion, make living worthwhile. The world is greedy, selfish, abusive, power-mad, sex-crazed and money hungry.
Where was the world when I was being abused as a child? The world told me I was nothing. The world said I had no rights. The world claimed I had no worth, no value, nothing of interest to it apart from my body. The world told me a big fat pack of lies and stomped all over me in those days.
The world has nothing to say that I wish to hear any more. I know the world tells massive lies. I don’t respect liars so let the world think what it wants. I’m not going to play it’s stupid power games or follow the mob to savage the weakest links. I’m not going to chase it’s goals – I have my own. I don’t admire the people the world worships so I don’t want to be them. No amount of money, no possession, no lover, could ever be worth as much to me, or be as essential to my well-being, as my self-esteem.
Having good self-esteem is a pretty heady feeling and one I strongly recommend. It is the best cure available for anyone who suffers from jealousy or envy. It’s a pretty powerful antidote to loneliness too. If you genuinely like and respect yourself you don’t mind being in your own company.