Owing mostly to the proliferation of the ‘self help’ genre . . . books . . . seminars . . . chat shows . . .
a relatively new phenomena is plaguing many people's consciousness.
My colleagues and I call it ‘New Age Guilt’.
And what is worse . . . it can seriously devastate self esteem and eat into our feelings of confidence.
I know, I know, you want to know if you've ‘got’ it . . . and whether you have or not, how you should be avoiding it.
And this is precisely my point.
The world of marketing has managed to convince us that we are vulnerable to just about any affliction - or that without some ‘product’ (that they of course happen to be marketing), we are somehow not completely fulfilled.
(Hey I'm a marketer too . . . don't think I don't know the tricks! Of course how you use them for good in the world is the real key to positive karma. )
So even as I tell you that you may be suffering from ‘New Age Guilt', you might already be thinking about the terrible consequences this could have on your life/family/marriage/relationships/finances. Simply because we have been conditioned to think that way.
OK so far . . . now let's take the case of someone who is having a little trouble in life. Not feeling too good about themselves or their present situation, they look for help. Self help perhaps.
And after a little research - maybe in the local bookstore, on the ‘net, watching a little Oprah, they come to the conclusion that they ‘have’ low self esteem.
Now instead of the relief you think they might feel at finding the supposed cause to their problem, things start to go downhill from here. The first onset of New Age Guilt begins to creep in.
Because now, they research a little further still and are variously told by experts that self esteem is largely self produced.
Hmmm, needs a little more research . . . um, exactly how is it ‘self produced'?
Well you see, “thought is creative" (true). “And from our thoughts spring our reality" (hmmm, but do go on . . . ). "So our current reality is created by our own selves" (It is? Wow. ).
“And you need to ‘take responsibility’ for what you have created" (You what? Are you saying I did this to myself?).
“In fact, you created this mess . . . so you better shape up and work out what ‘baggage’ you must be carrying; then once you clear it out, everything will be fine".
Oh no. It's all my fault.
I should have known it was all my fault. I created this mess. I'm not really a very good person, I made everything bad around me and what's worse I don't even know how I did it.
I'm awful. What am I going to do? I don't feel good, I've got low self esteem and I've just found out it's all my own fault.
Inspiring isn't it?
Yet I've personally known people who have totally taken this on board as ‘the truth’ and then use it to beat themselves up even further.
“OH NO, YOU'RE MAKING IT WORSE!", I silently yell to them, because if I point out they've taken on a flawed belief (That “I am responsible for everything around me"), they'll feel EVEN WORSE!
But it does make ones life as a coach or counselor somewhat difficult.
Because to first work with low self esteem - and indeed low self confidence - one needs to empower the person to find some light at the end of the tunnel, to open their own door just a crack and to like what they see inside . . . and not the opposite!
So how to do this?
Well I believe in two key approaches.
I learned this from a self esteem colleague, Jack Canfield (perhaps better known for his ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’ series).
Jack says: "Stuff Happens"
"But it's how you RESPOND to it that matters. "
Who cares who ‘created it', whose ‘baggage’ it is, whether it means I am a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person.
Find a way to take action and respond and you'll feel a whole lot better.
Swim around in the agony of your guilt about creating it and you'll feel a whole lot worse. New Age Guilt. A whole self help industry is built on it.
The second is to re-condition yourself to believe that the way you are right now is totally OK.
THERE IS NOTHING ‘WRONG’ WITH YOU!
We all need to accept that everything we say and do is based upon the fact that we are doing the best we can with what we know. It's all you can ever do.
Do not underestimate the power of affirmations.
The next time you find yourself being drawn into feeling unworthy or low in confidence because you might have some new-fangled ‘syndrome’ or are lacking in some vital product, say to yourself:
"I am perfect the way I am right now. "
“I accept myself the way I am right now. "
“At any given moment, I am doing the best I can. "
Focus on your own continued improvement.
What skills can you learn to grow, develop and maximize your range of positive emotions and positive thoughts?
THAT is how to raise self esteem.
Now go and do something to feel good. Call someone, kiss someone, make someone's day.
Have a great day!
© 2005, Robert Scanlon, selfesteemplus
Robert Scanlon is a corporate consultant, NLP Trainer, and the author of “Boost Your Self Esteem To New Heights", a free 21-day online Building Self Esteem and Self Confidence Course and 35-page eBook. You can sign up for the course at http://www.selfesteemplus.com/ .