Building Self Esteem - A Never Ending Task

Building self esteem can turn into a lifelong pursuit - a treasure hunt for something already in your grasp.

It starts, usually, while we're children.

I had a great childhood - and yet, self-doubt sometimes takes over.

Many people are not so lucky. Their time as children may have amounted to a complete lack of a normal childhood.

Or a time of great turmoil, even tragedy.

My sisters and I were born in the 1940's and '50's.

Childhood in those days was very different from what it is today.

School was a lot more enjoyable. There was a lot of emphasis on memorizing things - spelling lists, arithmetic facts, grammatical constructions and parts of speech, States and State capitals.

Enjoyable, that is, for those who had no problem memorizing.

Lots of opportunities for building self esteem.

My recollection is that the vast majority of my classmates really had no problem memorizing.

But lots of time was spent in drills during the school day.

We didn't have much homework until we reached high school.

So time after school, on weekends, and during summers was time when we enjoyed the great outdoors.

We played in the dirt as young children, played in creeks and ponds as we grew older. We climbed trees, built tree houses, made forts in the tall weeds, and made mazes of paths through the weeds.

More building self esteem.

We rode bikes everywhere, mostly on dirt roads and trails.

Our bikes were mostly well-worn, used bikes with fat tires, no fenders, and Bendix brakes. We poured sour milk into the tubes after riding over trails with tons of goatheads.

We played hide and seek, kick the can, cops and robbers - all kinds of games and activities invented by friends or passed down by older siblings of friends.

There were pick-up games of baseball and football played on vacant lots with lots of opportunities for cuts and abrasions.

We thought we were tough - more of that process of building self esteem.

I haven't even begun to recount the greatest times of all - those high school years. High school in the late '50's and early 60's was amazing.

That's a story for another day.

What was your childhood like?

Did you come out of it feeling like life was your oyster - or did you enter adulthood full of doubts and fears?

Things have changed a lot over the decades. And, things were not so great for everyone in my generation.

For anyone who had a childhood similar to mine, it would seem to be nearly impossible to have low self esteem.

But events of adulthood can quickly rip a great childhood to shreds. Not for me, but for many of my generation - especially those who had to be directly involved in the Vietnam War.

And it doesn't even have to be that drastic.

Other tragedies, more localized - maybe at the level of the family, or one or more relationships gone bad - or the sudden death of a close family member - any such events can cause your world to crash.

Whatever happened to put dents and holes in your self esteem, you likely spend time trying to build it back up.

Or maybe it has always been at a very low level.

That low self esteem might prevent you from believing that you have great power within yourself.

Just as I occasionally spend time reminiscing about the past - maybe as an escape from the present moment - you and I can benefit from realizing that the past is only a memory, or a series of memories.

The past doesn't exist. It's history - much of it ancient history, especially in my case.

Self esteem has to do with the ego. Ego is a fiction of the mind.

For years and decades I've struggled with ego and everything associated with it.

I've read and studied everything I could get my hands on.

Some of it seems to have helped, but many of the writings of well-known authors are just so much inner chatter brought out and written down.

We read it and marvel, because it many times coincides with some of our own inner chatter.

Building self esteem is really about understanding who we are.

When you don't play roles, it means there is no self (ego) in what you do. There is no secondary agenda: protection or strengthening of your self. As a result, your actions have far greater power. You are totally focused on the situation. You become one with it. You don't try to be anybody in particular. You are most powerful, most effective, when you are completely yourself. Eckhart Tolle

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