It’s the way we look at things,Which separates us from many thingsThinking to find lasting pleasure,Avoiding the pain and pressureLife goes in circles endlessly,Causing us to suffer greatly It’s our expectations that are limiting,To lead a life befittingSuffering the urge to compare,Leads us to a life of despairThe desire to control others,Our whole life bothersA life spent trying to be richer than others,When you realize that no one bothersBe clear in your understanding,Hope is what makes life worth livingBy keeping our minds and hearts open,We allow the divine gates to openIt’s when you look inward,Is when you start moving forwardIt’s expectations which separate you from self,And it's hope that keeps you connectedby Sree
People often tend to use both these terms interchangeably and have a general misunderstanding about what they actually mean. When that happens then you are caught in a vicious cycle of trying to become better doing something, being the best in studies, climbing up the corporate ladder, earning loads of money, getting better looks and more. All this in the fond hope that it’ll will help enhance one’s self-esteem. Even yours truly has been guilty of believing in it for a long time and recommending it as a possible way to many others around me.
It’s only when I got down to think deeply into this matter that I realized how far away from the truth I am.
Have you ever wondered why so many celebrities like actors, sportspeople, the rich and powerful, award-winners, the beautiful feel depressed and end up doing harm to themselves? You start to think why such a successful person who has received so much accolade in his field of work would commit suicide, do drugs, become a recluse, and even go to jail?
Our thinking is probably influenced by our misunderstanding of the concept of self-esteem and self-confidence. All those people who I referred to in the above example may appear to be and are highly self-confident in what they do but not necessarily comfortable in their skin.
The fact is self-confidence and self-esteem bear only a passing relationship to each other.
What then is self-esteem?
It is how we see ourselves and how worthy we feel in the world we are in, just as we are. It refers to our acceptance of self and the value we place on ourselves. It is intrinsic in the word ‘esteem’ which means ‘to regard highly’. High self-esteem therefore would mean we regard and value ourselves very highly and low would mean we regard ourselves low.
What then is self-confidence?
Self-confidence on the other hand relates more with our competence. It is the level of confidence we have in the area of our work. For example we would have won several awards and accolades at work or in school and therefore feel very confident about the very skills which got us those awards or recognition.
The negative effects of this confusion
People often confuse self-confidence with self-esteem. They put all their effort into being the best parent, spouse, child, employee, sportsperson, actor in the world and they’re very confident about their abilities, but despite all that it does not make them happy.
This misunderstanding between self-confidence and self-esteem often makes people choose the wrong road in order to become that person who is settled in their skin. I have seen many who spend extraordinary amount of money and resources on their appearance feeling that it would make them love themselves more only to find that at the end of it all they still seem to be not liking themselves.
I have also seen people who think that by amassing wealth they would be happy and start becoming better and better at earning and amassing wealth. They eventually realize that the more they do chase such solutions the more they find the goals moving further and further away. This leads them to start thinking about the futility of it all, as no amount of wealth has made them to be happy. It is a never-ending cycle.
Where did it all begin?
Your self-esteem probably was influenced and set in your early childhood. If you were given unconditional love and acceptance as a child then it would influence whether you accept yourself unconditionally. If you always felt or made to feel that you had to be at your best behavior and meet all expectations of your parents in order to be accepted by them then that would influence your acceptance of self as being based purely on your achievements. Isn’t it the case with most children? They grow up never really understanding and accepting themselves for who they are, always trying to put on a show, eventually losing the sense of self-worth.
That’s what happens for example in the case of celebrities, when they operate out of fear that they would lose all acceptance of others when they get old, look less attractive, become weak with age and retire. Since their sense of self-worth was always built around extraneous factors which actually was only helping improve their self-confidence, they fall flat.
I am in no way suggesting that working hard to be good at something you like is necessarily a bad thing. My only submission is that gaining high self-confidence is not going to automatically lead to feeling better about yourself.
Self-esteem involves working on self-acceptance and self-love than trying to ‘fix’ yourself by doing what you do, better and better. It is a thin line with a profound difference.
