Or, How is Our Self-Worth Like a Bug?
When I was in therapy back in graduate school I had panic attacks. My therapist said I was susceptible to anxiety because I wore my ego on the outside where it was too vulnerable. She said if you look at evolution the creatures on the low end of the food chain wear their skeletons on the outside and the inside was all mushy. Beatles are like that. The slightest thing could crush them. If the exoskeleton was cracked that is the end of them.
More advanced, evolved animals have their skeleton on the inside and their mushy bits are on the outside. If the mushy bits were hurt (as a rule) they may be battered and bruised but they could still stay upright and strong because our core, our bones, are on the inside.
We want our self-esteem to be more evolved.
When our confidence is anchored in ourselves rather than outside us, we are more stable and more resilient. For example, many of us are people pleasers. We tend to measure our self worth way too much on others’ view of us, instead of what we think about ourselves. That’s not to say other people’s opinion isn’t important. It just ought to be less important than our own belief in ourselves. It means that if they turn away from us, it may hurt, but we can still stand and stay strong. That’s real power.
How do we get our self-esteem skeleton on the inside where it belongs?
Start with some very simple, basic exercises:
- Raise your awareness of who that harsh critic is in your life. Whether in the form of another person or a critical voice in your head. Distiguish between that voice and the True You. You are kind, good and tougher than you think. You just need to raise the volume on your True Voice and tell that other nasty voice to bug off!
- Remember who You really are. List all your best attributes. Re-affirming who you truly are (instead of what others say you are) is a lot harder than it sounds but it works!
- Play a little defense. Say No. Start small. Turn down an invitation to join a committee when you already have too much on your plate. Say no thank you. Repeat as needed.
When we are born with thin skin it’s especially important to remember our inner strengths and practice them every day.