Posts Tagged ‘Self-respect’

I heard the words. How could I not? I was looking straight at him and in his eyes. He was staring back at me but could not hold his gaze. He smiled slightly and quickly looked down at the table. He fiddled with a piece of paper and looked around quickly. He would not look back up at me even though I had not moved and was still looking at him.

I felt as if someone had just thrown cold water on me. I felt chills go up my back. My stomach turned a bit. The room was quiet all of a sudden. Heads snapped towards this man who had just spoken the rawest truth I had heard in a long time. His truth.

I heard some rustling as the other men began to react to what he had said. I stepped back and looked at them. I smiled slightly and put my hand up to tell them to not react. Some were shaking their heads at what they had heard. Others glared at him and some looked away, ashamed for him and at themselves.

I walked back behind my podium. I felt everyone’s eyes on me, waiting to see what I would say and what I would do. After all, I’m a woman who is working with men who had been convicted of domestic abuse.

They were expecting me to react. They expected me to get upset.

And for a moment, I wanted to.

But that would defeat the purpose of getting someone to talk and be honest. If I reacted because someone was honest and I had guaranteed that I would listen to what they had to say, then what good am I?

I looked back at him. He was still looking down and began to rub his face. He was embarrassed by what he had said.

“How do you figure, Sam?” I asked.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” he said. He looked up at me quickly and then back down at the table.

“No, you said it. Now explain it to the rest of us,” I said. “I’m curious about your line of thought, but from now on, no more swearing. She’s not a bitch; she’s a woman. Can you remember that?” I asked and waited.

“Yes ma’am. I’m sorry,” he said.

“How come you think she deserved it?”

“Because she knew what pissed….I’m sorry….what made me angry, but she would do it anyway. It was all her fault.”

Many of the men began shaking their heads. Some muttered under their breath while others nodded. All remained quiet and waited.

I was suddenly interested in what he had to say and where this would go.

“So it’s OK to hit people if they make you angry? Is that right?” I asked.

“Some people, yes,” he said.

And so began a long journey into the mind of an abuser. The more he talked and was blunt, the more that came out from him and others.

After that class, I called the Program Director to see if I could get information on Sam’s wife and what had happened. She was not in the system so was not someone who would be in any of my classes but that was just a rule. It had nothing to do with me as far as I was concerned.

A week later, Sam’s wife called me.

“Can you help him?” she asked.

“That’s not the point of my call,” I said. “It’s up to Sam if I do or not. I’m calling to help you.”

“Oh, thanks but I’m fine,” she said.

“No you’re not. You’re far from fine and it’s about time you admitted it,” I said. “You haven’t been fine for a long time, have you?”

There was silence and I waited.

“No,” she said. I could barely hear her.

“When are you going to fix you? That’s the question I want an answer to.”

“I don’t know what to do…” she said. I could hear her crying quietly.

“Let’s see what we can do with you and not worry about Sam.”

And another long journey began, but this one was in the mind of a victim.

Two opposite journeys that were intricately connected. You can’t have one without the other.

Sam’s wife was allowed to join my classes with battered women even though she was not an inmate.

It was against the rules, but I disagreed with the rules.

So did the Program Director.

She was no longer alone. She was no longer ashamed. Because Sam was locked-up, she had the time and help to figure things out for herself. The women welcomed her and pushed her to look long and hard at her situation.

In their own way and with only the way they could help, she slowly pulled herself up out of the gutter and regained her pride and self-respect.

She divorced his ass and walked away with her kids.

Sam learned enough to leave her alone and let them be.

That was the one smart thing he did in his life.

This is a fairly new word that has crept into almost daily conversation.

Drama. We don’t need no stinking drama.

I hear about people not wanting it in their lives. I see it on almost every dating website profile that I have ever read.  NO DRAMA screams the words. I see people getting fired because of “the drama.” I’ve even had clients fire employees because of it. I’ve been seeing quite a bit of it on social networks.

But what does it mean now-a -days? That’s the question that has been bothering me. This word has taken on a new definition and I’m not sure what it means. But I do know what it is when I see it. Oh, it’s oh-so-clear when you see it and I think now I have a new mission in life.

Knock off all the drama. I think I now have zero tolerance for it in myself and in others. Because I’m tired of it. I’m sick of it and I’m tired of dealing with people who think they are entitled. You’re not. You never have been and you never will be.

