Being your own best friend!

by LDH 16 Replies latest jw friends

  • LDH

    Tonight while reading Sheila M's post about Thunder's parents not even saying anything nice to him when he got his book published, put me in mind of something I've been thinking for a while.

    Today, all you hear about is "Self-Esteem" this and "Self-Esteem" that---a lack of it causes everything from suicide to eating disorders and everything in between. I believe concerned parents today are much more in tune with rewarding postitive behavior by reinforcing it through praise.

    As a JW child, what special assaults on your self-esteem did you suffer and how did you deal with it?

    In short, are you your own best friend? I'll be back to add my two cents later.


  • Introspection

    To me a better question is not how much self-esteem there is but what is the self that you have esteem for? I only see it as meaningful if it is qualified rather than a quantified thing, something along the lines of having a lot of good feelings is just not that meaningful. I'm good at some things, I'm not so good at others - I don't really bother coming up with some kind of judgement good or bad. I would think at some point we have to move beyond being motivated by positive reinforcement. Don't get me wrong, I do nice things for myself, but I don't really think of that as any kind of reward, I just go out and do it - in fact I don't have to wait for anything to be done so it isn't a reward, I just enjoy nice things. I know you don't mean this literally, but all the same I can't think of myself as my best friend, because there is only one of me. I live with myself quite nicely though - since there's just one of me I'm alone, but not lonely. It's just fine.

    "I'm good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!" -Stuart Smally

  • DJ

    I am my own worst enemy most of the time. My husband is my best friend on earth. As a kid, I just felt I was in the way and one more person who added to the laundry. I was scared most of the time but I hid it well. We were yelled at and called names when we were growing up. I knew that I wasn't as bad as they thought but I wanted to be loved more. I knew that my dad loved me but he had this hot headed temper and I never knew what to expect. My mom was just busy and had no time for me. I was my own best friend as a child because I knew my own heart. I knew that I didn't mean to put the dirty chocolate milk cup in the dishwasher with the clean dishes. I knew that I had to lie sometimes so that I wouldn't be beaten. I knew that if they knew how much I loved them that they would never treat me way that they did. My husband had a similar upbringing and we relate to the feeling of being unworthy of their love. It still hurts sometimes. The jwism has made it just unbearable. I have learned to like myself and keep in mind that I didn't need praise as a kid. I just wanted to be loved. LDH, I almost feel naked here!! love, dj

  • Introspection

    I just wanted to be clear that I'm simply offering another way to look at this issue, I'll try to sum it up here:

    Basically, since people speak of low self-esteem vs. high, to me this just implies judgement. All I'm saying is drop all of that and accept yourself as you are, unconditionally.

    If someone was to say something that is intended to put me down or something, my response now is not one of defense or offense or even feeling bad or upset, it's that they basically don't know what they're talking about. If they did know what they're talking about they would mention something specific, but any kind of personal attack designed to elicit an emotional response is pretty much empty of content.

    I think we can see how this even applies to parents - isn't it true that when they get older in age sometimes the children has to take care of them, because the parents have become more like children? I think often times it doesn't even have to get to that point - when you've gone through your own growth you just come to see that they don't really know what they're talking about, and in that case there's no reason for it to affect your self-esteem anyway.

  • LyinEyes

    You asked what assults on your self esteem did you have as a child......... I wont go into it all, as I am just now starting to see alot of what happened, for the first time myself.

    But I can say,,,,,, I had too much put on such small shoulders as a child. I had to be as near perfect as possible or face the disappointment from my dad. I dont think I was ever allowed to be a child....... I dont think anyone ever said to me, that kids make mistakes it is ok, we will work it out. Instead I was made to feel ashamed , made to feel responsible for making my parents sad, or for the fights they had.

    Just remembering all the things I felt, memories like flashes of pictures that come back to me,,,, I dont know how I have come to be such a good friend to myself as I have. I actually like myself, I give myself plenty of slack where I fall short, I am beginning to trust myself , my feelings.

