My son’s been going through a rough spell for the past two years. He’s struggling from poor self-image and extremely low self-esteem. Bottom line: he can’t seem to appreciate his many strengths. He’s so focused on the negative that it’s pulling him down, paralyzing him.
Right now, he’s focusing on everything that’s gone wrong in his life. When he compares himself to his peers, he consistently falls short.
Trouble is, the inner voice, that doubting Thomas that lives in all our brains, has taken control -- so much so that he can’t see or appreciate all the things he has achieved. Top on my list, he’s a loving, kind, and respectful son. He treats me and others with great kindness. His love for me is palpable. On a more personal level, goes out of his way to help me. When visiting me a few weeks ago, he helped cook and kept the kitchen clean – spotless!
He is fun to talk with and is generally a great conversationalist -- a remarkable attribute in a 23-year-old male hominid. What is more, he’s got great insight into life and is a genuine deep thinker. He understand more about life and living than I did at twice his age.
He’s a good musician, too. He plays the drums, guitar, and piano, and can improvise at the piano with considerable skill.
When he was in high school, he developed an interest in “muscle cars” like the Chevelle, Camaro, and GTO from the 1960s. He earned $7500 to purchase a Chevelle in which we put a new engine that we’d built. He read everything about cars and taught himself tons, so much so that he could hold down an intelligent conversation with just about anyone who knew cars.
My list of accolades could go on, but let me focus on the lesson in all this. First, I can sympathize with him. I spent a lot of years beating myself up for everything I wasn’t. A lot of us do.
As I pointed out in a previous blog, the key to a happy and successful life is to focus on the positive, what we do well. Even the little things count like kindness, courtesy, trust worthiness, helpfulness, cheerfulness, thrift, and bravery.
Shouldn’t the satisfactions of being a good person be enough to sustain us?
Quell the negative messages, that dastardly inner voice that incessantly tries to drag you down. It’s a liar and a thief! It would have you believe the worst of you and robs you of the joy of being good at what you are good at – and appreciating yourself for all that is good in you.
Let a new voice emerge, one that sees all that is good in you and all that you have to offer. You'll be much happier if you do.
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.