We walk the fence of self-esteem
our faces toward the sun, but never leaping there
It's all we can do to keep our feet on the beam -
avoid the shadow's lair
Welcome to part 3 of Journey to Self -Esteem - The Things People Say.
If you have not read part 1 or part 2 or would like a refresher, click the links below:
Part 1 - Mirror , Mirror on the Wall
Part 2 - Self-Discrimination
I have repeated the explanation of the poem.
If you would like to jump right to the new stuff in part 3, click here.
In each part of this inspiration, I will address one of the many aspects that affect self-esteem.
First I'll explain the untitled poem.
Have you heard the saying, "I'm on the fence about this?"
Being on the fence refers to choosing not to take a side or stance on an issue or opinion. Getting off the fence would require literally standing on the ground on one side of the fence. Figuratively speaking it means to take a stand by expressing an opinion of support for one of two opposite beliefs.
Let's take a look at the first line of the poem.
We walk the fence of self-esteem
To walk the fence of self-esteem is to be non-committal about our self-worth.
If we're on the fence, we don't feel bad about ourselves but we don't feel good about ourselves either.
Let's take a look at the second line of the poem.
Our faces toward the sun, but never leaping there
Have you heard the admonition "Look where you're going!" from someone you've bumped into accidentally because you were looking somewhere other than the direction you were moving.
Likewise, it necessary to look where we want to go in order to set off on the journey to get there.
In the poem, "pointing our faces toward the sun" means setting our intention to take the journey toward high self-esteem. To leap there is an expression of enthusiasm and commitment to the journey. Never to leap there, to continue to walk the fence, is to enslave ourselves to the world of "yes, but...
Let's take a look at the next line of the poem.
It's all we can do to keep our feet on the beam
A therapist once told me that people usually seek therapy because they are in pain. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the most pain imaginable and 10 is happy, many people stay in therapy until they reach a 5 and then quit because they're feeling better. They see the goal of reaching a 10 as either impossible or unnecessary.
"The beam" is the top rail of the fence of self-esteem, and to keep our feet on the beam is to settle for a 5 out of 10.
Let's look at the last line of the poem.
Avoid the shadow's lair.
The shadow's lair is that dark place where painful feelings reside unexamined by the light. I am speaking of feelings such as worthlessness, shame, guilt, incompetence, or insignificance.
Please add any I haven't listed that come from your experience.
If your self-esteem is in the 1 to 4 range, you are in the shadow's lair.
Whether you are in the shadow's lair, on the fence with your face toward the sun, or leaping there, I can help you on your journey.
Have you ever been angry and wouldn't let it go even when the issue seemed to be resolved?
Did you ever ask yourself what was behind your anger?
I don't mean the specific circumstance that sparked your anger.
I'm referring to the belief about yourself at the root of it.
Well I have, quite recently, and what I discovered is the topic of Journey to Self-Esteem Part 3 - The Things People Say
I had been working with a doctor for months to treat insomnia After trying one sleep aid after another to no avail, my doctor enrolled me in a two-week sleep study.
I did not sleep at all the first night and I slept only two hours the following morning. The second night I once again did not sleep a wink followed by three hours sleep the next morning. The third night and morning were the same.
You can imagine the state of my mental and physical health at this point. I was too tired to drive safely, I couldn't focus my eyes well enough to read, and my abilities to reason and focus my attention were severely curtailed. These effects of sleep deprivation are the reason it has taken me two weeks to write this inspiration.
In desperation, I asked my doctor to prescribe a sedative that had previously enabled me to sleep. He refused - said that a pill was not the solution.
" Two or three hours a night is ok," he said. "You're fine."
I passed a fourth sleepless night. By morning, I was livid.
I told my doctor I wanted a different doctor and that I was going to engage a patient advocate to express my dissatisfaction with the treatment I received from him.
In a short time I found a new doctor, so the there was really no point in engaging a patient advocate to get better medical treatment from my old doctor, but I wasn't satisfied.
I was angry, and I wanted to stay angry. I wanted my old doctor to be reprimanded. I wanted another doctor to state for the record my old doctor was actually harming me by refusing to prescribe a sedative.
Now, I am rarely angry, and even more rarely cling to anger when the object of my anger is no longer in my life.
My natural curiosity led me to wonder why I was holding on to the anger toward my old doctor. It wasn't to get different medical care - there was something more behind it.
One of the great benefits of coaching is that you can learn to coach yourself. Thanks to the great coaching I received from my life coach, I was able to do just that.
I recognized that my anger was fueled by level 2 energy.
My core thought was conflict, my core emotion was anger, and the result was defiance.
I was in a win/lose, right/wrong mindset.
If he doesn't give me a sedative, he wins, and I lose.
If he isn't reprimanded for refusing to prescribe a sedative, he's right, and I'm wrong.
I must win and I must be right!
If you would like to read more about level 2 energy, click the links below to my blogs on this subject:
I've Seen The World From Both Sides Now
Sharing Tree Part 1
I asked myself questions I would ask a client:
What does being right mean to me?
Answer: Being right means my point of view is valid
What does being wrong mean to me?
Answer: Being wrong means that my point of view is invalid.
What does winning mean to me?
Answer: Winning means getting my needs met because they are valid (right). For example, I would win if my old doctor prescribed the sedative because I convinced him that my need for 8 hours sleep per night is valid.
I would also win If another doctor supported my claim that I need 8 hours per night and should be given a sedative to ensure this need was met.
What does losing mean to me?
Answer: Losing means not getting my needs met because they are invalid (wrong). For example, when my doctor said that I was fine and that 3 hours of sleep per night was ok, this meant that my need for 8 hours sleep per night was invalid (wrong).
Likewise, if another doctor agreed with my old doctor, I would lose.
If I were speaking with a client, I would say, "Talk more about that."
Sleep deprivation has been a trigger for me my whole life
When I left the corporate world, the first thing I did was turn off the alarms on my clock radio. I slept until I was rested everyday. I was thrilled to be able to put sleep first without risking that another important need would not be met as a consequence.
Now I feel I have to fight to meet my need for sleep. All the solutions available to me no longer work, and the solution that has worked, the sedative, is not available to me.
This situation took me back to all the times when I had to sacrifice sleep to fulfill a duty or meet another's expectation.
I once again heard the message that my needs are invalid - not worthy of attention.
I couldn't tell you where I was on the self-esteem scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is "I am worthless," and 10 is "I am awesome," because I was waiting for someone else to tell me what to think.
When my old doctor denied my claim that I need 8 hours of sleep per night, I was at about a 2 on the self-esteem scale. When I thought about a new doctor supporting my point of view, I was at a 9.
When I thought of my old doctor being reprimanded for poor treatment of me, I was at a 10.
"Hmm...," I thought. "Things people say strongly impact my self-esteem - especially things people in positions of authority say, and especially about aspects of myself I have been insecure about all my life."
It's time for me to decide what to think of myself independent of what others say. I don't need to defer to others' opinions to decide what to think of myself, and I don't need others' opinions to support my self-esteem.
I like support and affirmation. Who doesn't?
But, I know who I am and what I'm worth because I'm the expert on me.
Let me get on that scale again - 10!
As always, I love to hear your thoughts!
Want to continue the journey? Read Part 4 - Silencing the Gremlin
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Joyce Collins is a life coach who specializes in helping women who were sexually abused as a child to transform themselves into confident women who love themselves and lead fulfilling lives.