Words of Wisdom
All Roads Lead Us Back
All roads lead us back to one another, mother,
daughter, sister, woman, friend.
When we finally strip the world from all our faces,
we will see the mirror image once again.
Give thanks for who we are to one another.
Rejoice in all the glory we have found.
Look high above to find your own beginnings and
from your knees count your blessings when you are done.
For when the world has met its final hour, in the end
it will be as it began.
We will all be cast into one lasting sonnet and sing
in voice perfected once again.
So find peace within yourself and for your sisters.
Give comfort, love and hope to all in need.
Teach well the knowledge you have learned here,
sow a bounty with every tiny seed.
by Darla Walker
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Mothers Who Care
Self-esteem is a human condition. Although a topic of so much discussion and material, many continue to struggle with this area of our lives. Here's how you can develop a well-balanced sense of self-esteem.
There's a revolution going on. "It's a revolution within", so says author Gloria Steinem. In fact, that is the title of her bestseller, Revolution From Within, a book about self-esteem. In her preface she writes "The more I talked to men as well as women, the more it seemed that inner feelings of incompleteness, emptiness, self-doubt and self-hatred were the same, no matter who experienced them, and even if they were expressed in culturally opposite ways.
As I have visited and worked in various parts of the world, I've found the same thing to be true. The area of self-esteem is increasingly being explored and many solutions are found wanting. Even though this subject elicits interest and results in an abundance of discussion and material, many of us continue to struggle with this area of our lives. I have heard it said "There are five billion people in the world. There are five billion people who struggle with self-esteem." It is a human condition. Let's examine what self-esteem is and look at various ways we attempt to gain it.
WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?
It is possible to have proper self-esteem as we are rightly related to our creator, God. We were created with these deep needs for personal security and significance and God designed a way to meet those needs when we are rightly related to Him.
HOW DO WE OBTAIN PROPER SELF-ESTEEM?
Taking an honest look at yourself is often the best way to evaluate where you are and where you want to go.
HOW DO WE MAINTAIN A WELL-BASED SENSE OF SELF-ESTEEM?
We need a way of handling the little day-to-day setbacks in our sense of security and significance. It all starts with our thinking. We have to retrain ourselves to think of what is true about me.
WHAT IS SELF ESTEEM?
The most basic need all of us have is to have a sense of personal worth. This sense of personal worth has two elements: security and significance. Security means being loved and accepted just for who I am, regardless of what I do. This is what Gloria Steinem calls "core" self-esteem, and psychologists refer to as "global" self-esteem, being loved and accepted.
Significance means having meaning or purpose in my life, being adequate for what I do. Ms. Steinem refers to this as situational self-esteem. It's knowing that we are good at what we do. The problem is that we develop a series of false assumptions of what we think will meet our needs for security and significance. We usually learn these assumptions in childhood. If we don't experience unconditional love and acceptance as a child, we will experience pressure to have those needs met elsewhere. And if we aren't given a sense of competency and significance in childhood, we will also experience pressure to meet that need elsewhere.
The proper formation of security in childhood--this "intrinsical value"--can be affected by many things, and abuse at many levels is a growing problem. Living with constant ridicule, contempt and negativity can affect a child's security into adulthood. Perhaps you've overheard a parent criticizing a child. It's not just the words that are used, but also the tone of voice that can deeply affect the child.
A child hearing this continually internalizes the words and tone, and they can become part of her view of herself. The tape in her mind plays the messages back as significant information learned from her parents. Some parents put enormous pressure on their children to perform. Children in these situations often grow up to be overachievers with the voice of their parents' disapproval ringing in their ears. The child within is now inhabiting an adult body. What assumptions, as adult women in the '90s, do we hold on to?
As I mentioned, these basic assumptions are often begun as a child and are heavily influenced by our peer group. We can all develop wrong and false assumptions about how to have our needs met. The reason they are called false assumptions is because they do not give us unconditional love, acceptance, and firm significance in life. They give us a temporary sense of self-esteem.
Are any of the following false assumptions operating in your belief system?
I will be secure if:
+ I am in a loving relationship
+ I am never criticized
+ I am not rejected as a person
HOW ABOUT YOUR NEED FOR SIGNIFICANCE?
I will be significant if:
+ I excel at school
+ I excel when my projects are promoted
+ When I have financial success
+ When I am granted recognition by my peer group
Now, we as women all want to have these needs met and we will expend considerable energy to meet them. When we pour our energy into meeting our needs through pursuing false assumptions of what will meet those needs, we can be devastated when those assumptions don't lead to lasting security and significance. What will happen is that we will feel pressed to pour energy in other directions based on another false assumption of what will meet our needs for security and significance.
