Stopping Self-Sabotage

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We all have things in life we’d like to achieve, be them certain dreams or goals, but never reach them.  Or perhaps started multiple projects but never finished them.  External factors withstanding, it may be the only thing that is standing between you and your success or progression in life is YOU.

Sometimes, despite the best intentions or even being the utmost capable, you could be sabotaging your own success.  And this could be from a variety of things – negative self-belief, unhealthy behaviours, fear of failure (or success), or any combination thereof.

This lack of confidence in yourself means you are your own worse enemy in your life, and maybe it’s time to tame that vicious beast once and for all.

Discover the ‘why’

Surprising as it may sound, some people actually self-sabotage out of habit or to keep themselves within a certain ‘comfort zone’.  It’s not necessarily intentional, not do they even really realise they’re doing it, but it can become somewhat routine.

One of the hardest things to determine is why you’re doing it and identify the areas it’s affecting.  You have to really dig deal inside to identify the basis for feeling unworthy or for shooting down your own success before you’ve even tried.  It could just something as simple as your own inner negativity attacking yourself due to a fear of rejection, ridicule or any number of self-limiting beliefs that could be holding you back from achieving your goals.

When in doubt, write it out

Journal_writing_coffee_journal_millsOne of the many benefits of keeping a journal, be it online in the form of a blog or even an old-school physical notebook, is that it allows you to fully explore things you’re feeling or situations you find yourself in, and you can take your time to extrapolate how you think or feel about them.

Basically, think of it as free therapy.

When it comes to this sort of journaling, it’s more about allowing yourself the space to write freely and express yourself openly without concern of judgement or over analysis.  You may want to keep all this person and for yourself (as opposed to publishing online for the world to read.. ), but this a decision only you can make.

And it’s not about being creative or writing to an audience.  This is truly and only about you and how you’re feeling or thinking.  It’s all about the expressing of your thoughts.  It could just a couple lines, or a couple pages.  Or it even could just be a doodle.

It’s your journal so you make the rules after all.

Don’t talk yourself out of it

Whether you realise it or not, you talk to yourself every day.  We all tend to have an ongoing inner monologue going on as the day progresses.  It could be about your behaviour, something you’ve overheard, thoughts about what to have for dinner, criticism of your own performance, or any number of things we all think about daily.

Self attackUnfortunately, this inner chatter can frequently turn negative, which in turn can demolish your self-worth and self-esteem.  And sometimes you don’t even realise it’s happening until it’s too late, and you’re already reinforcing any negative limitations you’ve placed on what you’re capable of in life.

It could arise in the form of guilt over some past experience, anxiety over something still to come, or hopelessness at our current situation.  Basically you have to be more aware of how often you talk down to yourself in your head, and actively adjust to thinking differently to build a more positive attitude about yourself.

No more apples and oranges

be diferentWho doesn’t compare their lives to those around them, and then start feeling inadequate or lazy because we haven’t achieved the same levels as someone else.  By doing this, you’re saying to yourself that the other person is ‘worth more’ than you, that they’re better than you.  And it’s utterly unrealistic.

This constant comparison is demotivating and will only lead you to feeling worse about yourself.  You’re lessening your own self-worth along with your own beauty or potential for greatness.  You need to remember that everyone is different, and that is what makes your life so unique – nobody else in the entire world has lived it!

So instead of imitating someone else’s success or behaviours, be true to yourself.  Realise your own authentic self and be proud of what you’ve achieved, or where you’re headed in life.

Be your own best friend.

You’ve all heard this before – you need to stop giving everyone else around us all of your life, time and attention, and start focusing on yourself.  You need to start allowing yourself time to be self-nurturing and truly enjoy your own company.  Spend quality time doing what YOU enjoy, and stop trying to please everyone else around you.

a789bff55ac029875a2b8c3a39e681d2Self-sabotage causes us to overlook other people’s issue or mistakes, and then tear yourself down for doing the exact same thing.  Is this right or fair?  Of course not because it just reinforces those negative limitations you’ve placed on yourself.

Instead, take the time for self-discovery.  Enjoy the journey to exploring yourself and your true potential.  Remind yourself regularly (if not daily) that you are an amazing person and you deserve to be the best ‘you’ you can be.

This article has been influenced by — http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/stop-sabotaging-yourself-5-easy-steps.html

Stepping Up to Mental Wellbeing

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Everyone deals with stress, anxiety or depression in different ways, and there’s no true set rule on how to deal with any of them.  We’ve all read countless online self-help articles touting themselves as being the ultimate list of how to do this or that.. when in reality, most are just rehashes of the same things over and over again.

One thing does ring true though regardless of which articles you read – If you don’t at least give them a shot, then you’ll never know if they truly make you feel more positive about your life, or even help move you down the road to your own happiness.

