We are in trouble when we’re meeting our needs for self-esteem or personal fulfillment through a limited number of external sources.
If we need certain relationship feedback to feel good, if that’s the ONLY WAY we can feel good…it’s a problem.
If we need certain professional feedback to feel good, if that’s the ONLY WAY we can feel good…it’s a problem.
These are problems not only because those external sources of feedback may not always be available…but also because our self-esteem suffers when we get obsessed with certain sources of feeling good.
Our self-esteem is not dumb.
It knows when we are desperately seeking or clinging to certain sources of external gratification, not because we just REALLY LIKE those sources of gratification…but because we know we don’t have anything as a backup that can help us feel good and worthy.
Our self-esteem watches us desperately scramble to make certain relationship or professional experiences happen…and it gets sad.
It goes down.
So what we wind up with is not only insecurity about our needs for enjoyment and fulfillment getting met…but a pervasive feeling that we simply can’t handle life.
If we’re going to create stable, high self esteem, we need to create a life worth living.
A life that includes a VARIETY of potentially reinforcing experiences…as opposed to having piled all our eggs into one basket.
A life that allows us to do well at some things, but not as well at other things…because we’re not depending on any one thing for too much of our feelings of worth.
As a rule, when in doubt: expand.
Try more things.
Try different things.
Don’t limit yourself to the same types of projects, interests, or connections just because they feel familiar or you know you’re good at them.
Building a life worth living involves trying new things…and, yes, failing at some of them.
It’s NOT about finding your “one thing,” that you’ll do over and over and over again for the rest of your days.
So many people pressure themselves to find their “one thing.”
Which is a bummer, insofar as not only is that not necessary…it’s counterproductive to developing genuine self-esteem.
When we develop a variety of ways to feel good, our anxiety goes down.
When we develop a variety of ways to feel good, we begin to relax.
We begin to actually enjoy the things we do…because the stakes are a little lower.
EVERY experience isn’t make-or-break, as a source of self-esteem or enjoyment.
When you limit your potential ways to feel good, you necessarily put pressure on yourself to excel at those things…or else you’re left with nothing, because you failed to formulate a Plan B.
In a practical sense, what this means is: get curious.
Think about what MIGHT provide you with enjoyment.
Thank about what MIGHT provide you with fulfillment.
And then watch your own reaction to potentially stepping outside of your comfort zone.
It might be scary, yes.
But it also might—just might— be interesting and exciting.
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