Self-esteem is a curious thing. On the surface it seems to just be about how we think about ourselves. It may appear to be about body image, accepting our flaws and loving ourselves… feeling beautiful no matter what.
Self-esteem goes deeper than that or more accurately, the lack of self-esteem. When we don’t value ourselves, when we don’t have the self-worth that we need, we tend to seek it from outside sources. This is known as external validation.
One reason that I so, wholeheartedly, believe in self-validation, self-acceptance, and self-love is because there will be people that will deliberately try to invalidate you and shake you to your core… or those that are more than willing to provide that external validation in exchange for, essentially, our souls.
If you don’t have a strong sense of self-worth and a strong internal compass, they can easily take you off course.
Not knowing our worth, and looking to others for an appraisal, places us in a position of powerlessness. Allowing someone or something else to have that type of power can be incredibly destructive.
When we are seeking validation (whether intentional or not), we are essentially asking another to substantiate, prove, or authenticate who we are. We are, unknowingly asking, do I have worth?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
What if I’m not the Superhero? What if I’m the bad guy?” Edward Cullen.Twilight.
They go by various names and descriptions, such as narcissists, sociopaths and even narcopaths. They appear to be charming, confident and are capable of sweeping their victims off their feet, in a whirlwind of love, acceptance and understanding.
Eventually, the whirlwind becomes a tornado and the victim, which once felt this amazing electricity is now being electrocuted.
Another thing that they all have in common is the ability to pick up on our lack of self-worth and to exploit that knowledge for their own purposes. The process can be slow, methodical and thorough.
This type of victimization further erodes the worth of the individual experiencing it. The “prey” begins to value them, while their own sense of self-value is systematically dismantled. This deconstruction allows the “wolf” to reconstruct their new project.
As time goes on, these women and men then attract more people into their lives that are predatory in nature.
These predators know what to look for and how to exploit it. The low self-esteem, need for validation, need for acceptance, need for love and the willingness to endure just about anything to obtain and sustain it, attracts them like moths to a flame. These predators know what to look for and how to exploit it.
It is easy to look online and find out all the various characteristics of one of these predatory individuals; however, from a health coach perspective, I am more concerned with the characteristics of the victimized, especially from the standpoint of self-esteem and how it affects the various aspects of our health.
My Own Struggle
Growing up, my self-esteem took many hits. I was teased for a variety of things and high school, was particularly vicious. The pain from these years would ultimately shape my view of myself and my choices. I had an impaired sense of self and thereby, an impaired self-worth.
Most of us are familiar with drunk/impaired driving. I was living impaired…mentally and emotionally stumbling from place to place.
So often, how we perceive ourselves is based on how others see us. We have an inherent need to be in community with others…to be liked, validated, accepted and loved. It is how we are constructed, as humans.
Unfortunately, these needs, if not met in the proper ways, can lead us down destructive paths.
How we choose to fulfill them, in our attempts to feel fulfilled and complete, can bring chaos into our lives.
In futile efforts to be liked, I lost myself, which made me a prime candidate to be shaped by another. Not loved, not respected, not truly accepted; shaped and sculpted like a woodcarver creating a toy.
When we don’t love and value ourselves, it becomes difficult to love and accept love from others. It also becomes increasingly difficult to attract authentically loving and healthy people into our lives.
When our worth is obtained from acceptance BY someone else, rather than self-acceptance, we are on a slippery slope.
Q: What happens when their acceptance and validation are withdrawn?
A: The opportunity to go within, discover your core values, uncover your self worth and develop ways to love yourself first.
Is there hope? Yes, of course. Being able to take a deep dive within our own souls and psyches is adifficult but necessary process in freeing ourselves from the shackles of low self-worth and victimization by others.
The important thing is to be honest with yourself. Acknowledge those areas, deep within, that have presented problems in the past and need to be healed.
Ask a trusted friend if they can give you insight that you can’t seem to be able to give yourself. Sometimes others are capable of seeing things that we cannot see or don’t want to accept.
Start a journal or continue one (if you already have it) and write down, reflect on and respond to the following:
This may be difficult for some, but freeing ourselves from shackles, cages and strongholds will never be an easy task. How strong is your conviction that you are worth saving?
Stay tuned for my next article which will address how a compromised and impaired sense of self can negatively impact our health.
Originally published at https://charbdollfitness.com.