Side note – Happiness isn’t necessarily a destination, but more of a state of being.  And everyone’s ideal of happiness is different, so find your own happiness. 🙂

What is mental wellbeing?

Per the below NHS site, mental wellbeing is defined as such:

“Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are too.

“So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

“Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult. But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick

Like anything in life, the more you put into something like your own well being, the more you’re likely to get out of it.  And if you’re waiting on someone else to ‘give’ you happiness, you’ll be waiting for your entire life.

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Steps to Mental Wellbeing

Below are a few suggestions we could all take to boost how we’re doing.  As previously mentioned, this isn’t an exhaustive list and some may work better for some people than others.

Connect with others

All too often when we’re feeling down or a bit blue, we’ll find ourselves pulling away from our loved ones.  Instead reach out to the people around you, be them family, friends, colleagues or neighbours.  Just be willing to make that step to open up the lines of communication.

Be active

This isn’t necessarily about going to the gym or starting some massive work out regime.  It’s more about just finding an activity that you enjoy and incorporate into you daily life – take a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a swim, and so forth.

Keep learning

Sometimes all you might need is to boost your own wellbeing is to engage your mind in something constructive.  It could be learning a new skill, taking a hobby class , getting that certification you’ve been dreaming about.  Or maybe just read that book gathering dust on your bedside table.

Volunteering your time

Being a volunteer in any capacity can not only help you feel like you’re contributing more to your community, but it’s a goldmine for networking.  But you don’t even have to go so far as to actually volunteer – sometimes the smallest thing, like smiling at a stranger or giving a kind word to something, can make the world a difference.

Be in the present

This could be called ‘mindfulness’, but it’s mostly about being aware of what is going around you at any given moment.  This can include the world around you, local/national/international politics, your thoughts or feelings, and most importantly, your own body.  However, don’t allow yourself to get so immersed in this that you block out other parts of life, as that’ll have an averse affect.

This post has been influenced by — Five steps to mental wellbeing – Stress, anxiety and depression – NHS choices

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Control Your Attitude

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Like a lot of people out there, I tend to dwell on the negative things that happen in my life.  And the more I think on things, the worse they make me feel and build upon the already negative feelings I’m having.

This, of course, isn’t a healthy or great way to deal with negativity in my life.  But sometimes it’s not as easy as just flipping a switch to stop thinking so negative.  It takes a lot of work to turn my attitude around, and sometimes if it’s been built up too much, then it’s near impossible to see the forest through the trees.

When I’m feeling negatively about something, I tend to get angry about it as well and wanting to lash out at something (or someone)… Which usually does more harm than good in the long run, so best to not allow myself to get to that point.  Not an easy feat at times.

So what is one to do if they’re starting to feel negative?  Well, why not try a few of these tips.

Shake that booty

As much as I hate hearing people say exercise is the best way to release tension and refocus your energy, you can’t help but agree the amazing rush you get when you get yourself out there and move around.  It doesn’t have to be a full-on work out, but could be as simple as going for a walk, try a bit of yoga, go for a bike ride.  Or even as simple as putting on your favourite dance tracks and dancing around your bedroom. It gets the endorphins surging for a bit and allows your body to pull away from your mind.

dancingSpell it out

For some people, myself included, writing out your feelings can be very therapeutic.  You may think that it’ll just bring you closer to the negativity you’re feeling, but that’s only while you’re writing them down.  Just the exercise of getting the words out can do you a wonder of good, as it allows you to look at the situation from a different perspective.  And perhaps allow you to actually work through that negativity in a more creative way.

Give someone a hand

There’s no better feeling you can get than when you’ve helped out a fellow human being with someone.  It be helping a mate move house or paint their new place, or even as simple as cat-sitting for a friend while they’re away.

Or if you want to take it further, there are numerous volunteer opportunities in your community, which allows you to make a more tangible positive difference in someone’s life.

In the end, helping someone else out can be very fulfilling and help you fill your head with new positivity.  It’ll also get you out of your cave and give you a chance to interact with others who need you.

No news is good news

Let’s be honest – there isn’t a lot of positivity shown on the nightly news, so if you’re already feeling a bit down, then turn it off.  Don’t even watch it, regardless of how intrigued you are about certain events occurring around the world.  The last thing you need is to feed your negative feelings with stories of war, murder, closed-minded politics or any other horrible thing they show each night.

Instead turn your brain onto something different, something beautiful and positive.  Read your favourite novel.  Watch your favourite movie.  Listen to your most uplifting diva.  Basically seek out the good stuff in life, and let the positivity take over your being.

Show those pearly whites

smile not crySometimes a smile, or even a good laugh, can do wonders for your negative feelings and help turn your energy back into positivity.