    I really think that my husband's encouragement and constant reassurance has finally made a dent that I am a good person, and that the world is not going to fall apart , even when at times I do. I have learned to let myself be not nearly perfect and I am not in a constant state of pain, worry, anxiety, and stomach ulcers.

    I also think by having my own children , who I am raising to be free thinkers, and I am letting them have their childhoods and I never burden them with things that will make them question if they are good enough. I tell them all the time they are perfect just the way they are,,,,,,,,even if they act like monsters, and they know they do,,, I wouldnt want them any other way. At least I can see the free, independant spirit in them , that I think I had deep inside of myself as a child, otherwise I might not have made it thru it all.

    I think that I have let myself have the childhood I didnt get back some ways. Mainly by not being too hard and critical of myself , and learning to love myself now as an adult, All children should love themselves and think they are special, if they dont , they will never love themselves as adults.

    It is really sad that so many of us exjws, are just now learning to be our own best friend.

    Many of us had parents with so many problems, they only thought of themselves and drug the kids thru the mud with them. Then the WT told our parents how to discipline us, how to give us the tough love that really is not always necessary, and that we shouldnt love ourselves at all. It was engrained in our head to love Jehovah so much that there was little left for anyone or anything eles. The WT always loves to use the word balance. They give that word lip service , they dont know the meaning of it.

    I have enjoyed this last year getting away from the JW and my old ways of thinking, and torturing myself as I was taught to do. I dont have to answer for every little thing I dont do anymore, I dont have to answer to men in bethel anymore, and I dont have to listen to elders coming by my house and telling me I am not doing enough..........translated you are letting us down, you are letting Jehovah down etc.

    It is a great feeling to see all of that for what it really was, and that it wasnt you afterall who was not worthy of happiness, and that now,,,,,,,,,, you dont have to listen to it anymore. I know I am happier than I have ever been because I can be the real me,,,,,,,,,at least what I know of myself so far.

  • SloBoy

    Hey Introspection,

    Are you a Stuart Smalley fan? Every year or so, we have a few friends over for food and a "Stuart Saves His Family" viewing. Lots of laughs and tears.

  • freedom96

    The WTS does absolutely nothing to help people have a positive self image.

    Well, it really makes sense though. If the rank and file have a good self image, they won't need the WTS, and also possibly leave because they will know that they are worthy of making decisions for themselves, and worthy of doing research for themselves too.

  • larc


    I don't really buy anything written here. My life has had it's share of shit, just like yours, so, get on with it. Stop
    complaining and just live, for Christ's sake.

    Is it my intent to piss you off? You bet it is!

  • LDH

    Hi Larc, everyone....

    Larc, not sure where you were going with that comment, but I'll add my two cents here.

    This thread is not meant to be a bitchfest, altho it might turn into that. It was meant to question whether childhood experiences would affect how that person felt about THEMSELF, not about others.

    I kind of feel like Intro does; that is, self-esteem is not a magic wand waved over your head, but rather the self-satisfaction you feel at a certain point in your life. I believe that a positive self-image comes from actions and choices one makes.

    For instance, I find that I've developed a really tough exterior. I am rather used to not needing "positive reinforcement." I once worked for MetLife in New York. I was considered one of the more dependable, problem solving types. Extremely high performer, one of management's favorites because I got things done without needing to be handheld. It wasn't until a co-worker complained that our manager never had a kind word to say about all of our hard work that I started to notice a pattern.

    Yep, all of my co-workers were complaining about our manager and it had gone right over my head. Which is probably, ironically, one of the reasons I was a "favored one." I'm working for another major carrier currently in a high-level position, and still don't need external reinforcement for a job well done. I have a high degree of personal satisfaction in my career, and even in my life. Some of my colleagues feel the need to be praised, constantly! I'm kind of like, that's what your paycheck is for, Dumb Ass.