I recently had a heart-to-heart with an employee of a client. I had been given a head’s up to try to sort this girl out because she was bringing her personal problems to work every day. Apparently she was going through a rough divorce (they’re all rough) and was sad and snappy during the day. The boss liked her enough to send her my way but had lost patience.

There were tears and justifications during the conversation. I sat. I listened. I handed her Kleenex and let her vent. Then I was done. I asked her what the hell she thought she was doing. I asked her why she acted like she did and then pointed out her job was at risk.

I wish I could have taken a picture of the look on her face when I told her that. She actually thought she could say whatever she wanted to say because she was entitled. She thought she was ENTITLED to act anyway she wanted because it was everyone else’s problem if they couldn’t deal with it. This included talking back to her boss.

She ended up getting fired because as far as she was concerned, the world evolved around her and what she wanted and what she thought and it didn’t matter what came out of her mouth, she was entitled.

She is not an isolated incident. I’ve been running into this more and more. It has been bugging me for a long time and then it hit me why someone would be so assertive to the point that they crush anyone else’s viewpoint.

They get away with it.  The more they get away with it, the more they do it. They act this way because they hate themselves and their lives so much that they lash out at anyone who doesn’t back down. Why? Because if they can take others down to their own level, it will justify their bad behavior.

It’s a very sick and twisted cycle and the more you let someone get away with it, the more they will do it.

If you actually liked yourself, you would feel no need to assert and dominate others. You would be happy and content with what other people think because you would have certainty about yourself and enough confidence to allow others to be who they are.

You want to feel better about yourself? Then stop treating others badly and having hissy fits over some imagined slight that probably never happened.

I also know when I hear someone adamant about not wanting drama in their lives, they are the first ones to dish it out, so you don’t fool me. I am just as guilty as the next person of being dramatic, but I work hard at not doing that. There are scars on my tongue from biting it and you might want to try doing that if you always feel the need to assert yourself.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes right down to it, most people don’t really care what you think. That’s a harsh reality, but if you can get your wits around it, you’ll actually be able to relax and not have everything be a battle. The people who do care about you will want to know what you think.

Good rule of thumb is not to say what you think unless you are asked.

No one is entitled to anything. Not me, not you. You are not owed anything just because you woke-up and got out of bed. I don’t care who you are.

You are not entitled to a paycheck unless you earn it.

You are not entitled to a successful relationship unless you earn it.

Your employer does not owe you anything just because you showed up for work.

You are not entitled to hurt or harm people with your words and actions. Ever. I don’t care how badly someone may be acting; you don’t get to harm them back. Treat them with as much respect as you can and then walk away. Sever the relationship if you want, but do not get dramatic.

If you care about yourself, you’ll take the high road as often as possible.

In the meantime? Yeah, you got it. Shut-up.

We have a saying in sales that I think comes from Zig Ziglar:

     “You don’t get the close you don’t ask for.”

These words are true, not only for sales, but for probably all areas in life. If you don’t know what you want, you are going to have a tough time getting it. If you don’t demand what you want, you’ll never get it.

I am not talking about demanding something in an offensive or rude way, but you should always be direct and clear in what you want and what you don’t want.

Are you demanding self-respect from yourself and others? If not, it ain’t ever gonna happen. Yes, I am using those words and style intentionally to make a point. When you demand something, you are insisting on it and it’s not negotiable. How you allow others to treat you is a direct reflection on how you look and feel about yourself.

I remember in High School how what other people felt and thought about me caused me to define myself. Personally, I think this is a very common trait and I would rather eat insects, raw, then go through High School again. It was not a good time for me and looking back, I don’t think it was a good time for anyone except for the perfect looking cheerleaders that pranced around the school in their cute uniforms.

Yes, I am a bit bitter because I was twice their size with the wrong color and style of hair and no matter how many hours I spent the night before, putting it up in curlers and using tons of gel on it, by the end of the day it was no longer straight and looked like I had stuck my finger in a light socket. But they looked perfect and had the perfect boyfriends and drove the best cars and were the fussiest Diva’s I had ever seen prior to that time.

