Sunday, September 09, 2007

I Need to Learn to Like Me ...

I've been reading the book Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate, a doctor who not only treats people with ADD, but himself is an ADD parent of three sons who live with ADD. It is a book that I am finding endlessly fascinating to read. There is no adequate way to describe how I feel about this book. I can't say I'm enjoying it, but I am deeply thankful for the recommendation that lead me to this volume.

Many of Mate's words resonate within me and offer breathless moments where I stand in the realization that some of my actions are explainable by ADD ... too often his text describes EXACTLY what is happening within me ... They are "WOW" moments that have brought tears to my eyes as I begin to see with some clarity the journey I've trod and the challenges I've faced and the conflicts I've endured.

This is not to dub me blameless, and to say - "It's the ADD ..." but rather, it allows me to understand WHY? some of these things that have happened ...

Last night I read the chapter on Self Esteem and ADD and found Mate's words cutting a little TOO CLOSE TO HOME:

What are the markers of low self-esteem, besides a consciously harsh self-judgement? As mentioned above, an inflated grandiose view of oneself ... Craving the good opinions of others. Frustration with failure. A tendency to blame oneself excessively when things go wrong, or on the other hand, an insistence on blaming others: in other words the propensity to blame someone. ... Argumentativeness - having to be in the right, or obversely, assuming that one is always in the wrong. ... Allowing the judgement of other to influence one's emotions or, its mirror opposite, rigidly rejecting what other may have to say about one's work or behaviour. Other traits of low self-esteem are an overwrought sense of responsibility for other people in relationship and, as we will discuss shortly, an inability to say NO. The need to achieve in order to feel good about oneself. (Scattered Minds - Page 238)

Mate goes on to further discuss the issue of low self-esteem and ADD ... on one hand it is frightening to read words that so closely match what you feel deep within yourself in the dark corners where you sometimes fear to tread ... but then on the other hand, those words shed light in those dank, dark corners and allow one to own and deal with the issue that we have long hidden away and hoped that it would simply go away.

So, today as I read Mate's words a third then a fourth time, I made a commitment that I need to begin to like myself more ... I need to address the issue of low self-esteem. Not by arrogantly saying - "I like myself ... I am good enough ..." but by looking with intention in the mirror that is before me, and taking an inventory of who I am, what I am and all aspects of my character (both good and bad), and making the conscious decision to move FORWARD on a new path ... a path where I like myself better ... it will NOT be an easy journey ... but it is one I need to tread, carefully, thoughtfully, reflectively and openly ...

To assist on the way are some further observations that Mate makes in his book about the world a person living with ADD and low self-esteem occupied. They are words that speak a profound truth about that deep, dark corner of my being that is suddenly being illuminated.

Mate observes:

- the frenetic pace of the workaholic ADD person often is an attempt to numb and deny the emotional pain and to keep the sense of inadequacy out of sight and out of mind

- a person with ADD is prone to giving a higher priority to protecting the needs of others rather than respecting their own personal needs

- a truly important person is one who considers his/her self worthy enough to take one hour every day that can be called his/her own ... Mate (and I too) notes that he had worked so hard and made himself so "important" that he could not beg, borrow or steal even a minutes for himself

As I read Mate's words I couldn't help but say - "THAT'S ME !!!!"

The challenge before me now, is to engage these observations and to chart a NEW course as I move forward ... It's not a case of being all better now ... but instead it is about actively engaging the reality that lies within in new ways as I encounter those moments where my sense of self crashes against the challenging moments I face.

The place to start this process is by liking myself ... taking time for myself ... and addressing the self-esteem issues in a positive and constructive way.

Previously I mentioned a book by David Deida entitled "The Way of the Superior Man" which had been recommended by a friend ... In the book Deida insists that a Superior Man takes one hour each day to do something he really enjoys. He puts no limits on what that something needs to be. He only insists that it MUST happen if the man is to be healthy, whole and happy.

Today I will name and own that I have never really taken the time for myself. I have never felt I was deserving of this honour. I have never looked after me in an appropriate way.

Today that begins to change.

I am deserving of that one hour a day to do what I really enjoy doing.

Starting today, I will intentionally take that hour and spend it doing what I want to do.

Starting today, I will start to intentionally spend time with myself and get to know myself better.

Starting today, I will start to like myself ... it won't be about what others think of me, it will be about what I think of me !!!

Good or Bad - I am who I am ... I need to accept that and learn to live with it, and me ...

Dayenu !!!

1 comment:

laughing pastor said...

I learned the hard way that my self-esteem is not other people's responsibility. Earlier in life I would basically give another person the responsibility to take care of and nurture my self-esteem. If they didn't do their job I was depressed and hard on myself. If they gave me affirmation I had confidence.

A wise friend taught me that my self-esteem is woven in my encounter and experience of God. God made me who I am. God knows me the most.

Now when my self-esteem plummets I don't turn to other people, I turn to prayer, and meditation with God.

Yesterday I went for a long walk. The only prayer I could utter was, "Lord I need peace, wisdom and strength." I just repeated again and again, then I sat down in silence.

God does what God promises. By ends day I was at peace, gained a bit of wisdom to share in my sermon and had strength enough to wake up today and lead people.

I'll pray for you. You pray for me.