By Shoshana Rosa
I have a friend, Debbie, who wears her low self esteem like a moldy old blanket, comfortable but so bad for her respiratory system. If someone had asked her what her daily affirmations were, she'd probably have wheezed all over him. Her personal complex is so deeply ingrained that telling herself she's the best thing that happened since Trump became president would seem like an exercise in futility.
How many of us look at life through the lens of poor self worth? And what methods do we stoop to in order to cope with that mess?
One of my friends (ok, I lied, I'm talking about myself) deals with her low self esteem by keeping herself small in other people's eyes. If they have no expectations, or very few, it keeps the pressure of fear of rejection at bay.
From the age of thirteen, I've lived with an overwhelming sense of my own inadequacies. Everywhere I looked reflected the hopelessness that was me. Thoughts like, "You're worthless," or "If you died, it would take three days before people noticed, and that would only be because of the stench," or, "You will never find true love," were just a few of the lovely comments that waltzed their merry way through my brain, wreaking holy havoc as they went.
I didn't have to be going through personal crisis to dig myself six feet under either. A friend of mine could be opening up to me about something or another, like some recent altercation she'd been through with her mother, and all of a sudden I'd be carried off on a wave of, "I couldn't deal with this if I was her. Oh my gosh, I can't deal with anything. I am such a washout."
These thoughts were often followed by a sudden craving to go to sleep. Or, inhale a bucket of ice cream.
Let me just tell you, people who carry around this ball and chain don't do it for kicks.
And yet, we hold onto it for dear lives.
Why is that?
What drives us to manufacture our own personal brands of misery? And why the heck would any of us choose to be dopy with melancholy when they could be loopy off ecstasy?
Because reactive thinking is almost never based in common sense.
Have you ever tried taking a three year old away from his musty, faded, ratty old yet tried and true security blanket. And then expected him to take it like a man?
I hope not.
I remember a time period when anyone who tried to talk me into thinking differently about my current circumstances drove me into a total panic. Lock me in a closet for three days, cut my legs off, freeze my bank accounts and take away my assets but for the love of all that is holy, please do not try to talk me out of my inner negative beliefs.
It was too scary.
To keep my panic levels down, I came up with a method that would ensure low expectations from everyone I came into contact with. I did this by punctuating every conversation with "I'm not actually so good at this," or "You know, my third grade teacher once called me a nebach (loser) in front of all my classmates," or "My mother used to tell me, 'When you're eighteen, you're out the house.' to which I'd reply, 'Good, eighteen couldn't come soon enough. So, what was your mother like?"
Once I'd ascertained that my friend, or coworker, was squirming because of me and not a sudden drop in the air temperature, I steered the conversation toward sunnier subjects. After all, mission accomplished. The gauntlet was thrown and I could trust this person to never ever rely on me for anything.
So, like my friend Debbie, I'd scoff at anyone who mentioned the word affirmations. That band aid ain't gonna make no headway with this fractured heart. No way. Uh uh. A transplant, maybe, but a band aid? That's just insulting.
And yet, in a world full of people living lives of quiet desperation, daily affirmations has become a fairly popular phenomenon.
Which is so strange.
Does it really do something for people to repeatedly tell themselves, "I'm awesome," between fifty to five hundred times every day?
That just sounds ridiculous. A complete waste of time.