If you don’t feel good about yourself, you have to fix it. There’s no other way around it. You can’t raise confident kids, have a healthy relationship, or get satisfaction from your job if you don’t. This comes from someone who didn’t, for most of her life, feel worthwhile. Many books come from the perspective of an expert, someone who already has a healthy sense of self-worth, which I believe immediately sets up an alienating perspective between them and us, those who “know” and the rest of us who struggle with this issue. They assume they know better. They may think they know better, and have a worthwhile plan, but we know what it is really like, we have experienced and not just judged our self-defeating behavior.
We all have varying degrees of self-doubt. A person can be wildly successful in their life, and still have deep-seated feelings of worthlessness. There is a fear of discovery that others will come to see what’s behind the curtain in Oz. So we strive to accomplish more and more, climb to greater heights, yet it’s never enough. You may try to hide it, this low sense of self-worth, but like the alcoholic who wants to keep his drinking a secret, but staggers nonetheless, it is a visible illness. To continue the analogy, I want to be sober. In this case sobriety equals integrity and confidence.
Here is where to begin. It’s the Victim Thing. The most tragic or toxic aspect of victim hood is that victims don’t know they are playing the part of the victim. They see all around them evidence of betrayal, duplicity, and injustice so their victim status is validated and for the most part goes unquestioned. This is why I say, be careful, or the discovery that you have been wronged may be the last discovery you make. We all have injustice and dysfunction in our lives. We have to come to understand that these are just events that come and go. Again, It’s not the circumstances that define us; it’s how we react to them.
Some of us could and do spend many hours, years, in therapy or in our rooms trying to figure out how we got to be this way, but—this is essential—none of it matters. It truly doesn’t matter how we got to be damaged goods, or rather, it may matter to you, but it is not the solution; it is simply part of a very long and complicated story. You may very well know how and when you got to this point, but leave the blame for now and ask instead what comes nex?
Life is about choices. I can feel trapped in my life, but I can choose to begin writing this. I can choose to eat a healthy meal. I can choose to go for a walk. I can choose how to respond to my significant other. Every conscious choice I make brings me that much closer to the integrity I seek, or makes it less likely. The consequence of choosing is to remove myself from the victim role. Victims don’t create their lives; they react to them.
Acceptance is central to the process of coming out from under our victimhood. I would say that it is one of the basic tenets of all spiritual traditions, one that we can use in our everyday life, in the mundane and tragic circumstances within which we find ourselves. Like making conscious choices instead of reacting, it takes practice. I am stuck in traffic. I have lost my job. I am sick. One alternative is protest, anger, and bitterness. A person with low self-worth takes these things personally. A person with integrity and confidence accepts and adapts.
The key question in any adverse circumstance is, “What do I do now and next?” Sometimes all you can do is breathe deeply. Other times you can take definitive action, but again, you are making conscious choices instead of reacting, you are accepting your circumstances. Everything changes. This applies to the good situations as well as to the negative. That is why the phrase, “This too shall pass,” is so powerful. Peace of mind comes from accepting yourself, your life, wherever you happen to be at any given time.
Acceptance is the bottom line. Good choices grow from acceptance. There will always be someone better or worse off than we are. Good and bad things happen to us and to others and can happen at any time. Our life may have been difficult or a breeze. Who’s to say? You are. I am. To say that something is unfair is to return to the victim mode. Don’t live a life of protest. You’ll miss so much of what is given. Think of the world and it’s mysterious ways as an impersonal agency, so there is nothing served by anger and resistance. We only succeed in restricting ourselves further. We are worthwhile in our own shoes, where we stand. Practicing and believing this is so brings the part of ourselves that we love to the surface, and then the way gets easier and clearer.
About the Author:
This is a condensed excerpt from Colette Kelso's book, Who's a Loser? Read the book to find a way out of a difficult situation. If you're in the job market, visit I need a job. You need a job?