Tag Archives: relationships

An Unlikely Pair: Low Self-esteem and Pride

5 Mar

I’m not sure why these two even hang out.  They don’t appear to have much in common and the way they stick together is nothing short of dysfunctional.  Stick with me while I attempt to describe them and their co-dependent relationship.  

I used to have an opinion that Pride acted like somewhat of a bully convincing Low Self Esteem how much he (Pride)is needed.  Then lately, I decided that maybe it is Low Self-Esteem that is driving the train. 

Their conversation may sound something like this:

Pride:  Look at you Low Self-Esteem, just look at you.  It is clear to me and everyone else that I should step in here and help you out.  You couldn’t defend yourself if your life depended on it.  You are weak and empty and you need me.  If I don’t step out in front of you, then people are gonna see you.  They may laugh or maybe they will end up feeling sorry for you but they definitely won’t choose to be with you.  I’m all you have.

Low Self-esteem:  Well ok, Pride, but make us look good.  Be loud and proud and cause a big scene.  I am pretty sure if you are loud you will be noticed.  If you raise your hands up for emphasis when you speak, it will appear we are really sure of ourselves.  Hold your ground no matter what because we have nothing to lose.  We aren’t worth much value to anyone.  Never have been, probably never will be.

What these two need is an intervention.  They need a third party bystander to step in with some perspective.   I know just what they need.   Enter Spirit.

Spirit:  Hello pride, may I kindly speak with you?  I’d like to point out that while you may believe you are what Low Self Esteem needs, I believe you are making things worse.  In fact, you are not only attempting to cover up Low Self Esteem, you are hurting me in the process.  You see, Low Self Esteem doesn’t need to hide behind Pride to rise up. In fact, you aren’t fooling anyone by making such a ruckus.  Everyone can see right through you to Low Self Esteem.  You are transparent.  I think it is time for you to step aside and let someone else be with Low Self Esteem.  I have been trying for a long time to introduce Low Self Esteem to Self Love.  Take a hike Pride.

Self Love:  Hello Low Self Esteem.  I have been trying to get to you for a very long time.  I am thankful for the Spirit for letting us come together.  I think you are amazing and I can’t wait to see what we can do together to rise up.

Low Self Esteem:  You’ve been waiting to get to me?  But why?  I’m nothing.  Now I am all alone and vulnerable.

Self Love:  This is the perfect time to set Pride aside and focus on you.  Tell me what you need and I am here for you.   We have the Self in common and we will go far together.  And now that Pride is out of the way, your Spirit can be whole again.

Lesson:  Listen to your Spirit.  It is the essence of who you are and knows what you need.  Rid yourself of the all that is not Love.

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Little Children Come Out to Play

26 Jan

It would be nice if they would ask our permission, but they don’t. Our little children come out to play without any warning at all. I’m not talking about our sons and daughters. I’m talking about that outer child we all have. the outer child that protects the inner child inside of us. Sound confusing? Maybe but you know the one… they are always causing problems for us. They get in the way of happy, healthy relationships.

One little comment to a grown up can come off one way but once the outer child hears it, it becomes quite the problem. Not because the comment was anything big and not because the outer child is overly dramatic. It is solely because the outer child feels the responsibility to protect the inner child also known as the wounded child. And they are hurting – always. They lie beneath our surface and wait. When they hear anything that sounds remotely like the hurtful words of our parents or they see something happening that reminds them of the hurts and fears of childhood, they call on the outer child and well let’s just say it is downhill from there. As adults we can no longer see clearly or think rationally. We are overtaken by the tantrums and fits of our outer child. We operate from a place of hurt and start moving further and further away from healing. Who knew these little people could do so much damage?

The bad news is the inner child and the outer child are a part of us now and forever. The good news is they are not strangers to us. We know them well and they are close enough to call on and speak directly to. First you have to make sure you recognize your outer child is there. Go back to a previous blog called Identifying Your Outer Child and see if you recognize yours.