Have you felt this way? Are you high on self-confidence and still not happy?
Maybe, its time you re-examine your approach!
“Self-confidence relates to your Body and Self-esteem relates to your Soul”
Some, not many, wake up in the morning with a smile. Most of us, I fear, are in a bad humor before breakfast. It is a pleasant habit, and a profitable one, to begin everyday with a laugh and a bit of fun. It starts the day well, and it helps to make a happy home.
Let me narrate a story.
There was this highly successful businessman who had achieved everything in life, all planning and meticulous in his approach to life. Just the ideal life any body would have like to have.
One fine morning when he woke up, he found to his utter dismay that his slippers were missing from under his bed. It had never happened before, which made him wild and seething with anger, he started shouting for someone to get him his slippers. There was no response. He found that the slippers were moved out of the room by his puppy dog. He was wild at his son, who had pestered him and insisted that the dog be brought home.
In the same fit of anger, he moved into the bath, started shaving, hands moving fast over his cheeks (anger, anger). What happened was he cut his chin, with blood oozing out, he applied the after shave, which started burning his whole face (anger… anger). He threw the razor and rushed out of his bath, put on his dress to find that his handkerchief was not washed and kept ready. He started shouting at his wife to whom he was married for over 25 years. In the same mood, he walked out to the dining area for his breakfast, shouting all the while about how he had a bad start to the day. His wife in the meanwhile was hurriedly bringing the milk and bread and spilt the same on him. Can you imagine how wild this man was, he saw his young son playing on the floor, he slapped him carrying forward his anger and rushed out into his car.
He drove very fast, (anger… anger); abused everyone on the road and on the way met with an accident, which hospitalized him for over 3 months.
What transpired was he fell in love with the nurse, divorced his loving wife and got later into a libel suit filed both by his wife as well as the nurse. Lost all his money, became a mental wreck.
Where did it all start? – Missing slippers? OR
If only he would have laughed of the situation and kept it lighter, he wouldn’t have been in a mess like this.
How many of us go through such situation, where we start the day with anger and find that the whole day is in a mess?
Who do you think is reponsible?
Laugh away the small irritants in life – you will avoid the bigger and larger pitfalls.
How often do you “Live and re-Live” your life stories?
Live and re-live your life stories, there are hidden gems there.
There is so much to learn from daily reflections of our own life that you will be amazed at the potential ‘wisdom’ you carry around with you.
Haven’t you always sensed this when you have listened to the lecture or talk of the so-called ‘wise-man’ or guru?
….. that this person is not saying anything new and you already knew all what is being said?
At times have you felt that you yourself could be a ‘guru’ to someone and easily narrate such stories?
What it points to is that there is a wealth of ‘wisdom’ which lies within each one of us. That which has come to us from our own life experiences. Probably why the cliché’ “wiser by experience” or by “hindsight” has been in vogue. Also, peddled by the so-called gurus as if it is discovery of ‘truth’ or something like that.
When you fail to spend some time by reflecting on your life experiences and trying to learn from them, you miss a great opportunity.
Will it not be more convincing if you narrate your life stories to yourself everyday and the lessons you learnt from them?
It cannot get more authentic than that!
So, STOP looking for ‘wisdom’ – the ‘PEARLS’ are hidden well within!
There is something like ‘Cycle of Change’, which all of us go through in our life. Acknowledging where we are in this cycle and having the belief that the wheel of life keeps revolving all the time should give us the confidence of moving ahead.
Let me broadly describe the four stages in this cycle and you may want to see where you are at this moment.
Breakthrough stage: A time of big changes, disruptions, when you experience a feeling of insecurity or excitement. Someone experiencing this stage in life will make statements like “I’ve no idea what I am going to do now'”, ” I am at cross-roads now”, “I’ve no idea of my next move” , “I got a shock of my life”, “I am too excited about the prospects, and have butterflies in my stomach”, “I ‘m just anxious about the outcome”.
Has any change impacted your sense of identity, sense of direction, living conditions or support system?
Do you see a huge gap between what you want and what you have right now?
