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Self-Esteem and Positive Thinking December 2, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 18) Self-Esteem and Positive Thinking.
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PARTICIPANT: I don’t believe you have addressed the question of self-esteem. I’ve counseled several young people who have problems with low self-esteem. How important is it to have self-esteem and how do you impart that quality to them?

WW: As I’ve stated previously, I’m not an expert on young people and all of their problems. I prefer to work with people who have come of age, let’s say 21 and older. It usually takes some level of maturity to go beyond behaviorism and authority, and that’s where I prefer to work. I will, however, give you my two cents worth.

Teens do seem to go through troubled times. They become rebellious and obnoxious, they get pimples, and they go through esteem troubles, but they somehow seem to eventually get through those years. I think we make all too much of these things, and unless it gets to the point that they’re bed-bound or suicidal, I think it may be best to leave them alone.

As for someone of age, if they were suffering from low self-esteem, I certainly wouldn’t offer them more heroin or crack cocaine.

PARTICIPANT: I wasn’t thinking of anything associated with drug abuse problems.

WW: What would you do for someone who came to you saying that they had run out of heroin and they were suffering with pain?

PARTICIPANT: I’d make a few phone calls and see if I could arrange to have them go to drug rehab.

WW: Right, and the drug rehab people are not going to give the person heroin, are they?

PARTICIPANT: No, they’ll see the person through the pain of detox and then work on counseling.

WW: We get addicted to self-esteem in the same way and there isn’t a twit worth of difference between the two. Society recognizes drug addiction as something that needs to be fixed. But for some reason, self-esteem is recognized as normal and something that people need. Counselors esteem to try to fix the self-esteem “problem,” (and that is problem in quotation marks), rather than recognize that selfness is where the trouble started. Virtually everyone on the planet is addicted to self-esteem, so it’s almost universally recognized as a necessity.

The drug addict sees his problem as one of insufficient heroin, when the actual root of his trouble is his addiction to the drug. Whether he has the drug or does not have the drug makes no difference, he’s still addicted. People see a person with low self-esteem as deficient or that he needs to have his esteem built up. I assert that it makes no difference whether he does or does not have esteem of self; he’s still addicted.

When a child gets plenty of attention and approval, it develops a sense of self-importance. Everyone does it. It feels gooood to be important. That gooood feeling, which we’ve been getting since infancy, makes the sense of self-importance stick to us like glue. In so-called adulthood, a person looks around and sees that everyone else is still operating on this childish decision, therefore it must not be childish. I assert that it is indeed childish, and furthermore, this highly expanded self, whether it becomes gratified or not, prevents us from functioning as the adults that we are designed to be. I assert that we are not designed to have self-esteem and that our design is to be humble, and I don’t mean that as a type of behavior. Each dictionary seems to have a little bit different definition of the word “humble”, but one of the definitions I read was “to be made small.” Unchecked self esteem reminds me of computer viruses. The more viruses a computer has, the worse it operates until, if left unchecked, it no longer functions according to its design. Compounding the difficulty, it is as if virtually every computer in the world has a similar set of viruses so that the computer operators are unaware that there may be another way to function.

When we break self-esteem down and reevaluate it, it turns out to be the result of the same old story of self-gratification, the goal of controlling events that affect me, the center of the universe. We drew an incoming arrow on our picture. In practice, there are a numerous arrows, most of which the center sees as happening to us. When we see life as happening to us, we are confined to our center. The mind has become concentrated. We see the happenings as the external source of our problems. We seek exoteric cures such as controlling others, therapy, meditation, anything but an esoteric examination of the center. As the self becomes huge with esteem values, the awareness function becomes feeble.

The term, self-esteem, is something that’s come about in relatively recent years. Thirty or forty years ago, the popular term was “positive self-image,” but the term seems to have fallen out of grace for some reason. The term has a similar meaning and also has serious faults.