Plus they didn’t have acne and braces and God I’m going to stop thinking about this right now…

No wonder I took up smoking and hung-out with all the other misfits. It’s a wonder I didn’t do drugs or start drinking but I was always terrified of my parents finding out. So instead I hung-out with the kids that did and hoped their “coolness” would rub off on me by osmosis.

But the funny thing was, as much as I might have been just a wee bit jealous of the cheerleaders and all my ex-friends that seemed to have moved onto better and more interesting people who were SO much better looking than me, what really bothered me was they got away with it. It never entered their little pin heads that anyone would say “No” to them and if anyone did, I never saw it.

Some of them were quite nice and pleasant to me as we had all grown up together in the same neighborhood but in High School, new and invisible lines were drawn and you didn’t know about them unless you accidentally crossed one. I have a tendency to ignore lines and don’t appreciate anyone telling me what my own space is.

But I watched these lines changed and I made new friends in other places and I watched as my old friends morphed into people who would no longer talk to me and I saw their attitudes shift as they became more and more popular and I found my own sense of myself get fuzzy. Soon I was someone who was trying to get other people to like me.

This had never happened to me before. This was new and I didn’t like it and yet I couldn’t stop it.

I felt I had been dropped onto another planet and I didn’t know the customs or how things worked or who it was OK to talk to and who wasn’t. Now I was with people I had only known a short time and some of them were nice and some were not.  Most of them did drugs and drank but I didn’t and the ones that did were  bothered by my abstinence and would push me to do it.

At first I tried to pretend that it didn’t bother me and the more I did that, the less I liked myself. There was no particular defining moment as this was a gradual deterioration over many months. I was more interested in getting people to like me than I was on liking myself. Things were changing so fast that I never knew what I thought from day-to-day, and yet I was the one person people would come talk to.

I am a great listener at least. So I listened and talked and tried to make friends and I allowed them to treat me any way that they wanted. I figured if I did that, then they would like me and that would make me a good person and I didn’t need to worry about all the friends I had lost as High School sucked our souls away from us.

It all came to a head one night when I went out with someone. From the moment I left my house with him, he began to talk down to me. I didn’t say anything because he was popular and I was lonely. The whole night was a nightmare as I kept my mouth shut and said nothing. His verbal attacks were very subtle. The disrespect he showed me wasn’t obvious at all, so it was a gradual feeling of despair and hatred towards myself that began early in the evening.

But it suddenly erupted and took me by surprise.

It was such a silly thing. He said he didn’t like the way I flicked my cigarette and tried to show me the correct way to do it. I don’t know, for some reason that was the straw. I grabbed my cigarette back from him, said something about what he could do with it and got out of the car and started walking home.

The fact that my house was 20 miles away didn’t enter my mind at the time. I was more angry with myself than him. He watched me walk down that road and I guess he realized he had been rude and he came and got me and drove me home.

I didn’t say a word all the way back to my house. I didn’t say a word when I opened the car door or when I slammed it shut. But as soon as that door was closed I told him to never talk to me again and right then I knew this has all happened because I had allowed it and accepted it. I let people treat me the way they wanted. I justified THEIR bad behavior, but I was just as guilty as them because I never drew my own line and made it clear of the consequences if they crossed it.

And what the hell? People had drawn their own lines to me, so I figured tit for tat.

How people treat you is on you. It’s not on anyone else. Sure, someone can blind side you. This can happen to anyone.

But how to deal with it shows them, and yourself, how you feel about you.

Someone says something rude to you? Don’t accept that it’s alright for someone to do that. Either walk away or deal with it, but push them back across that line.

Your date is looking at other women? Get up and walk out and don’t look back. (This also applies to men, so if the woman you’re out with is acting like trailer trash and you don’t like it, be a gentleman but don’t ask her out again.)

You’re in a business meeting and someone says something inappropriate to you? Let them know they were out of  line. I don’t care how you do it, but do it.

How you first deal with disrespect sets up the rest of the relationship.

If you don’t demand it, you’ll never get it.

Start learning now and never stop. This doesn’t mean you have to go to school if you don’t want to or can’t afford it. It means to find things out for yourself and keep practicing at what you do and get better and better at it.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to feel good about yourself when you are being or acting stupid? No, really, have you ever felt good about yourself in moments like that? I sure haven’t but that is a good way to learn. You do or say something stupid, see that you did and then go find a better way to deal with it in the future.

