ACoAs & SELF-ESTEEM – what it IS NOT

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Not me-e-e, girl

PREVIOUS: Recovery – IS & is NOT (#2)

SITE: Want more self-esteem? (links)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


IN IT’S SIMPLEST FORM, the opposite of self-hate is self-esteem. Since our Western culture is based a great deal on outer appearance, most people think that if you look & sound good, you must:
• have come from a nice, happy family background
• be happy, healthy & have good self-esteem (S.E.)

ACoAs believe that in spades, but neither one is proof that we’re ok. We assume that anyone who has OR seems to have personal qualities & a life style that we don’t (a variety of relationships, making $$, an education, travel…) – must have a positive sense of identity. Actually, there’s a big difference between true self-esteem & the facade of it.
☛ Various defense mechanisms can mimic it, especially narcissism.

Self Esteem is NOT….
1. …. acting entitled, superior, arrogant, pushy
superior• anyone who acts this way is covering up feeling scared & insecure, even though they may not be consciously aware of it.  Acting entitled is narcissistic – they believe only they have rights!

2. …. always being right – having all the answers, needing to prove what we know
• ‘know-it-alls’ use their info as a battering ram or as a shield – either way it comes from insecurity. It’s a defense – they have to keep the facade of being better than they feel inside.  It’s also a way to keep emotions at bay – focusing on facts rather than emotions

3.. based solely on activities or accomplishments
• there are people who are famous, rich, powerful – but we know from their bios that many are active addicts, spouse abusers & sometimes murderers, have relationships full of drama or can’t commit at all

4. …. being ‘cool’ – repressing emotions, being in control, not needing others, being mysterious, above it all
attitude 2• it is actually being cut off from most or all their emotions, numb, hard, angry – keeping them disconnected from others. AND scared underneath : fear of failure, of abandonment, of being trapped & suffocated emotionally….


5. …. being perfect – the ‘good’ one, the Hero, Ms or Mr Popular
• while there is social acceptability in this persona, it is usually based in the co-dependent need to be approved of, to be mirrored by th
e admiration of others, rather than having a clear internal sense of self. Without this constant reinforcement, the person is depressed & at sea.

6. …. being powerful – lording it over others, being controlling
• the need to use personal or social power to make others submissive or compliant is both narcissistic & cruel – whether done by a CEO or a mother. All forms of controlling is based in fear, which the person is usually not aware of, or knows but is not willing to acknowledge

7. …. being a super-helper – rescuer, martyr, people-pleaser
super doer• being ‘wonderful’ to everyone, long-suffering, over-tolerant, over-doing… comes from LOW S.E. & FoA. Without Recovery, sooner or later, they may have some type of physical collapse &/or live with chronic depression

8. …. being superhuman – highly accomplished, chasing the impossible, being the best of the

• achieving big things may or may not benefit humanity. What’s important here is MOTIVATION. If the desire to compulsion to succeed is compulsive, then it’s driven by anxiety, not S.E. – from fear of failure, fear of being found out as a fraud, fear of poverty, fear of being powerless, fear of being controlled….

 9. …. doing whatever we want – needing instant ‘grat’, having transient relationships, running away, ignoring others
• this is immaturity, run by the WIC – by fear, weak boundaries, narcissism, irresponsibility

10. …. having lots of relationships, but superficially, with people who are:
• needy & insecure or narcissistic, are users, have the same social interests, like being paid attention to or rescued, want to be around fame & power…
NOTE : having ‘friends’ by itself does not automatically imply S.E. It depends on the quality, depth & mental health of the relationships

Part 2: What Self-Esteem IS

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