The next step is to get to know them a little better when things are calm. Start talking to them now before they jump out and yell at your partner on your behalf. The irony is they think they are helping. They go into attack mode to try to defend because they are protecting the hurting child inside of you. It gets even more complicated because as it turns out, they weren’t really yelling at your partner at all. They were fighting with your partner’s outer child. Now we’ve got multiple children who have come out without permission and they are really getting into it. It can be ugly.

The best way to get to know your inner and outer children is to start talking to them. Be kind, because they are typically in a state of hurt most of the time and only have the reasoning of children. Be patient when they are immature and not listening to you or your partner. Then… lay down the law. For example, I had to start by explaining to my inner child that she is safe because I am a grown up and I will take care of her. That job belongs to me I will never abandon her. I am here, always. I tell her that I understand she needs attention and that I will work hard, in a grown up way, to get it. I explain that fits of crying and sarcastic comments from the outer child will not help me and my partner. I tell my outer child that she needs to stay quiet and let the grown up part of me take care of my relationship. I tell my inner child that I love her but that I’ve got this and she is not to send out the outer child and start causing problems. Most of the time she listens and the grown up side of me gets to stay happy and healthy.

But there is something else that is really important. It’s not enough just to see your own inner and outer children. You must recognize that there is a wounded child inside your mate. That child was told ugly things and hurt in ways you may never fully understand. You don’t have too really you just have to keep your outer child at bay when dealing with your mate’s “children.”. The grown up in you can step up and soothe their inner child. You can say kind things to build them up or calm them down. See the child, be the grown up. You would never yell at a hurting child on purpose but that is essentially what is happening if we are not clearly seeing who is standing before us, our grown up mate or their outer child who has come out without permission.

Those Who Dream…

31 Dec

There is a difference in those who dream and those who don’t. It’s more than a case of optimism versus pessimism and it definitely does not have anything to do with those who hold low expectations and prefer to be happily surprised when something goes their way. Dreaming is about something much bigger.

In true Amy fashion, I was the first one into the courthouse this morning to file my Assumed Name Certificate. I opened a business. While the physical doors built into the brick and mortar, have not opened, the dream has begun. It’s been building in my heart and in my head for years now. While it is great to be an American and live in a land of opportunity where I can own my own business, I still see there is something greater at work. There wasn’t exactly a line out the door of the courthouse, yet every American has the same opportunity that I have. What gives?

As I saw it from a business standpoint this morning, I often see it from a relationship standpoint. What about those friends of mine who have given up on love or decided there isn’t anybody who wants to love them in this lifetime? They’ve lost the dream. But why?

Whether it is matters of business or matters of the heart, the difference between those who dream and those who don’t comes down to just one thing. Those who dream believe they deserve to. At the core of their being, they feel worthy of what they dream for – a business of their own, a love greater than they can even imagine. It should be rightfully theirs because they are a valuable human being who deserves nothing less.

My research isn’t formal but I find that the higher the self-esteem one has, the further into the future they can see their lives. They are willing to go there because they are hopeful it will be decent if not great. They dare to dream.

Just like everybody else, I’ve been knocked down and had my dreams fall apart in more ways than one. There were quiet years in my life where I moved forward but just got by. I’d lost some of who I was and was afraid to dream. Getting hurt can do a number on most of us and a common response is just to be content where we are, maybe even hide out in place of safety and a state of complacency. No dreams allowed. If you find yourself in this spot, take some time and see if there is any connection to your beliefs about who you are and what you deserve. If that turns out to be the case, I don’t know what they told you about yourself, but it isn’t true. You are worthy of your dreams.

Now to tell you to go forward and dream big wouldn’t be fair. It’s like telling you to start on 1st base without recognizing that the dreaming starts at home plate. Believing you’re worthy of your dreams must come first. Weed through the junk and find your way back to you. Believe in yourself and then chase the dream until it is yours.

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Good luck. I’m rooting for you!

Look Both Ways Before Crossing…

23 Dec

I know you’ve heard those words of wisdom, at least in reference to crossing streets.  I’d like to put a new spin on it for you and encourage you to look both ways before crossing your partner.

Remember first that you are with them for a reason, hopefully many reasons.  One of the reasons is because they get you.  Most of choose someone who understands us, and knows us like no one else.  Sometimes they can see us when we can’t even see ourselves.