You don’t learn about things from reading. I wish we did because then we would all be much happier. No, we learn by experience and our own observations. You know the sun rises every day, right? Well, did you learn that from reading it in a book or from observing it for yourself?

We learn by smacking into a brick wall, pulling back and rubbing our head and finding out that when we do that, it hurts. Some of us have to smack our heads against the wall a few times before we get it. I have survived many bruises on my forehead (and my butt from getting knocked down on it) before I thought “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t do that,” and figuring out another way around something.

I am also the person that if the sign says “Wet Paint,” I’m fine with that. But if it says “Wet Paint Do No Touch,” well, I have to go touch it to see for myself. I have to learn on my own and not because someone told me what was right to do and what was wrong to do. If it’s really wet, then I know it. If it’s no longer wet, then I know that too.

There are also the people who just keep banging their heads against the brick wall and blame others for it. We call these people “victims” and I wouldn’t give them too much attention. They like it.

You are responsible for your own knowledge. No one else is. You know what you know because you said so. It doesn’t have to agree with anyone else. In fact, if you look at the title of this blog again, you’ll probably get a good idea of my opinion of anyone who tries to tell me or others how things are or how to think and behave.

I will only agree to the things that I know for myself to be true and I think we all need to find our own truths no matter what anyone says. You need to find your own truth, whatever it is and then say that it is.

If you don’t understand what someone is telling you, tell them that and have them explain it to you until you understand. It doesn’t matter who it is, a boss, a teacher, a co-worker or a friend. Don’t go along with things that don’t make sense to you. Question and learn. Those that care about you will help you. Those that don’t, try to push their agenda on you. That usually indicates it’s a hidden agenda. Find out and if they won’t tell you, then walk away.

Read and then read some more. Evaluate everything you read and decided if you agree or not. You can accept or reject anything you want. Then go see if what you just read is true for you. If someone tells you a certain race or culture is bad, go find out for yourself. Go look and talk to the people and see what you see. Make your own decisions because those are the things that will give you knowledge. Your own observation is the only thing that is of value in learning.

Do you really want to look and act like everyone else? Since when did someone else’s opinion have more importance than your own? It has as much importance as you give it. Ignore it. Don’t try to learn from anyone that you don’t respect even if someone tells you that you should respect them. So what if they are a relative or rich or famous? That doesn’t mean you have to like or respect them. Be with people who you admire and learn from them.

List out all the things you would like to know more about. It doesn’t matter what they are as long as they are things you want to learn about. Then go find out more about those things.

List out all of the things you need to improve upon and start increasing your competency. If you are having trouble with something at work, get someone to help you be better at it. Know that you can be better.

List out some of the stupidest things you’ve ever done and then write down what you learned from them.  I have a long list and it makes me laugh now. At the time I did some of these things, it wasn’t so funny.

Find someone who could use your help in becoming more capable in an area and help them do that. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you are teaching someone to be better at what they do.

You are as valuable as you want to be. You are as smart as you want to be.

Let me know everything you learned this week.

Self-esteem. Lesson #3

First of all, thanks again for all your emails and correspondence. It’s nice to know that this is helping some of you and I appreciate the feedback.

So now you’ve decided to have self-esteem and should be taking responsibility for it.

Most excellent!

Now the next step is to be well and healthy.

I’ll wait while you stop screaming because that’s pretty much the reaction I have when I hear anyone talk about health. Then they start babbling  on about weight loss and exercise and right around that point I start looking for some cake or cookies to eat.

I find them and I eat them as I sneer. Childish, yes, but it makes me feel better, damn it!

As far as I’m concerned, all of us have been heavily betrayed by the medical and health fields because if they were doing their job, more of us would be healthier and taking less drugs.

But that’s not the case. We as a nation diet more than any other country and we are also the most overweight people in the world. You can research it yourself, but here’s a start:

What does this have to do with self-esteem? It has a lot to do with it because it is very hard to feel good about yourself if you aren’t taking care of yourself and don’t feel well. I personally have a much better attitude about myself and life in general when I physically feel well and energetic.

There’s no need to buy another book on dieting; we have too many as it is. We know we shouldn’t eat sugar and carbs and we need to exercise. The human body was not made to sit for long periods of time watching TV (which hopefully you are no longer doing or have cut it way down) or sitting in front of a monitor all day long.

