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Day 16 Self-esteem and sensitivity to criticism

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by hopeful_guitarist, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. hopeful_guitarist

    hopeful_guitarist Peer Supporter

    Day 16 says we shouldn't underestimate the impact of current stresses. This is ringing true for me. I have been reviewing my childhood and most of my "traumatic" events I'm journaling about are just normal parts of growing up - an embarrassment here, a mistake there. I can't point to one big cause of repressed anger from my childhood or young adulthood.

    But the cumulative lifetime effects of a goodist personality has left me as a relatively successful and happy 40-something-year-old who is extremely sensitive to criticism and is always wondering when he will finally be called out as a fraud.

    I have a great marriage. But here's a typical childish example - if I make a mix CD for my wife and I notice her skip one of the songs in the car I start to think, "Oh, crap, I screwed up there - I wasted her time and picked a song she didn't want to hear." Ridiculous, huh? And I know logically that if someone made me a mix CD and I skipped a song my overwhelming thought would be gratitude that they thought of me in the first place.

    It's similar at work. I'm on the senior leadership team. People come to me many times a day for guidance. They respect my opinion and I get tons of feedback that I'm valuable and helpful and all that. But my mind is focused on things I should have worded differently, obsessing about a disagreement I had with the CEO (where I was proven right, by the way). I worry that I'll get fired for some dumb mistake or misunderstanding. And what if I can't find another job? My paranoid little id is positive that in the very next meeting someone is going to leap up and point at me and declare, "Wait, he has NO IDEA WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT!" and everyone else will join in, "Yeah, I've always thought that about him! What's he even doing here?!"

    It's madness, right? But even just imagining it right now is getting me anxious.

    My conscious mind is confident. My subconscious is scared to death. I was reading The Divided Mind last night and Dr. Sarno writes (emphasis mine):

    I found it of great interest that Adler thought the neurotic state was generated by a need to avoid “a greater evil,” namely, to prevent one’s worthlessness from being disclosed.

    Our experience with thousands of TMS patients leads us to find that the mind considers that the greater evil would be the conscious experience of emotional pain and rage. Another interpretation is that conscious feelings of worthlessness stimulate the drive to be perfect and good that, in turn, stimulates unconscious rage, resulting in a neurotic state.

    Another Adlerian observation parallels our experience with TMS patients: he found those patients with feelings of worthlessness to be extremely sensitive to criticism. This appears to be a reaction to intense feelings of inferiority.​

    What really hit me was "to prevent one's worthlessness from being disclosed". I see my subconscious going to extraordinary lengths to keep this from happening - do whatever it takes to make sure the outside world does not realize that you are making stuff up as you go.

    I don't know the solution yet. I've read a lot about self-esteem in the past - even done workbooks on it. I've meditated on loving myself. I've tried to imagine myself as my dog sees me. I've tried to imagine what I'd tell my inner child, or the 5-year-old me. And I love that little guy -- I want only the best for him.

    But none of it has stuck yet. Or at least not enough of it.
     
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  2. Jackhammer

    Jackhammer New Member

    Congrats for your day 16, and thanks for cutting me a slice of TMS pie that I did not see coming and will hopefully work up an appetite for very soon.
    You had me at "feelings of worthlessness" and then added "extremely sensitive to criticism".

    I am very happy to hear you have a dog, the best love available.
    Too many people never get it, and that is sad.
    You said, " I try to imagine myself as my dog sees me". What could be a better pursuit?
    Again, thank you.
    This is my Day 1.
    Jack
     
    hopeful_guitarist likes this.
  3. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Yeah, that's me too. It's taken me a long, long time to even admit I have poor self esteem, because admitting it would mean I had poor self esteem! And poor self esteem is for people who have poor self esteem, and who wants to be like them? I may as well call them losers while I'm at it - and there's the rub. Behind the poor self esteem is the feeling of worthlessness. Have you ever thought about the word worthless? We normally associate it with something that has no value whatsoever. But think of it as two words: worth and less. I'm worth less than that other person. That in itself is a damaging thought, it can only cause anxiety. I speak as someone who is aware of this but hasn't yet believed it in my heart. That's the hard bit.

    Hopeful_guitarist I've seen your posts before and I can't remember your pain source, but I think you're on the right track. People keep saying it takes time, and I wonder if you turn the corner on this pain without realising you've turned the corner. It seems to be a common piece of advice from the 'gurus' on this wiki that the goal is to not be consumed by the pain, to be indifferent about it. Again, easier said than done - I'm on Day 8 and my pain is still trying to get my attention.
     
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