Something I’ve really come to realize is how building “self-esteem” is a waste of time, and actually psychologically detrimental to overcoming issues like social anxiety.
Maybe this has already been talked about here in a thread, but I felt inspired to bring it up in my own way.
The great Albert Ellis who founded REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy) talks about this. Cognitive-Behavior Therapy heavily incorporates elements of REBT as well.
The problem with the concept of having “self-esteem” is this:
How do you gauge it and how do you know that you have enough self-esteem?
No matter how high your “self-esteem” is, if you come from a mindset of always trying to get more, build more, you’ll never be good enough.
Someone will always be better than you, and you’ll always be better than someone else.
Two sides of the same coin – better than/less than. It’s a complete mental trap.
WHY RAISING SELF-ESTEEM IS TOTAL BS, AS A SELF-HELP METHOD
Albert Ellis talks about how the concept of self-esteem is actually DETRIMENTAL to any real progress of well-being/contentment/happiness.
I completely agree with him. It also has been my experience. Since I have learned self-acceptance, my life has been 100-fold greater.
But when I tried to get more self-esteem, it was a bottomless pit of unhappiness and very tiring.
So what does Ellis suggest?
THIS IS VERY SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY. It is paradoxical, because most of us are brought up to think in dualism (right/wrong, good/bad, either/or).
However I’d like to talk about self-acceptance, which is really where it stems from.
To me, really universal self-acceptance = universal other acceptance when it comes down to it, once you have the mindset that we are all human beings trying to work and live together, no matter how much we resist it.
And even though we live in a society that is based in dualism, what is, is, at the end of the day.
Which is also the beauty of self-acceptance and accepting what is – it is inclusive of dualistic thinking (good/evil, right/wrong). It is inclusive of everything.
We actually do need to use dualism to navigate the world. It is embedded in our language. We cannot get away from it. So we have to learn to get a new perspective on dualism.
With self-esteem you can never get there. You are always comparing yourself to others to know if you have enough or don’t. It is fundamentally flawed by design.
With self-acceptance you are either there or not. But once you flip the switch to self-acceptance, you are there and a new sense of peace comes over you.
So What Does Self-Acceptance Involve?
It involves letting go of “either/or” thinking, yet includes it still. Most of us are taught growing up to think good and evil, right and wrong, better and worse.
This does well to control people and society from a fearful standpoint, but does nothing for well-being and contentment.
Instead of “either-or” thinking, it involves “and-and” thinking.
Now what the hell does that mean?
It means “I am angry and frustrated at my parents for raising me the way they did (or not being there for me) AND I accept myself even though I feel this way.”
“I am so happy and having a fun time with my family right now AND I accept myself.”
“I want to kill my boyfriend/girlfriend right now, because they’ve pissed me off AND I accept myself no matter what I’m feeling.” (The universal other-acceptance piece would be “I accept them even though I feel they’ve treated me wrong.”)
And the kicker of all kickers for most of us here:
“Even though I have this social anxiety, I accept myself completely and know that I can overcome it day-by-day, because if others have overcome it, so can I.”
Does this mean you walk around like a woo-woo floating fake-yoga person, loving everything. Hell no. This is very, very practical and you are allowed to get angry, sad, or whatever.
No matter if you feel what is judged to be good, or judged to be bad, you are constantly accepting. It is like breathing, it is constant.
Acceptance is not just a one time event, it is a constant process that goes on-and-on. it is a practice. For all these years, I’ve heard it over and over and said “yeaaah right, whatever, I need to accept myself.”
I had heard the concept from a very cerebral standpoint, but didn’t feel it in my being.
Understanding in your head is not real knowing, it is just the doorway to knowing. Knowing is feeling it in your emotional state or on a being level.
If you think I’m full of shit, say it. I very much welcome it.
I’m certainly not a buddha, but The Buddha always encouraged his students to question and challenge him, because it is all about what you experience and finding out WHAT IS TRUE FOR YOU and true in your experience.
Compare that to the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) which are more-often than not fear-based and if you question “the word of god” or a pastor, that shit will get you kicked straight out of the church, or in old times, burned at the stake.
Test it for yourself. I’ve experienced it and continue to feel it. I continue to test it everyday. If it stops working then I will throw it all away, no qualms about it.
That’s the only way I know it works and continues to.
“Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not.” – Bruce Lee
I hope you can discover how dismantle your social anxiety and learn how to become a socially expressive person.