Monday, September 25, 2017

Self-esteem and control

We women especially often grow up with lots of issues around self-esteem and confidence. Sometimes it takes us many years before we feel a strong sense of self and develop the confidence we need. It's been said that women apologize far too often—for things we haven't even caused or that need no apology. Further, we are so hard on ourselves—judging ourselves harshly for things we'd never judge in our dear friends.

And whether it's a spouse, a parent, a friend or a boss, we can often succumb to efforts at controlling us in one way or another. That's why the words of my friend Gail Kittleson in her book Catching Up with Daylight: A Journey to Wholeness spoke to me:

"In the process, we can become beneficent to ourselves. It's a long road from harsh self-judgment to merciful kindness. Many of us consistently show kindness to others and refrain from judging, but when it comes to our own attitudes and actions, rude condemnation reigns. Cutting ourselves some slack takes time and practice. Unfortunately, each encounter with a controller reinforces the tendency to discount and dishonor our own autonomy.

"Manipulation and abuse have a cumulative effect. Controllers know how to angle us off-center a bit more with each confrontation. With enough time, we feel helpless and can't even put into words why we feel confused or upset. Of course, this looks like evidence that the controller is right about us, but we can learn to recognize that off-kilter sensation as a warning sign, our body telling us that something is wrong."

If this resonates with you, please talk with someone about it. You're welcome to contact me if you wish. And if you have a friend who is controlled by someone, don't be afraid to gently broach the subject. We all need and deserve self-love and self-care. We all are capable of agency and making our own choices.