I’m the first to admit that I am stubborn and I usually start off every argument sure that I’m right and it is just a matter of proving it.  In my head it sounds like this… “Once I state my case I can go on my merry way of doing things the way I do them.   They’ll see that I was right all along.”

I have often fallen into the trap of preparing my evidence rather than listening to the other side and the perspectives of those who matter to me.  Listening can be difficult when I’m on a mission to prove myself right.  And I find the hardest thing to do is to stop talking and hear how I am being perceived by those I love.  But eventually I do it and I call that looking both ways, my way and their way. 

I know their way matters.  I respect their way of seeing things, it is one of the reasons I chose them to be in my life.  They are smart, observant and they shoot straight with me.  Yes it hurts.  The truth always does.

It’s not in my best interest to cross them and walk around being right all the time.  It’s not in yours either.  Look at the loves in your life.  How and why did you let them in?  Is it safe to be you?   When they call you out on something is it out of love and their hope for you to be accountable and be your best?  For you to grow and be more of who they learned to love in the beginning?  If so… look both ways before crossing your partner.

Undo It

6 Dec

“I want you to undo it.” That’s all I could think to say in the midst of my pain. I knew it was not a fair request. I knew it could not be undone, but it’s all I had left. I was grasping just trying to stay in the moment because I knew what was coming next. It’s the act that always follows me getting hurt. In this act there are three scenes.

Scene 1: Self-hatred. The beating begins. The other person caused the pain but I take the beating. What’s worse is I do the beating. “How could I be so stupid? How did I let this happen? How did I get fooled once again? If I were smart, I would have listened to my gut.” The questions and the self-loathing go on for days. I usually stop about the time my eyes are ready to swell shut from all the crying. It’s then that the last harsh words are internalized, the curtain closes and I wait in anticipation of the next scene.

Scene 2: The lesson. So help me God if I don’t learn something from this pain. I cannot and will not just get hurt. There has to be a lesson in here somewhere. And the meaning-making begins. This part lasts even longer which I guess is a good thing. The lessons are always different and the experience changes with every hurt but I can tell you what happened this time. With the drop of the last tear my head cleared and I heard my own mantra… “This is what it means to be with me.” Here was an opportunity to say it again, the chance to be authentic knowing that every person has the choice to take me or leave me. I began the conversation in my head, gathered my thoughts, my questions, and challenged myself to stay focused. The most genuine and heart felt talks followed. It was the kind of “real” I have always wanted. As time passes and the play continues, I am learning to be a much better communicator. I can articulate my values and my deal-breakers in one breath. You’d be surprised how few people can do this. I can disagree without raising my voice. This is huge. I used to be a class act yeller and I hated it. There were lots of long nights and sore throats in the past, but not anymore. Now I can be bold and ask for what I need. Best of all, because I know myself so well, I can really listen. I don’t have to prepare my next argument while the other person is talking. I get to listen and really try to understand where they are coming from. What I have found is that when I practice empathy, it rewards me with a level of knowing someone that does not come any other way. We talk, we bond and the curtain closes on scene two.

Scene three: Thank you. Without the pain I would not know joy. Without the test, I would not study myself. Without you I would not grow. Without you I would never know the magnitude of true love.

It took a while you know. This play used to only have one scene, and after enough years of beating myself up I figured there must be a scene that followed. There had to be more.
And so as all good stories go, this one too, has a happy ending. I’m grateful for the lessons and grateful for the silver lining of this and every other dark cloud that has hovered over me in this lifetime. I am ready for an encore!

His Needs, Her Needs

11 Aug

If you are married or in a committed relationship that could use a little help, I hope that you’ll keep reading. Women are different from men, so different in fact, we’ve even seen books about the two sexes being from different planets. It can feel like it sometimes. While men often wonder why we women over complicate things, we can’t figure out how men can be so simple-minded sometimes. How can everything be black and white? I’ve got a million more questions about how the other sex operates, I bet you do too. While it is fun to sit around with our same-sex peers and wonder at the mystery of the other, most of us would stop criticizing if we just knew what their needs are and how to meet them. If you want to save your relationship, the best thing you can do is learn what your partner’s needs are and meet them. If that is your intention, then I highly recommend the book “His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair Proof Marriage” by Willard F. Harley.

