As you may know if you follow Ackadia, I’ve been struggling with ill-health for several years now and spells of sometimes suicidal levels of chronic depression, the last – current – spell being especially bad, probably the worst. Details don’t matter but I had myself put in hospital before I got any worse and am now being helped by a Crisis Team and being passed to other teams to help me get over this.
One of the things that’s come out is very low levels of self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness. Ironic as I have a rather high IQ and am well aware of my potential. But I am held back because a lifetime of physical and mental abuse, of bad decisions and choices and more than a little sheer bad luck have ingrained in me that I’m useless, worthless, a complete failure, that I’m not good enough…
That’s something they are going to try to help me with, but as they pointed out, some of that help must come from within. If I’m not willing to help myself there’s little they can do.
With that in mind I’ve a list of self-help books to read dealing with emotional healing, overcoming low self-esteem and with positive thinking. The first one of these happens to be:
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers
The notes I make below are more for myself but I’m sure you’ll find it a good book to read, whatever your needs. There’s something deeply ironic about this being the first book I got to read, but that’s another tale.
Level 1 fears: ‘Stuff happens’ (being alone, change, illness) and ‘Stuff needs action (making friends, ending a relationship)
Level 2 fears: ‘Ego related’ (rejection, failure, disapproval, helplessness)
Level 3 fears: ‘The nub of it’ :
I can’t handle it!
The premise of the book is this:
All you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way!
Not as easy as it sounds if you’ve had a lifetime of getting kicked in the teeth, but the message is you have to overcome these deeply ingrained fears.
She goes on to add:
“I am belaboring the point because it is so critical. From this moment on, every time you feel afraid, remind yourself that is it simply because you are not feeling good enough about yourself.”
The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow
(Had to read it through a few times for that to sink in to be honest. What she’s saying is there will always be new fears, and you just have to overcome them one at a time.)
The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it
(Note that I am positive here she is talking about life in general and NOT Jackass stunts!)
The only way to feel better about myself is to go out …and do it
(Or in my case, keep active for now, one step at a time :S )
Not only am I going to experience fear when ever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else
(The fear you feel is normal, get over it)
Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear than comes from a feeling of helplessness
(It’s worth buying the book for that one sentence alone. No, really, it is. Just wish I’d got this book years ago when it would have made a huge difference to my life. Just have to go from where I am now. That sentence itself is negative, “If only” is defeatist, self-destructive, rather a sign of the mess I’m in – and working to break out of. For me it will take months, possibly years and some of the pain will always be with me, but you have to try…)
The next chapter looks at the concept of fear. It is not the ‘fear’ itself that’s the issue, but how strong a hold we let it take on us; for some it’s a buzz that psyches them up, for others the same fear will translate to panic attacks or even paralysis until it goes away. (For me it’s usually avoidance I think!).
This is interesting,
your subconscious believes only what it hears, not what is true
So, in the example given, if you keep using terms like ‘if only’, ‘I hope’, ‘I can’t’, ‘I should’ you are telling yourself you are weak, setting up a fail, you need to replace with more positive terms such as ‘Next time’, ‘I know’, ‘I won’t’, ‘I could’. You get the idea anyway.
There’s also an interesting box drawing that shows that as you face and overcome your fears your ‘comfort zone expands’. At present my comfort zone is a crowded 6×8 box room that I literally have to turn sideways and shuffle along to get into my chair, where I sit alone and growl at anyone and everyone coming near me. And I’ve sat in here like this for over ten years. And that’s just in a real, physical sense, my mind is in a much worse state. (Yes, I need and am getting help!)
Another chapter looks at what the author calls ‘payoffs‘.
Pay? You say, must be a good thing. But actually no, it’s a very bad thing and I know from negativity examples in the book that I can relate too it’s self-destructive. The ‘payoff’ is the reason, the excuse, the thing you use to keep yourself in the rut or situation you are in.
For instance the ‘payoff’ for staying in a really miserable job is
well, it pays the bills, what else could I get; the ‘payoff’ for staying in a soul-destroying relationship is
at least I have someone, who else would want me
You stay because you are to scared of what MIGHT happen if you try to move on. You feel your life can’t get much worse, yet the ‘payoffs’ convince you they can and will if you move from this ‘comfy zone’ (For me the comfy zone being so happy I sought suicide rather that face another day of it). You let these pitiful payoffs shackle yourself to misery and heartache, you let them stop you moving on and realising your life can get a lot better – if only you have the self-belief and courage to act.
The thing about painting yourself into a corner is you are the one doing all the painting. It’s up to you yourself to free yourself. Determine what you want in life and act on it. Sometimes though, sadly, you are too late to act. If that’s the case the action is accept the pain and move on. It’s not easy, but sometimes you have no choice.
Another quote that stuck out to me was this :
Security is not having things, it’s handling things
She also came up with a ‘No lose model’
Basically when you have two options you fret over which is the right one and both become the wrong one, whichever you take. What you have to do is train your mind to do is see both paths as the right path – regardless of the outcome. You learn along the way and if you only learn that that path wasn’t right for you, then you take it on board as progress – not as failing – and move on from there.
The trick in life is not to worry about making a wrong decision, it’s when to correct.
There is more to this book, like the ‘no lose decision-making process’ but I’ll leave you to get the book and find that for yourself.
There are also ‘life grids’ that some – myself included – will find very helpful. Essentially if you focus all your life, heart, whatever on only one person or object or path and something happens you are left with a huge empty hole in your life and it eats you alive. If you have a balanced focus of say 9 paths or interests then the loss of one, or even a couple can be overcome so much more easily.
Action is the key to your success
Finally she goes on about the angel and devil on your shoulders. She doesn’t remotely label it so, she calls it
Higher Self and
Chatterbox, but it amounts to the same thing. The ‘Higher Sense’ is your happy thoughts, your tears of joy, your self-belief and gut instincts that prove correct. The ‘Chatterbox’ is a lot more vocal, incessant and invariably negative. It’s the voice in your head that tells you that you’ll fail, that reminds you of all the bad stuff in your life, that warns you off all the horrid, painful things that ‘could‘ happen if you try.
Ironically, when I was younger, despite a painful childhood, I only had the ‘Higher Sense’ and was optimistic, outgoing, active. But stuff happens and the Chatterbox took over – and eventually I let it destroy my life and my health and my hopes for the future. I know I can move on, recover (yet again) over time, but the losses this time have hurt so very, very much…
Note that negative as this may read to some, it’s an empowering start for me. I’ve been in such a dark place lately that my family and doctors genuinely feared that each time I went out or they left me alone for anytime… It’s still a risk but I’m dealing with it one hour, one day at a time and this book has helped a great deal already. In time I will move on, start afresh a new person. Life goes on.
Today’s quote was by Albert Einstein:
Three Rules of Work: 1. Out of clutter, find simplicity. 2. From discord, find harmony. 3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.