The human body was designed to procreate and burn energy. It’s meant to move, run, jump and basically keep moving until its exhausted and then it’s designed to sleep.

All you need to do is keep moving. Cut out the junk food as best as you can. If you are sick, seek medical care and keep moving. Put better food in you and throw away your scale. You know when you feel good and when you don’t.

I took me many years to find a sane way of eating and it’s simple. Protein and good carbs. No sugar but I do break this rule on the weekends. I’m against being a slave to my body and how it looks but if it doesn’t feel well, then I don’t feel so good about myself. Sort of a no brainer, but some things just need to be said.

I’ve had some success with clients on just making the changes above. It’s not a big deal and nor should you make it into one. Just watch what you eat as best as you can. I want you to try this for the coming week and if it works for you, keep doing it:

1)      Cut out all sugar and bad carbs but this comes with a warning: You might go through some withdrawal such as getting a headache, feeling achy and tired. You might also find yourself with some intense cravings for them. That’s OK. Just keep telling yourself you are healing.

2)      Throw away the damn scale. Pick it up and run to the trash can and toss it. Have a farewell party for it if you need to, but dump it and dump it now.

3)      Remember that all the self-esteem you want is already there inside you. It may be buried deep or it may be right on the surface, but it’s there. We are just slowly removing the layers of what gets in the way of it, step-by-step.

4)      Be more physically active. This can be as simple as walking around the block or going to the gym. It doesn’t matter as long as your increase your activity level and decrease the times you are sitting.

5)      Go help someone. Find someone who needs help and give it to them. This could be helping someone carry groceries to checking in on a neighbor who is lonely. Whenever I start to feel a bit sorry for myself, I do this and it makes me feel better about myself.

6)      Stop complaining and whining if you’ve gotten into this bad habit. Keep a smile on your face and sit down and write down all the things that are right about you. Some people call it counting your blessings and it’s a good thing to do once in awhile. Email them to me if you’d like or leave them as a comment on my blog.

7)      For the next week, I want you to practice something. I want you to be as kind to people as you can. Every day when you wake up, tell yourself that you will be as kind as possible and do it. Then at the end of the day, write down how your day went. Do this every day for a week along with everything else you are working on and let me know how you feel after that.

I’ll tell you a little secret and that is, self-esteem and self-respect has nothing to do with the way people treat you. People will treat exactly as you want them to. If you don’t feel you are worth the effort, then so be it. If you are unkind to people, it’s only because you aren’t BEING kind to yourself and others. So what if someone is rude to you? Maybe they are dealing with too much that day or maybe they just lost a child or maybe they’re just mean. Whatever the reason, cut them some slack and try to be kind to them.

When you are unkind to people, if comes right back at you. This doesn’t mean you allow people to take advantage of you or allow them to harm you. It means that you grant them the right to be who they are and continue on. Take the high road as often as possible and treat others the way you want to be treated.

Try this as best as you can and keep a log.

What have you got to lose? Maybe a bad attitude is all, right?

OK, hopefully by now you’ve done the first lesson – deciding to have self-esteem.

If you have done that, then good for you. If you haven’t, go back and read the first lesson and when you’ve done that, come back to this one. Based on the emails I’ve been receiving (and I think I’m caught up on all of my responses) many of my readers are enjoying this and have all ready noticed a big difference. I am always glad to hear this and to hear from you. Please keep them coming.

Now we go onto lesson #2 and it’s simple:

Take responsibility for your self-esteem

Sounds easy, right? Well, in theory it is but what I’ve come to learn and realize is that this is 24/7. When I use the word responsibility, I’m not talking about feeling bad or shameful or having the viewpoint that this is something you “just have to do because someone said so,” or anything along those lines.

What it means is accepting the fact that it is up to you to have it or not have it. It is a self-determined action you take because you want to and for no other reason than that.

Besides, who says you must have a reason for anything? You don’t. You can do something just because you want to.

Remember, you’re the only one that can give away or take back your self-esteem. No one else has that power over you but you. Self-esteem is only about how you feel and respect yourself. If it is high, then your actions will show it. The same is true if it is low.

