ACoAs & SELF-ESTEEM – what it IS

self-evealuation 

I KNOW WHO I AM
– & I approve!

PREVIOUS: What Self-Esteem is NOT

 

 

 

Self-Esteem IS:
1. Knowing Ourselves well (with + & – characteristics) – accepting & genuinely enjoying who we are, without denial or arrogance
** Some years after both her parents had died, one woman said about herself: “It’s sad that they missed out on experiencing the wonderful person their child has matured into, & would have been from the start, without the damage.”

2. Knowing that all our Emotions (Es) are legitimate, valid & a part of the complete personality.  Es are neither positive or negative – which is a value judgment. Implication: If it’s negative it should be gotten rid of. WRONG! ALL emotions are part of being human AND are valuable, because they tell us what’s right or wrong for US!

3. Knowing that all our Needs are normal & acceptable. Understanding that not all of them will be met, all of the time. That some will take longer than others to achieve, & that some which we didn’t get in childhood may never be fully realized.  But the more we reach for, the more we’ll get. mistakes

4. Being OK with being Human – knowing what our limits & limitations are, realistically. That to be human will always mean making mistakes, not knowing some things, being imperfect, having weaknesses – as well as having the gifts of abilities & talents, which we can hone & enjoy

5. Accepting that no matter how ‘Good or Spiritual’ we are, life can still be unfair, bad things can happen to us, other people will sometimes mess us up… but that does not mean it’s personal or that we’re not trying hard enough.  Having S.E. means we have a right to be here – on the planet – & that our H.P. wants the best for us

6. Being willing & able to take Responsibility for ourselves (all our T.E.A.s) without guilt, shame, fear of punishment or of being abandoned (FoA). We’re able to be our own motivator, rather that using others to give us permission to be or act.  We can protect ourselves from other people’s damage, but own all our reactions, especially to upsetting eventsbalance Es

7. Being able to live in Balance between extremes, most of the time (minimizing drama / trauma). Being peaceful does not mean standing still.  Being calm is not the same as being bored.  Living between +5 & -5 is the best for us, rather than too high or too low (-25 or +25). Part of S.E. is knowing how to think accurately, which lowers anxiety

8. Accepting that Process is part of all accomplishments & personal growth. Delays do not mean failure or being abandoned (never reaching a goal). Process takes time & with S.E. we know we can do a great deal.  When we fail, we have the ability to learn from mistakes, improve ourselves & keep reaching for our goals

9. Always looking for new things to learn & explore, curious about ourselves, other people, including all the newest developments & difficulties in world.
We can take the time to research topics we don’t know about, especially relating to problems that come up with ourselves or family. As we age – our brain stays functional longer IF we include something new / different every so often

10. Being able to freely Express ourselves artistically, using all our talents, knowledge & special gifts. S.E. allows us to pursue our dreams, no matter where they lead us. We don’t have to be perfect, so we’re not afraid to share those talents with othersrelax

11. Being able to Relax, Enjoy, have fun, take time off, rest, ‘veg’ – on a regular basis.  These are necessary to increase ‘good’ chemicals in the brain, which elevate mood. It also give us time to process our daily experiences on internal conscious & sub-conscious levels & to heal from past wounds. We have a right to healthy pleasure!

NEXT: RECOVERY – Is & is NOT (Part 1)

WHAT is SHAME? (Part 1)


THE BAD SEED
I was born bad & I’ll always be bad

PREVIOUS: What is Guilt?

 

While guilt is mainly about negative actions,
SHAME is about our IDENTITY – about who we are, fundamentally.

🔹 It tells us that our very essence is bad, unlovable, unacceptable – to be eliminated. It makes us:
• want to hide, isolate, not talk, try to be invisible
• want to be dead! The pain of shame is so great & the conviction that we’re un-redeemable is so deep (not worth saving), that it eliminates Hope. Why bother even trying!
• OR we overcompensate – by acting superior, controlling, out-doing, knowing ‘everything’, never showing ‘weakness’ (grandiosity), shaming others…..

SHAME is connected to our NEEDs, rather than actions – specifically – each need we had as a child which was neglected, punished & made fun of.
Consider how many needs children have, & how many of them were met with abuse or not at all – you can imagine how huge our shame quotient is !!

BTW, most of us focus on the need for love, & while it is crucial, the need for safety is even more basic! We can’t begin to take in love, even when it’s available, if we’re terrified.

IN CHILDHOOD:
a. Being Ashamed – Children admire, even idealize their parents when they’re quite small. They need to do this to feel safe – to know they can rely on those people to be competent & available to them. It helps to compensate for the child’s extreme dependence & vulnerability.
✶ In reasonably healthy families, children gradually come to understand that their parents are human, fallible, imperfect – BUT still basically trustworthy & decent role models.

● But in dysfunctional families, one or more the adults act out their damage:
addictions, bitterness, constant criticism, cruelty, emotional withdrawal, depression, leaving & then never staying in touch, mental illness, neglect, not providing necessities, not staying groomed, not earning a living, putting each other & the kids in danger, verbal physical &/or sexual abuse ….