    I don't think it's any secret, though, that congregants are rarely praised for all of their hard work but rather told to buckle down and get to the preaching HARDER! Sell more books, dammit! Whatever you do, it's never enough! I rarely heard a positive word regarding one's FAITH at the KH, but rather, based on the ACTIONS one exhibited. Articles in the publications rarely highlight what the "brothers" have been doing right, but you can guarantee at least one discouraging "Public Needs" talk per month.

    I think this had a lot to do with the formation of my Type A personality, and quite frankly, I find it rather odd that this lack of positive reinforcement early in my life has served me so well now.


  • Francois

    Larc, your response gives me the feeling that you are utterly unaware of the consequences of abuse when the abuse comes from a trusted family member or friend of the family, and the abuse is extreme; so extreme that the child's coping mechanism is totally overwhelmed.

    We did not understand much about post-traumatic stress syndrome until live-fire combatants began to return from Vietnam. Only then did we turn our most critical eyes toward gaining an understanding of the problem, and what we discovered was hundreds of times worse than we ever thought.

    Normal minded, intellectually and emotionally strong men were going over there and coming back one cut above vegetables, and they stayed that way for years. Even now, with advanced insight into the nature of the problem, it still can take several years to get that normal minded man to re-appear. And in this case, we are talking about trained adults.

    Larc, how do you say, "My life has had it's share of shit, just like yours, so, get on with it. Stop complaining and just live, for Christ's sake." to an 18 year old woman who was repeatedly raped by her father, uncle, brother, next door neighbor, grandfather, or priest or all of them, from the time she was 4 until she reached 14? I'd really like to know how someone in their right mind could say such a thing face to face to a victim of childhood sexual molestation.

    You don't usually deliver such thick-skinned, unfeeling crap to the board. I must chalk your comments up to a complete and total lack of insight and information into the nature and size of the problem.

    When the kind of child rape I'm talking about happens, the smartest of the little girls thus abused, run through an intellectual exercise that goes, "I cannot deny this is happening, but I CAN deny it's happening to me." Then the child splits off a new personality who takes the abuse. An amnestic barrier is built up around this new personality and usually the original little girl does not know of the existence of the alternate personality thus created. And when the abuse is of a continuing nature, more and more of these alternate personalities are formed. For years this phenomena was called Multliple Personality Disorder, now it's called Dissociative Identity Disorder. And it can persist for years, as it is a secret disorder. It was elaborated by the little girl to protect her self, her budding personality from further harm and no one is supposed to know. That's why the disorder takes so long to diagnose and treat.

    For example if a young woman goes in for counseling in college about dating guys, poor performance on tests, or whatever, it takes an averale of seven years to reach a diagnosis of DID. Then, after that, it can take more years of therapy 6, 10, 15, 20 years of intensive therapy to put all the pieces of the person suffering DID back together again. And they really do suffer, with intrusive recall phenomena in which they suddenly begin to relive in the present an episode of abuse from the past that had been supressed and "forgotten." It really wasn't forgotten. Every episode of abuse must be relived before they can be re-integrated. Sufferers of DID really are never the same as what they were going to be, but at least they can return to society as a functional adult.

    You say, "Stop complaining and just live, for Christ's Sake." I can't believe you'd even come near that statement if you knew what you were talking about. And it's apparent that you don't. These little girls (and to a lesser extent boys) don't know how to live, they're afraid to live, they can trust NO ONE. These people are hanging on by their fingernails, for some it's a daily fight to keep suicide at bay. Quite a few fail at keeping suicide at bay. Larc, I'd be willing to bet that at least one of your friends has DID and you know nothing about it at all. And there may be more. You just never know.

    So, please, it's one thing to be so hard on a known whiner. It's another entirely to come down like a ton of turds on a person who is like they are for reasons that are entirely justifiable and understandable. I have found that "Judge not..." is the best policy with people you don't understand and who don't act normally in any given high-stress situation. Think about it.


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