Answering “Yes” to any of these questions or thoughts could mean that you are right now in the midst of change and it is time for a change.
Vaccum stage: This is totally in contrast to the earlier stage. In this you will have a feeling of being stuck. A sort of non-change time. You might be saying things like “Nothing is happening”, “I feel stuck”, “I don’t really know how I will get past this blocks”, “I am trying but nothing is changing”, “Nothing is going right for me”, “Looks like life has almost come to a standstill”.
Do you feel helpless or hopeless?
Does life seem out of control or are you unable to see a clear path of direction?
Does it all feel meaningless right now?
All of us go through this disconnected stage, where we feel lonely, with a feeling that we have to fight this battle on our own and no one is with us or supporting us in this hour. The best way to move on from this stage is to acknowledge that something is not working, sharing with others your concerns to relieve yourself from the stress, getting advice and involve others a little more into your life. You don’t need to fight this battle all alone.
Remember the biggest mistake at this stage would be to assume that you can achieve everything on your own and you do not need anyone’s help or advice.
Start asking questions, like what is it that I really want? Am I suffering alone because of my pride? Is my ego coming in the way of my growth and success? Do I feel others around me are not good enough or better than me? Do I have the courage, to seek help?
Bounce back stage: After a period of stagnating and loss, people often see good things happen. Perhaps, all along you have been having a hard time and suddenly, something wonderful happens. You start saying things like “Wow, can’t really complain, life couldn’t have been better”, ”You won’t believe, what just happened”, “You know what, I’ve finally got what I really wanted or was looking for”, “I am just feeling excited about the whole prospect”.
This stage in your life is all about positive energy and you feel it. It starts opening new doors for you. You start seeing new strengths in yourself and accomplishing things which makes you feel good. You start loving every bit of what you are doing right now. Hope returns and your faith in yourself is re-ignited.
Do you feel motivated again? A light at the end of the tunnel?
Do you feel that the lessons of the past are now starting to help you achieve more?
Have you again started trusting your intuition?
All this goes to show that either you are starting to bounce back or you are ready for the next stage in the cycle of change in your life.
Life balance stage: After the bounce back has begun and gained momentum, you enter a steady phase of life, where you feel normal again. You finally start saying “I am in cruise mode, and am really enjoying what I am doing right now”, “It’s just perfect for me and everything has worked out the way I wanted”, “I really would want this phase to continue forever”, “Finally I seem to be having some time for myself” .
All this means that you are back to life again, feeling every bit lively, feeling great when you wake up in the morning, enjoying what you are doing right now, feeling that greater prospects lie ahead of you, wanting to take up new interests and activities. Congratulations, you have arrived at the most wonderful part of the cycle.
Remember, to enjoy each and every moment of it. After all, we call this the ‘Cycle of Change’ and it goes in circles.
We often are so much attached to the outcome or result that we fail to enjoy the process or the journey. We either seem to get anxious about the possibility or when the outcome is not what we expected it to be, get depressed by it.
So much so, that even when we do get a positive outcome, we seem to be more relieved than happy. Relieved of the fact that the journey has ended.
You must realize that you do not have so much control over the outcome; as much as you have on the process. Have you not experienced this, for example when you are too much attached to the result of a soccer match that we remain tense through out without enjoying the beautiful way in which the two teams are competing on the field.
We sit there imagining what would be the state of the team we support if they lose or win? in the process missing some of the great moments.
Isn’t it the same nowadays when people go on a holiday?
I see that people are so much concerned or shall I say obsessed about how well the pictures are taken that they forget soaking in the beauty of the whole journey.
Release your attachment to the outcome!
Releasing your attachment to the outcome doesn’t mean that you are any less interested in manifesting your goal. It only means that you are going to be less interested in the fear of not achieving it. You shift your attention away from fear and start feeling safe.
The secret to remain relaxed, content and happy is to be in the ‘process’; ‘live in the process’, ‘enjoy the process’.
I would love to hear from you.
How do you feel about detaching yourself from the outcome and focusing on the process?