I had the epiphany of all epiphanies, the breakthrough of all breakthroughs. I found the key to everything that is wrong with me, your mileage may vary,
This is not some new thought I hadn’t known before nor some magic revelation. It’s a common, well known issue but I had not been able to apply it to myself in a way that made sense.
It’s all about self perception, self image. Duh, right?
My self perception has been horrible and you will usually live up or down to your own perceptions. If you see yourself as stupid you will literally become stupid.
I have been seeing myself as a fraud; as not capable and lazy, among other things. I’ve not been able to solve the puzzle of my apathy and ineptness for so long. Its all there in the self perception. I’ve tried many things but nothing I do or think will ever have an effect until I improve my self image. That’s why nothing has worked and why I never change. It’s at the root of my lack of self confidence.
Looking back, I don’t think I have ever had a positive self image. As far back as grade school, maybe earlier. I was always an average achiever at best. I don’t remember being encouraged to strive for more either; certainly didn’t care to myself. Being average didn’t have a cost either. My parents were wealthy and generous enough to give me most of what I wanted. But not everything. Many kids in over privileged Southern California got cars when they turned 16. I did not. I no uncertain terms my parents said, no way, and it didn’t really bug me because I never thought of myself as entitled. But my parents could have said, you can have a car if you can do these things; and laid out some very specific and challenging goals. Give me something to strive for and teach me that hard work and perseverance are worthwhile. The only thing I ever wanted badly was a personal computer. I wanted an Apple //e but again, my parents said no. This time, I was determined and schemed a way to get a Commodore 64 instead. It was much less expensive than the Apple and was within the realm of possibility with enough paying side work and chores. Seeing my determination and knowing it wasn’t just a passing fancy, my dad got me the Apple //e. You see, I was never made to work for anything. All I ever needed to be was average. I also think this is the root of my belief that I was a fraud. Deep down, I felt like I didn’t deserve all that I had because I did not do anything to get it. I knew I didn’t earn anything.
Something else I also go back to is my family and the wonder sisters. I was never able to measure up to them, what did it do to my self image? I’ll never be that good, that smart. Why even try. The beginnings of a self image; average at best. Even in todays world, I often feel intimidated by others in my field who I see as better than I am. In many cases they are but it confirms my bad self image and the fraud feelings. Just because there are other people more capable than you in your given field of work doesn’t mean you are worthless, except it did for me.
The next logical question is, how do I get out of this mess?
It’s one part Tony Robbins, one part Henry Rollins. Tony Robbins, in one of his audio tapes said “how long does it take to change?” The answer, “in an instant”. The moment you make the decision and start taking action. For the first time, this resonated with me. Make a decision. The decision I made, quite conclusively, was not to let myself think of myself in a negative way again, no matter what. I was very careful about the language I used in my head, not allowing myself to continue to use the negative words I had in the past. This was really a key thing. I knew it was going to take time to really cement this and there would be struggles, but I took it day by day. Just small moments in time to remind myself that I was ok and I had nothing to feel badly about. How was I able to flip the switch like that? Because I was focused on the right thing, the self image. Then I was listening to Henry Rollins one day while cleaning out the garage and the song Low Self Opinion came on. It’s the first track on the album The End of Silence. I had herd the track plenty of times but this time, it hit me like a freight train. The whole song, but particularly this:
“If you could see the you that I see
When I see you
You would see things differently
I assure you”it
Exactly, and that’s what I was starting to do, see myself as “you” see me. And it’s working. It has been close to a month since I first stumbled on this revelation and I feel much better. My outlook is sunnier and I have a renewed self confidence at work. After many, many years of a painful downward trend, I am looking forward to many years of an upward spiral. Not that this is a cure-all. Far from it. I feel like an alcoholic in that I’ve licked a problem but it will always be there, lurking if I am not careful. I have a problem with negative self impulses and that’s not going away, but I have learned to deal with it and control it.
I’m not done yet either. I have a long way to go still to get where I want to go, but now I feel like I have a bit of hope. As I learned from the deepest part of my depression, hope is everything.
Onward and upward!