I’ll bet we’ve all seen a thousand people with a serious image disorder. It starts with a person having an image of self that the person wants to actualize. They try to project an image outwardly, and some do it very well, failing to recognize what they are doing. After a certain amount of practice, the image seems real to them, not just an act. They project an image and the corresponding gestures, mannerisms, look, speech, etc. It may be an image of toughness, gentleness and kindness, joviality, country boy, gang-banger, intellectual, spiritual leader, among many others.

Eventually, the image becomes a controlling troll, a spiritual parasite that has taken over the being of the person and is in complete control. I call it a spiritual parasite because the freeloading troll is a growth on the awareness function that doesn’t belong there. It’s very difficult to communicate genuinely with someone like that because the parasite doesn’t want to let go. The communication is with the parasite. That parasite cares only of itself. The awareness function must pay the price.

We all grew up with self-image. All sorts of persons have all types of images of themselves. When another person questions our self-image, we then get into deeper trouble by defending that image as if someone just took a swipe at us. The next question is, why bother to have any image at all? Self-image is a static idea. None of us are static by any means. Whether we are identified with all sorts of trolls or not, we are not static. Everyone in this room is a dynamic being with constantly rolling ideas and attitudes. The self-image, whether adopted or self-manufactured, puts a sluggardly view on the perception of events that go on right before our eyes.

ED: I understand your point, but it seems to me that positive thinking is a way for someone to get past this self-esteem problem.

WW: Tell me more. What does positive thinking do for low self-esteem?

ED: It seems to me that if a person has positive thoughts that it will overcome the low self-esteem.

WW: So, it’s sort of like a battle then, between two types of thinking.

ED: No. A person who’s thinking positively won’t have the low self-esteem, the negative self-image.

WW: So, a person who thinks positively won’t be experiencing internal conflict?

ED: Not unless he’s thinking positively and negatively at the same time. That’s the whole idea of positive thinking—eliminate the negative and go with the positive.

WW: So, a person is having negative thoughts, but tries to overcome the negative with the positive.

ED: Right. Positive over negative.

WW: Then a person who saw, in the first place, that something was positive would have no need to think positively. Is that correct?

ED: Well, sure. He’s thinking positively.

WW: Then the positive thinkers must be seeing in the negative, or they would have no need for positive thinking. Would you try to think positively if someone walked up to you and gave you a hundred dollar bill?

ED: Of course not! I’d have no need to think positively.

WW: Then you’ve proved my point. They are seeing negatively and thinking positively; they are experiencing a battle of ideology; they are experiencing turmoil and stress. When a person doesn’t see something as negative, it doesn’t require thought; the person just accepts it and moves on. Thinking positively is an attempt to trick oneself into believing something that one sees as not true. One part of us is in a battle with another part.

It works in the same way as the pursuit of happiness. A person who’s in the pursuit of happiness must be unhappy. I’ll go further and state that the pursuit of happiness must bring about a sense of unhappiness because of the duality. Not that the pursuit causes unhappiness, it is unhappiness. The person sees a situation of unhappiness, but has a projected image of happiness, and that is the stress of duality. A person doesn’t pursue something that is already being experienced.

If there is such a state as happiness, what person might find it?

ED: Someone who eliminates the negative—the unhappiness.

WW: But that’s the state of duality and more unhappiness that I just described. What about a person who has no definition of happiness? What if a person realized that the image of happiness was an illusion and ceased pursuing it? I could define happiness as: a state of no concern about whether one is happy or not. Wouldn’t a person who didn’t care one way or the other about happiness then be carefree?

ED: But there are plenty of people out there who swear by positive thinking. If that many people think there’s something to it, there must be something to it.

WW: Virtually everyone believes that resistance is a bad thing, but that doesn’t make it true. A few hundred years ago, everyone believed that the world was flat, but that didn’t make it true.

ED: Well, I’m still going with it ‘till somethin’ else comes along.

WW: Well, that’s what we’re doing here, seeing if something else comes along.