Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who defines your self-image?

Who defines your self-image?

Now, if you spend every moment of every day without any self-doubt, self-recrimination or poor self-esteem, move on, I don't particularly want your commentary on this ... you won't fit in.

I am a relatively self-confident person.  I'm certain that much of that comes from the way I grew up, knowing that my parents believed in me, loved me, protected me, encouraged me, taught me and generally surrounded me with enough support and strength to kick me into the world on my own.

On the other hand, I can tear myself apart in a heartbeat and then find myself weeping and sobbing over my lack of self-worth.  It really doesn't take all that much to remind me of what a failure I am, how I've screwed up badly and how easy it would be for me to just fade away from the world without anyone paying too much attention.

Now, stop ... you don't have to try to fix me ... I know that isn't necessarily all true, so it's ok.  Just keep reading.  I'm only using myself as an example.

It is quite easy for us to swing back and forth on that pendulum of self-respect / self-recrimination. Even those of us who live our lives with a lot of confidence easily find ourselves questioning the very core of our personality. That's probably a good thing sometimes.  Because with every question we ask, we cause ourselves to redefine why we are the way that we are.  If we come out at the end assured that we're ok, fabulous.  If not, and we have to adjust, that's fabulous, too!

But, who is it that forces us to question ourselves and possibly redefine ourselves?  Is it someone that has our best interests at heart?  What are the motives behind the questions? Are they filled with love and grace or jealousy and their own agenda?

In my lifetime, I've given a lot of different people permission to define me.  I've had bosses that make me question my motives and the depth of my personality.  Boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, even sometimes complete strangers have received permission from me to make me question myself.

Sometimes that permission has been handled with grace and love, but not often, because we are all dealing with people that have their own agendas.  There are very few people in our lives that sacrificially love us, to the extent that they will help us question ourselves, allow us to fall apart and then turn around and help put us back together again.

Others simply force us to question ourselves, watch as our self-confidence erodes, then watch as we fade away.  Those people aren't trustworthy and we have to quickly discover that they will never do more than that for us.

The rest probably don't do much in our lives in the way of helping us define our relationship with the world.  They move in and out of our lives at a surface level, not expecting much, not offering much, but sometimes tossing out a question that forces us to step back and ask if we really are worth it.  Before we realize that they hit us with something tough, they're gone again and don't make any attempt to cushion the blow.  Not terribly trustworthy, but probably not close enough to us to even realize that they had an impact.

As you try to find your way through the world, who is it that you allow to help you redefine yourself; who have you given permission to question your motives whether they handle you with grace or not and what are you going to do about withdrawing that permission?

Who do you help and how do you help them?

What are our roles in the relationships that we have.  How do we hide from others and how do we expose ourselves to others?  Are you trustworthy or are you selfish?

All of these questions ... who are you in your relationships ... who are those other people in your relationships?

And for heaven's sake, where's the ice cream?

1 comment:

Fran said...

umm, know the ice cream is always at my house!

Great post Diane, thanks for the reminder that our actions do affect how others feel about us and themselves.