iI adjusted, over the last few years, to taking fewer things personally. I found this idea in the Four Agreements, from Miguel Ruiz, and I know this notion seems inappropriate to some of my friends, and impossible to others. Most people are not thinking about me at all — Surprise! As I stated in previous posts, I always believed that any word, even any thought from another person, was aimed directly at me. I was, after all, Queen of the Universe (S.’s term, but it felt so right.)
In fact, my youngest sister, M., stated it best — she said our family consists primarily of narcissists with low self-esteem, (Thanks, M.) I though I’d take a look at how my self-involvement influences my life.
As I stated above, I spent most of my adult life taking remarks other people made personally. At first, I reacted with a little frustration; for instance, if someone said that their secretaries is stupid, I immediately assumed that, because I was a secretary, that stupid must have included me. But, as time went by, and I got more and more depressed, I began to assume that people aimed those criticisms and judgments directly at me. A long while back, I wrote a post called Just Because I’m Paranoid. The entire quotes reads thusly:
Just because I’m paranoid
doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me — David Pimm
The grammar is all wrong, but the quote describes how I felt, pretty much all the time. I did not feel the type of person is always on the lookout for who is going to get them next. Rather, my opinion of myself was so negative, I thought all of the bad things people said must apply to me. My self-esteem had sunk so low that I figured I was the cause of everything bad. As I said, a narcissist with low self-esteem.
I am posting about low self-esteem because my brand new social worker came over today. She told me she read my medical history, and could tell just from that document that I must have really low self-esteem. Once we had talked for a while, she recognized that my last several months have presented me with situations through which I understand better now my own value and my place in the world.
I do not mean to say that I am cured — far from it. Once or twice every day, I experience a brief surge of anger or hurt because of some innocent word. But now, I can catch myself in the earliest stages of my anger, and redirect my thoughts and feelings into more positive paths. I know that my improved self-worth allows me to make those changes, where a few years ago, such a downturn would result in my decision that I could never be happy. Now, finally, I understand that I am less unique in my sad moods, and that those moods don’t have to become permanent.
I tell you truly, dear reader, I love feeling so much better about myself. So now maybe I am a narcissist with moderate self-esteem. I understand that my depression had more to do with my feelings about my own sad self. Each person in the human race has his or her personal stuff to consider — now, I have the tools and the sense of self-worth to consider my own, and to care not one bit for what I think others may say about me. Or mostly not one bit — that is my goal. Meanwhile, I love and forgive myself for every screw up, and I look forward with eager eyes to the next awakening. Anyone can do this; we must only remember that no one is perfect, and that we are all doing the best we can.