All of these & more, make children feel ashamed of their family (the chaos, the craziness, the cruelty) – & by extension themselves, as members of that group.
A sense of pride in themselves & their parents is eroded & shattered. This is devastating. That feeling is then carried, like a canker sore in our spirit, into adulthood.

b. Being Shamed – Children in damaged families are:
▪︎ teased & made fun of for many thing  (anger disguised with toxic humor)
▪︎ yelled at, attacked, harangued – often for nothing specific or obvious
▪︎ expected to know or do the impossible
▪︎ punished, yelled at, hit, humiliated – in public
▪︎ insulted about ones gender, looks, tastes, interests..
▪︎ pushed to do things when too young & then punished for ‘failing’
▪︎ treated unfairly, abused & then punished for crying, being upset or getting angry at the mistreatment

These & many other ways of shaming have been called soul murder. It represents parents’ lack of love & respect for themselves & so for their children, who stand in for their own Inner Child. Their dysfunctions negate / abuse the needs that all children have.
EXP: be paid attention to & heard, treated with respect, feel safe & loved, grow & learn at their own pace, find out who they are as individuals, know they can depend on their caretakers, look up to their parents, to LIVE, prosper & succeed….

EACH of these NEEDS became SHAMEFUL !
We conclude that if the adults hated these needs, then they’re bad (& us for still having them). So they must be suppressed, better yet – eliminated, no matter how deep & persistent they may be.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.28.55 PMEXP: After hearing the 4th Step in Al-Anon (“Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves’), one member suddenly realized: ☁︎ his #1 toxic rule was: “I should be dead !”
☁︎ most shamed need was for love. “ I thought that was my greatest character defect!
After all, the constant message was that I wasn’t lovable  – so I must be a fool to keep wanting it – which I do, desperately!”

In Recovery he learned that this & all his needs were legitimate, universal & his RIGHT, & so he was able to reject the need to die, & start loving himself.
(The 12-Steps – comments & videos)

NEXT: Shame (Part 2)

RESCUING – False Helping (Part 1)

false self 

I KNOW WHAT YOU NEED!
I can take care of you, but not myself

 

REMINDER: Use ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 

ENABLING is another term for co-dependent rescuing of others, in place of taking care of ourselves.
In Al-Anon terms, it’s our compulsion to save the alcoholic or any other kind of addict from the consequences of their own self-destructive behavior (debting, drugs, exercise, gambling, food, sex, under-earning….)
A person who is acting out self-destructively has no reason to change if they’re never forced to experience the outcome of their compulsion. If they don’t have to pay any price for their behavior, they’re enabled to continue practicing their addiction.
“Helping someone continue being self-destructive is co-dependency – not supportive & not Loving.”

In more general terms, it’s any form of helping someone not take care of themselves when they really can. It may be —
— in the form of not doing or saying anything when we see others hurting themselves, OR
— actively providing the means for them to continue being irresponsible (directly or indirectly) to themselves, their loved ones, their job….

EXP: Lying for others / making excuses when someone shirks their responsibility, is selfish or mean / clean up after a user / cover the addict’s bills / never stand up for ourselves or object to abuse / never notice or point out lies, inconsistencies, broken promises…..

ACoAs IRONY: Enabling / Rescuing is in itself an addiction (emotional, psychological), a compulsive pattern of interacting with others. On the surface it gives us a sense of control & superiority. Underneath, the real motivation is to suppress our own abandonment anxiety.

ORIGIN: Growing up in dysfunctional families, ACoAs were not allowed to fully develop their own personality & identity, attend to their own needs, or have their own feelings – about anything. We had no choice but to focus on our wounded parents & their needs, Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.52.17 PMmoods & demands: (see ‘Toxic rules’)

• We were expected to grow up too fast, not have normal child needs) –  but only so we could relieve them of the burden of caring for us and so we could be there for them
• AND, any attention to our own tastes, opinions, & way of doing things was considered selfish, stubborn, overly sensitive, stupid and bad!  (I was taught: S.P.S. – ‘Self Praise Stinks’ !!)

Result: ACoAs developed a ‘false persona’, one version being The Rescuer:
a. for many of us, this is a very active role – doing, doing, doing for others OR using others to motive our actions
b. for some ACoAs, who seem to do nothing for others – this role is passive. It’s ‘taking care of’ the family by asking for very little, not trying for anything, not risking, not being a bother… obeying “Don’t Need”, one of the Toxic Rules
➼ The unspoken hope is that if we do a good enough job of rescuing (fixing them), they will, in turn, be able to take care of us.  THIS NEVER WORKS.

IN ADULTHOOD
DEF:  A way to seem like we’re helping others BUT with hidden motives
a. from our grandiosity
🔸 Doing for others what they CAN & SHOULD be doing for themselves
🔸 Being ‘one up’, giving the illusion of being powerful and benevolent, at the same time
🔸 Assuming others n-e-e-d us (a not-always conscious belief that they’ll fall apart or even die – without us – based on our family experience)
🔸Assuming we know better what others need / want / should have, or not
🔸 Wanting to spare someone pain – by preventininsecureg them from having to take responsibility for /  consequences of – their own actions, & so preventing their growth!

b. from our inferiority
🔹 Using others to feel better about ourselves (to cover our self-hate, that feeling of worthlessness)
🔹 Trying to ‘fix’ a wounded person, so they can be there for us
🔹 Trying to have an effect on the world, since no one listened to us as kids
🔹 Wanting to use our talents, skills & abilities – but not allowed to use them for our own benefit
🔹Minding other people’s business rather than our own (not allowed to focus on ourselves)

NEXT: Rescuing = False Helping  (Part 2)