Self-Esteem and Doing it for Yourself

Yesterday, I was listening to an interview Rob Lowe did on The Nerdist podcast:

I highly recommend listening to the whole thing, but the part that I can relate to treatment and recovery specifically starts around minute 32. He starts talking about the process of getting sober, and then around minute 34 he starts talking about how people kept telling him to work on  his self-esteem.  His response was “great, how do I do that?  Do I do push ups or something?”  Wow, can I relate to that.  I have known for awhile now that I really need to work on my self-esteem.  The problem is, I don’t know how to do that.  It’s hard to start building your self-esteem when you have very little self worth.

Thankfully, Rob Lowe had some advice that ironically enough was EXACTLY what my therapist and I were talking about earlier this week.  he says that the only way to work on self-esteem is to do “self-esteeming behavior,” by acting within your values and doing things that make you feel better about yourself.  My therapist and I were talking on Monday about using that lens when I am examining whether to say “yes” or “no” to something.  Since it is impossible to do everything I want/feel like I need to do, I need to start weighing whether or not it will help me feel better about myself in the long run.  I am trying to do that, although I think a problem is that have a lot of values and very high standards for what it means to live according to those values, and they clash and then it gets messy.

Furthermore, Rob Lowe went on to talk about how “until you’re doing it for you, you’re doomed.”  Unfortunately, I am not really at the point where I want to do this for myself.  It’s not that I have no personal motivators, it is just that the short term feels so awful right now that to get through the day I often use external motivators like not wanting to hurt my family, keep my job, etc.  I guess keeping my job is part of doing it for myself, but I don’t think it’s quite the same as doing it for myself.

This morning I was watching Code Black from Wednesday, and there was a quote that I think helps clarify what is meant by doing it for yourself.  There was a patient who was detoxing from alcohol after many past attempts to get sober, and his attending told him “You can’t just do it for your daughter.  You’ve got to do it for you.  You’ve got to believe you’re worth it.”

I think that last sentence is the key – you’ve got to believe you’re worth it.  As I mentioned above, I do have a decent amount of personal motivators, such as having an amazing job that I want to keep.  However, I am not at the point yet where I believe that I am worth it.  But, hopefully, and in tying this back to the beginning of this post, if I can improve my self-esteem by doing self-esteeming things, I will eventually get to the point where I believe I am worth it.  In the meantime, I think there is a lot to be said for “fake it ’till you make it.”


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