Whack-a-Mole Self-Esteem

Have you ever had one of those weeks or months when it seems nothing goes right? No matter what you do, failure is just around the corner? Nobody seems to care about you until you begin making some improvement and they come running over to push you back down — like a life-sized game of whack-a-mole..

Does this ever describe you? It certainly describes me.

oI struggle with extremely low self-esteem and subsequent depression. As a result of this, I put too much emphasis on what others think about me. In fact, while writing this, I’m concerned that you, dear reader, will think even less of me now that I have disclosed this dark secret. Nevertheless: I feel it important to share this in case it might help someone else.

The recent prominence in the media regarding celebrity suicide has brought about an increased awareness of the effects of depression. The truth is, many who are depressed fail to demonstrate any symptoms publicly. In fact, many of the funniest or seemingly happiest people we know suffer extreme forms of depression.

The fact is, depression is a disease … it’s not something somebody can just “snap out of”. Nobody intentionally chooses to become depressed. It occurs over time and governs huge portions of one’s life. Like a cancer, depression attaches itself to other negative factors (negative self image, low self-esteem, withdrawal from friends, reckless behavior, etc.) which increases the negative effects in the individual until life becomes unbearable and there seems to be no relief available.

I know this post doesn’t sound very positive — after all, the name of the site is Turning Positive. The fact is, sometimes life has some negative factors and we simply have to face them and deal with them. There is a positive aspect though even with this subject. …there are caring people available to help. Counselors can work with us to help us understand ways we can cope with these feelings and even work to improve our self-image. Additionally, if a chemical imbalance exists, physicians can work with you to provide the appropriate materials to help correct the imbalance.

It is important to realize that the depression and the associated issues didn’t occur overnight and we shouldn’t expect an immediate cure. Rather, healing from depression is a journey. For my journey, I find that focusing on my faith helps me through these times. The scriptures describe God as ”a friend who is closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). That is very comforting when I feel abandoned.

As with this week, just when I’m starting to feel a little better about myself, something happens to knock me down and shatters my self image. When that occurs, I begin feeling like I am drowning in an ocean of self contempt and while there are many people watching me be swept away in the current, nobody is interested in throwing me a lifeline. This of course is irrational as there are people who care – my emotions simply cloud this fact.

Indeed, my progress can often be defined with the lyrics of the old country and western song that describes someone who takes “one step forward and two steps back.” However, as long as I keep getting back up and continue to put one foot in front of the other, I figure I’m making progress.

Author: jcparry

I graduated with a Master of Human Relations degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2012.  I am in the process of completing my doctorate degree in developmental psychology.  One of the core research focuses of my doctoral program is the power of positive perspective … even the power of a simple smile. I not only researched this information through my doctoral schoolwork, I continue to try to live this model.  In February of 2016, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  Throughout 2016, I progressed through 6 chemotherapy infusion treatments, 5 months of experimental chemotherapy, and 20 sessions of radiation.  On October 17, 2016, I was declared in full remission!  I completely attribute this recovery to the healing of Jesus Christ.  Three important components that made the treatment and recovery a bearable experience were my faith, the support of friends and family, and my decision to maintain a positive perspective.  I admit that early in my cancer treatment, I was feeling sick, terrified, and depressed — looking in the mirror would instantly bring me to tears.  I continued to pray and read the scriptures and I found a number of scriptures that really spoke to me.  These scriptures explained the importance of placing faith in God and finding joy even in the terrible times.  It was at that point that I made the seemingly ludicrous decision to find the positive in my situation.  Yes, it was difficult and required me to step outside of my circumstances and consider why was I going through this and what I was to learn from this experience. Initially, it was awkward and felt ingenuine.  However, I continued to focus on positive things ... appreciating a sunrise, a trip away from the house for a couple of hours, or even the song of the birds on the back porch.  I quickly discovered that I felt better!  This is an area where I can happily confirm that the research suggesting even a simple smile has incredible healing power.  So, if you have been wondering, what type of nut suggests that we should find the positive in every situation and focus on that positive, you’ve now met him :).

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