I was combing my hair with the aid of my hallway mirror, thinking how good life was. When there was a knock on my front door. It was Frank, a friend of mine, looking very somber.
“What’s wrong, my friend, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I think I have, in my mirror. I dislike the person I see in my mirror!”
“Oh no, you’ve got a big self-esteem problem, then!” I said.
“Self-esteem? What exactly is that?”
“It is a realistic and positive opinion of yourself. In other words, you like yourself.”
“Well, as I was looking at my face in the mirror, my wife comes up behind me and says:
“You’ve got a peculiar nose, Frank.”
“So, I start noticing my nose and some other blemishes, all the time devaluing myself!”
“Hold on now, your self-talk is getting distorted.”
Frank looked quizzical.
“The other day my boss passed me in the office and scowled at me. I just know he’s upset with me for some reason. I probably won’t get the promotion I put in for.”
“You are assuming the worst again.”
“I’m not a good enough person for the job.”
“Those are the WRONG thoughts to have. You should never downgrade your “CORE WORTH”. Judge your skills and if they don’t come up to scratch, work to improve them.”
“I’d like to have more self-worth feelings, but I don’t deserve them!”
“Now, you’re talking silly.”
“I feel I’m not worthy of a good life. Life always hands me the fuzzy end of the lollypop.”
I shook my head in dismay.
“I always say, “I must be happy. I should be happy.” I keep putting demands on myself!”
“My friend, Frank, our lives are full of “shoulds and musts”, but this is distorted thinking.”
Frank just stared at me.
“The word “should” denotes you are not happy, so you feel inadequate and frustrated. Replace “should” with would or could or want to.”
“You mean: It would be nice to be happy. I could be happy. I want to be happy.”
“That’s right, you’re getting the hang of it now.”
“Maybe I should tell myself how wonderful I am, in the hope of becoming wonderful in many pursuits.”
“No, self-esteem is NOT about over-the-top positive thinking.”
Poor Frank, he looked completely confused.
“Why doesn’t OTT positive thinking work?”
“Because, that type of thinking is immature, stressful and isn’t grounded in reality. People with good self-esteem have no need to inflate themselves. They realize their strengths and weaknesses and work to overcome the weak points.”
Frank got up and walked over to the hall mirror and peered into it, ever so tentatively.
“Okay, Frank, take a long look at yourself, look deep into your eyes and you will see the goodness of your “CORE WORTH”. Look at yourself with “like” not “dislike”. Look deeply and you will notice a change in your eyes, they will become softer and not so glazed. Look in the mirror and smile, you’re a good person!”
“I do feel better than I did when I came in,” he smiled.
As Frank was walking out the door, I said:
“One last thought, remember, if life hands you lemons, break out the TEQUILA!”