Many years ago, I made some changes that actually helped me to feel better about myself. You might want to do them also and see if it helps you.

1)      Stopped buying and reading women’s magazines.

I grew up reading magazines for teenagers. I was fascinated by make-up and hair styles and clothes. Unfortunately for me at the time, I looked the exact opposite of what was fashionable. At that time, everyone wanted straight blonde hair. I have curly and unruly black hair.

I spent most of my teenage years with large curlers in my hair with a cap. This complimented the braces, headgear and acne cream that was slathered all over my face. The 30 extra pounds I was carrying was just a bonus.

At that time, Yardley was the most popular brand and eventually Twiggy arrived on the scene and the excessive dieting started. As hard as I tried, there was nothing I could do about my hair. It was hopeless, but my whole life was devoted to straightening it and then avoiding any and all situations that would make my hair frizz. This meant never going to San Francisco unless I could tie my hair back. I lived in the pool as a child but the moment I decided I wanted to look like everyone else, I stopped going and the few times I did go, I made sure not to get my hair wet.

Yes, it is possible to go swimming without getting your hair wet. It’s very difficult and requires a tremendous amount of maneuvering and staying away from anyone who might splash you. I became very good at treading water in an attempt to look super cool.

I hated getting out of the pool and would rush back to the lounge chairs and try to cover up what my brothers referred to as “thunder thighs” while at the same time feeling quite envious of the thin, tan and blonde girls.

But I was reading these magazines all the time along with every romance novel I could find. I was convinced that if I just bought the next product I would be the way they said I was supposed to be.

I kept this up until my mid-30’s when I realized that I had been reading the same articles for years. Sure, it was a different name of the product but the message was the same – “You’ll never be good enough until you a) buy this product or b) wear this outfit or c) look exactly like these models.”

The reason these models get paid so much is because NO ONE looks like them. I starved myself. I got up every morning and jogged in the dark with my Mom and a neighbor. I drank diet sodas, stopped eating sugar and no matter what I did or how much weight I lost, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough.

Why? Was it because of what the magazines and TV shows were telling me? Not really, though they aren’t much help because in order to sell you something they first have to make you feel like you need to change something about yourself.

No, I felt this way because I agreed with them. I held the magazines and TV shows up as the right way to be for me. I decided that they knew who and what I should be and as long as I kept buying into it, they would continue to sell it.

There wasn’t a particular moment of clarity for me but I do remember the last magazine I bought. I don’t even remember the name of it, but I felt myself feeling worse and worse about myself until I threw it across the room and watched it hit the wall and fall to the floor.

I was done and I haven’t looked back since.

I also stopped worrying about how I looked or what I weighed. Instead I researched and concentrated on my health and let the weight go where it wanted to go.

I disagreed completely and totally with all of it.

I let my hair be curly and I wore what I liked and what I could afford.

Then I did the next thing:

2)      Stopped watching TV.

This is a hard one for most. At the time, we didn’t have the internet and I would watch a movie once in a while, but I stayed away from any form of entertainment that I thought was stupid and mindless. I would read a book or call someone and the few times I would sit in front of the TV, I would be very selective about what I watched. I would still be envious of the perfect women with perfect clothes and make-up and hair, but now I was aware that it made me feel bad about myself. When that happened I would:

3)      Find something I liked about myself.

This could be anything from my smile to my curly hair to my uneven jaw. It didn’t matter just as long as I found something that I liked. It works every time.

So when we are talking about taking responsibility for yourself, it is acknowledging the fact that you control how you feel about yourself and all of your actions. It’s also admitting that outside influences affect us and deciding to either not let them or disagreeing with them to such an extent that we remove them from our lives.

I strongly suggest staying away from anyone or anything that makes you feel less than great about yourself.

In summary, try doing the following this week:

1)      Don’t buy or read another woman’s magazine.

2)      Turn off the TV and internet and find something else to do like reading, writing, walking. Anything except watching TV.

3)      Everyday write down one or more things that you like about yourself.

4)      Email it to me and let me know how you are doing.

I have the utmost faith and confidence in you. Disagree with anyone who tells you who you should be or how you should look. They don’t know what they are talking about.

Even me if you think so. How you feel about yourself is senior to anyone else. What you think is what you think and you don’t need anyone’s approval. Not now. Not ever.