[Word count: 597. Approximate read time: 3 minutes]
Having low self-esteem isn’t so bad. It’s no worse than sharing a bedroom with your worst enemy. If you don’t mind a sadistic killer trying to dissolve you from the inside all day long with acidic mind chatter, it’s a fine life. I had a minor disagreement with co-workers over where to have lunch and here’s what happened.
The negative voice started out slight:
- “They don’t like you.”
- “They don’t want you around.”
- “You’re so difficult.”
- “Why can’t you go with the flow?”
But if left unchecked, that trickles to a flood of:
- “You’re always the problem.”
- “Nobody wants you.”
- “Nobody likes you.”
- “That’s why your girl left you.”
- “Who could love you when you act like that?”
- “You’re going to be alone for the rest of your life. And that’s what you deserve.”
Isn’t that a little over the top? In fact, it’s ridiculous. But that’s what I’m dealing with—a constant stream of hateration and holleration in my dancerie. The problem is… it’s not all untrue. Sometimes I am difficult. And I usually won’t just go with the flow. The voice isn’t a total liar, but—like a tabloid—it exaggerates so much, I don’t know WHAT to believe.
Part of my solution is simply to provide a less harsh news source:
- “That minor issue doesn’t outweigh all your positive qualities.”
- “Your friends invest time into you; they think you’re worth it.”
- “Your employer invests money into you; they know you’re worth it.”
- “You’re not easily pushed over. Don’t apologize for that.”
- “Thinking things through before taking action is a good thing.”
- “Your ex-girl said you were easy to love. The next girl might just agree.”
- “You’ve invested too much into your personal relationships to ever truly be alone.”
I COULD believe this. It‘s at least BASED on a true story. And it doesn’t leave me feeling worthless, depressed, and wanting to isolate myself. But it’s all so subjective! It’s unclear which is more accurate. I want to believe what’s true, but I always thought truth was absolute. Not necessarily. You could argue for either side of this and win. Here’s what I learned: I didn’t understand I had a choice in what to believe. What you choose can then become the truth.
So what do I do? How do I stop the trickle from becoming a flood? I choose to believe the best.
“You might be wrong though.”
— I might be, but I choose to believe the best.
“That wasn’t superb. You really could’ve done better.”
—It wasn’t. I’ll try to do better next time. I choose to believe the best.
“But you hurt someone’s feelings. You can’t just ignore that.”
—I did. I apologized. There’s nothing else I can do. I choose to believe the best.
“Oh, okay. You don’t want the truth. You just want to feel great about yourself all the time. You’re a fool.”
— The question really is— WHY do you want me to feel bad about myself all the time? You’re a bully. You’re not trying to help me. You don’t like me. You want me broken and ineffective. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. STOP. I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THE BEST.
Agent Smith: You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson… Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose… You must know it by now. You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?
Neo: Because I choose to.