By the time I'd reached my teenage years I was aware of deep feelings of insecurity and insignificance. I remember clearly believing the false assumption that if I was a likeable person, I'd have meaningful personal relationships and I'd feel secure. I remember working on my personality, altering what I said and did to please certain people. Of course the problem with this approach is you have to keep changing your approach to suit different people. During these years, as I was pursuing a degree to teach, I was financing part of my university expenses by teaching and performing classical dance in Toronto, Ontario. In my amateur years I'd won many competitions. Later I begun to teach out of province, as well as at the University of Toronto. Teaching and especially performing was very exciting and gratifying for me. I experienced strong feelings of significance by winning auditions, being involved in shows, and receiving praise and admiration when my work was well done. The pay cheques were nice too. I had found something I loved doing. I apparently had talent and drive to do, and something that gave me rewards of significance and financial independence.
The significance, however, was not lasting. I remember thinking about it during moments alone, after a successful show, after the reviews, and the cast parties. I was left with an emptiness, wondering "is this all there is to life? Why am I not more fulfilled?" There was a definite vacuum in my life that I couldn't put my finger on.
What I have learned is this: seeking permanent security from imperfect people doesn't work. We're too concerned for our own needs of security to be truly selfless in helping another. And what I think will give me security is not always what the other person can give me. Seeking permanent significance from our accomplishments doesn't have any lasting value, and we're left trying to accomplish more.
HOW DO WE OBTAIN PROPER SELF-ESTEEM?
It is possible to have proper self-esteem as we're rightly related to our creator, God. We were created with these deep needs for personal security and significance, and God designed the way to meet these needs.
God is the only One who knows me totally, and loves me totally. I never have to fear he'll learn something about me that's so bad that he'll reject me. God says "I have loved you with an everlasting love" I don't have to worry about what makes me acceptable in a relationship with God, the way I do in human relationships. God has seen me at my worst, and still loves me. That is a kind of security that no human relationship can afford me. We will never risk facing rejection from God. God knows us totally and loves us totally. And we don't need to fear God's rejection if we fail at an endeavour. In fact, that is one of the reasons that God sent the person of Christ in the first place â€“ to pay for the imperfection, the self-centredness that causes distance between us and Him. So, the primary solution to this question of how we achieve a proper sense of self-esteem is to establish relationship with our creator, God.
HOW TO MAINTAIN A WELL-BASED SENSE OF SELF-ESTEEM.
If you're like me, you can experience little setbacks in your sense of security and significance. We need a way of handling those setbacks. It all starts with our thinking. The way we think largely determines the way we behave, and that's why exercises that deal only with behaviour bring short-term results. We have to change our thinking, and that will influence our behaviour. I've based my self-worth on how I think I'm performing. This doesn't mean that I shouldn't work up to my highest standard, but it does mean I shouldn't base my significance on that one thing.
So, how do I correct my train of thought? I have to retrain myself to think what is true about me. I'm going to remember that I am a significant person to God, and even if my job performance was off the mark today, God still loves me unconditionally. He can even help me learn from this. Although the examples change, the principles remain the same. God never changes. His love for us remains the same. This isn't just positive thinking or a "band-aid" solution. This is right thinking; it's a foundational solution.
So, we need to ensure that our relationship with God is intact, and then we need to pursue right thinking. One way is with further study. I always like to recommend two excellent studies related to this subject.
One is a set of individual topics called The Transferrable Concepts, by Campus Crusade for Christ. They are extremely practical and very user-friendly. The other study is Behold Your God by Myrna Alexander. It is a very practical book directed to help women deal with daily situations in light of God's character and help in their lives.
I had spent many years trying to fill that vacuum with many created things that didn't ultimately meet my needs for security and significance. But I recall the night I opened the door of my heart to God â€“ I said a simple prayer asking Him to come into my life. (Check out crusade.org/fourlaws if you would like God to fill the vacum in your heart.
As women, we will continue to make great strides in our professional lives, but we make a fundamental error if we think that our relationships and accomplishments can ultimately meet our deepest needs for security and significance. Only our Creator can do that. He longs to do that in each of our lives. The choice to allow Him to do this is ours.
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.
The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
"I've been thinking," he said. "I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone."
Sometimes it is not the wealth you have but what's inside you that others need.
If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
One is not born a woman, one becomes one.
- Simone de Beauvoir
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me.â€
- Erma Bombeck
Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there,
firm as weeds among rocks.
- Charlotte Bronte
And who knows? Somewhere out there in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president's spouse. I wish him well.
- Barbara Bush
There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water.
- Kate Chopin
The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of
us should countenance anything which undermines it.
July 7, 1941
Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect.
- Margaret Mitchell
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Muriel Strode
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.
Pain nourishes courage. You cannot be brave if you have only had wonderful things happen to you.
-Mary Tyler Moore
"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined he will meet with success unexpected in common hours."
-Henry David Thoreau
Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
- Ernestine Ulmer
"Wherever groups of women come together to define their own visions..and make connections with other groups of women...we are affirming a network of change. We are building the future."
- Blanche Weisen Cook