I admit I was turned off a little when I saw the world “affair” in the title. A relationship in trouble doesn’t always include an affair. I think you might be surprised how common they are. The author does an excellent job explaining how even those who never intend to have one can find themselves there. They begin in the simplest ways of someone outside the marriage/relationship meeting the needs of one of the partners. In a nutshell, if you can’t meet your partner’s needs, I promise you there is someone who can and will.

The man’s five most basic needs in a marriage tend to be:
1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
5. Admiration

The woman’s five most basic needs in a marriage tend to be:
1. Affection
2. Conversation
3. Honesty and openness
4. Financial support
5. Family commitment

According to Harley, When partners don’t understand each other’s needs, they try to fulfill the needs that he or she fulfills. A woman will become overly affectionate and a man will make more than usual sexual advances. At best the mate will respond with mild pressure and at worst becomes annoyed, irritated or frigid.

Even worse, if a man is not affectionate (meeting the woman’s need) she is not likely to have sex with him (meeting the man’s need). Once the cycle begins, it can be tough to find your way out. From each partner’s perspective, it clearly appears to be the other partner’s fault.

What I encourage you to do is to rise to the challenge. I understand your needs are not being met, but my guess is, neither are your partner’s. Take the initiative and begin to meet your partner’s needs. Put your hurt feelings aside and see what happens in time when you begin to meet their most basic needs. The commitment to be together is a commitment to meet each other’s needs, for better or for worse. Watch their heart change as you begin to give them what they need. Your heart will soften as well when you realize your needs will be met in kind. You’ll be glad you made the first move.

How You Do Something Is How You Do Everything

22 Jul

I heard this phrase last year at the annual conference for the American Counseling Association. We had invited celebrity and well-known actress Ashley Judd to be the keynote speaker. While I understand she may have some radical political views, I will not be referencing anything of that sort. I only want to share with you a little bit about the powerful messages she so bravely shared with us as she picked through some of her most trying childhood memories and shared her story of recovery.

How you do something is how you do everything. I heard the words and they slowly began to melt over me as if the world were moving in slow motion. I am sure my mouth was wide open as patterns of my life and those I know began to move through my mind. It was as if I’d never heard anything more truthful in my life. Think about the words and how they might apply to you or people you know. When we talk about “doing” we are talking about behavior. Are you always neat and organized and on time and overly structured? Are you a bit messy, frazzled, and always running a bit behind? Would all of your closest friends use the same three words to describe you? Probably, because now I see how true it is, how you do something is how you do everything. Are you a half-asser? Have you ever seen the end of any project? Or do you finish everything you start and give a 110% without a second thought? This is where our labels come from. “Oh, she is such a hard worker!” Or on the flip side, “He’s the laziest guy I know.” Our behavior speaks for us and often represents our character and people begin judging and assuming and lumping us under one big label just to keep it simple. They decide if we’re honest, trustworthy, active, capable, silly, organized, mean, kind, and in general if we are good or bad.

If there were ever a companion phrase that goes along with this one, it would be, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” You guessed it. Because how they do something is how they do everything. I believe in exceptions on occasion, but I rarely chalk things up to random, especially people’s behavior. If you stick around long enough, you will see the patterns. What you thought was random behavior or a one-time fluke can then be filed under “red flag.” You’re next step would be to run in the other direction. Run fast.

I think you’ll find it easy to look around you for patterns of behavior in those closest to you. The harder part will be looking at your own patterns. If you are unable to see it for yourself right away, try to think of things you have heard over the years. What have people said about you? This may be hard because we tend to block out some of the more hurtful comments. If you only heard it once, let it go. If you continue to hear it, then perhaps there is some truth in it.

How you do something is how you do everything. By the time you’re grown, your behavior is fairly predictable and in line with your morals and values. With the exception of chemical imbalances and serious disorders, you are likely presenting yourself to the world in a consistent manner. So… what do people think of you? You don’t know? Find out. There is power in awareness. Become aware of how you are perceived by others. If you don’t like it, change it.