I'm a retired psychologist living in the beautiful Blue Mountains in Australia with my partner and two cats.
My life and career path have been anything but straightforward, starting as a metallurgist in the steel industry, becoming a potter, working as an academic in the creative arts, then as a psychologist in private practice and now a professional marketer.
I've always been a people person, working to help people to make changes to live better.
Now I mentor people in small business development.
That’s a difficult question to answer. It’s designed to make you think about your ‘self’. What is a ‘self’? Your self is a bit like your fingerprints – nobody else in the world has the same ‘self’ as you. Your self is your individuality, your uniqueness, and the way you experience life and all its experiences.
Self-esteem issues plague many people. Even those who might seem as though they “have it all together” can still suffer from low self-esteem occasionally – or chronically. These down and negative views of oneself can be quite damaging to the psyche and the overall health of the person. While esteem problems can be troublesome, they do not have to be debilitating. You can find ways to improve your self-esteem and become a stronger and happier person for it. The information included in this blog can help you to boost your self-esteem and help you understand just what it is that is causing you to feel the way you do.
We can all have insecurities about our personal value. We judge and compare ourselves and often put ourselves down as a result. Everyone is guilty of this at some point. Every one of us, male or female, young or old, makes comparisons with others from time to time. Whether you are wondering why your stomach is not as flat as a celebrity’s stomach, or why you did not get the same attention as someone else at work when you got your hair cut, or why you don’t have as much money as your brother, comparisons slip into our minds. When we compare, what we are really doing is accepting and embracing negative thoughts. You have to stop trying to build your life around the ideals of who someone else is! Trying to change yourself so much that you are trying to become another person is madness. What you need to do is work on becoming the best you possible!
I don’t see many animals indulging in such destructive behaviour. As a psychologist, nearly every client I see is telling me, in some way or another, that he doesn’t like himself, or she doesn’t like some part of her personality or appearance. We are able to do this because we have a self-concept. This is a part of the human condition.
“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”
When things go wrong in our lives and we can’t find ready answers, it’s easier if we have something on which to lay the blame, especially if it involves our emotions. It may be that after the death of a parent our grieving seems to endlessly drag things up that are far deeper than the loss of a loved one. It may be that our poor self-esteem appears to tumble from one depth to an even deeper level of inexplicable self-loathing. In such cases, it seems to help us when we can talk about a ‘something’ rather than a ‘nothing’. The word ‘gremlin’ is a useful term, because it describes some sort of invisible being that rattles around at the back of our minds as a mischievous troublemaker.
The gremlin came into use during World War II to describe an imaginary imp, said to be responsible for mechanical troubles in aircraft. Today gremlins seem to have a far wider application and may be blamed for causing all manner of things, including our ‘phobias’, our ‘clinical depression’, or our ‘poor self-esteem’. The hard evidence of their existence in our mental health is no more real than for the original gremlins in the aircraft.
However, they can be useful when we need to say, ‘it’s not really my fault’ or, ‘there are parts of my life I can’t explain’ or, ‘there are parts of my life over which I have no control’.
Acknowledging our ‘gremlins’ can be the first step to emotional healing. The next step is to find someone qualified to discuss your issues with – a counsellor, a psychologist, a trusted friend. For some people there is still a certain amount of stigma around ‘going to a counsellor’ but ignoring the elephant in the room won’t make it go away.
Most clients I have seen over the past 30 years, whatever their reason for seeking therapy, were talking about underlying issues of poor self-esteem.
A low self-image undermines relationships, leads to drug and alcohol dependence, can cause anxiety and depression, affects job performance, creates loneliness and so on. Topics I’ll cover in this blog will touch on some aspects of being human that can be changed through deliberate effort.
Mindfulness, relationship building, forgiveness, gratitude, meditation, goal-setting, self-hypnosis, mental stocktaking and stress management are all simple approaches to living well.
Maybe starting here with some Andrew Matthews philosophy.
Managing change is always a challenge. Because we are creatures of habit, new beginnings require a shift in our thinking and we are often jogged back into having to draw on our resources, mental and emotional, to manage the new situation.
Retirement for me has been like that. Overnight, my identity changed from ‘professional person’ to ‘who am I now?’ and how do I learn the new rules. Even after 30 years of teaching clients about change management, I didn’t really have all the answers I needed.
Journalling has always been a useful tool to self-analyse, so blogging is the next e-level that I’ve decided to embark on to share some of my thoughts on the next leg of the journey.
Stay tuned for my tips on living well, with a special focus on personal development.