We’ve all heard that tired cliched saying ‘Turn that frown upside down’, usually from someone who doesn’t know what to say about what you’re going through.  And as lame as you may think that advise it, it’s actually quite valid.  Making yourself smile and laugh can be contagious, and before you know it, you’re feeling right as rain.

Turning your negative attitudes and feelings back into something more positive takes energy and effort on your part.  So go ahead and put the effort in.  Because in the end, you’ll only have yourself to thank for your own happiness.

This post was inspired by: You can control your attitude by Brian Tracy with article by Scott Stabile

Learning to Love Yourself

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Let’s be frank – before someone else can love how amazing you are, you need to learn to love yourself first.  Despite what you may think, self-love is not a crime..

And no, that’s not some naughty joke about masturbation.  😉

Being happy with yourself and loving who you are as a person is the first step towards fulfilling your dreams, achieving personal growth, and yes even finding that ultimate happy relationship with someone special.

SELF_LOVE_by_DesignADPDespite what some may think, loving oneself is not about being narcissistic or being so totally selfish that you think life revolves around you.  In fact it’s about finding a balance in your life, without neglecting your own feelings.

And at the same time we need to recognise that living for the positive feedback from others to bolster their sense of being ‘good enough’ is no substitute for loving yourself. Sure, it’s important to help others, especially loved ones, but it shouldn’t be your sole reason for living.

It’s about finding a balance between selfishness and selflessness.  You would become more emotionally balanced due to a healthier sense of what it means to be accepting of yourself – the good, bad and everything in between.

It ultimately helps if you can understand that you’re just as important as anyone else, and that your thoughts and feelings are valid.  It doesn’t matter if you grew up thinking others were better than you, because you can break the cycle and start learning to love yourself just the way you are.

Self-love involves the following (via Self-Love is Not a Crime: Learning to Love Yourself | World of Psychology):

Self-care.

Self-care means you treat yourself just as kindly and thoughtfully as you would anyone else. If you are uncomfortable doing something, then you don’t do it and that’s OK. Just because somebody might be disappointed that you didn’t help him or her, that’s his or her choice to feel that way.

Considering your needs.

If that means others don’t get all of you, all the time, then that’s also OK. People can learn to adjust and be responsible for themselves.

Caring for yourself with the same level of effort that you do for others.

That might mean you don’t always fulfill your goal of helping others because you’d prefer to spend time doing something for yourself. That’s not selfish.

Accepting yourself for all that you are —

Both your positive aspects and your human fallibility.You cannot be all good all the time. That’s OK. You can work on self-improvement, but that doesn’t mean you discount the parts of yourself you don’t like as much. Those aspects are still part of your whole.

Saying no to others’ requests. Its-Ok-To-Love-Yourself

That’s OK. You are not totally responsible for everybody else’s needs.

Working toward self-love and acceptance can take time. If you are somebody who has little regard for yourself, then you might want to start with self-like-a-little, working up to self-like. In time, you’ll learn to self-love and accept yourself for all that you are.

Read the full article at –> Self-Love is Not a Crime: Learning to Love Yourself | World of Psychology

Gay Body Image Issues

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hot hairy manOne thing most gay men out there have in common is body image issues.  Be it being self conscious about how you look, how others perceive your body, or how judgmental you are about your own body.

I know I do.  I’ve always been a short, chubby guy who’s felt awkward around others who looked more like society’s so-called ‘norm’.  And regardless of how well my life is going at the time, I’ve always felt a bit of inadequacy or that perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough when comparing myself to those around me, both personally and professionally.

According to psychotherapist Matthew J. Dempsey, the body image issues most gay men have are actually masking other deeper, more complex underlying inadequacies that we all struggle with, including feelings of inadequacy.  There are many out there who base their self-esteem on how others perceive their physique, and fixate on trying to fix their appearance to appear more attractive to others.

Through the media and our own community, we’ve created this image of what a gay man should look like – tall, handsome, fit, charming, and so forth.  And a lot of us have bought into that ideal so much that we spend most of our free time trying to change how we look to please those around us.

Of course that doesn’t apply to everyone, as there are many people out there who are quite happy with how they look or where they are in life and are not consciously trying to change their appearance to appease others.  And that’s not to say that being physically active in order to become and feel healthier is buying into the stereotype either.

MAN-LOOKING-IN-MIRROR-facebookAs explained in the below video, we tend to be overly critical of our own bodies when there are other issues at hand, and by doing this we are avoiding dealing with whatever issue is actually bothering us at the time.  Instead of trying to fix our problems, we’d rather ‘fix’ our physical appearance because that is something we think we can have more control over.

I know I’ve stood in front of the mirror many times and looked at my body, wondering why I look the way I do, berating myself for not taking better care of myself when I was younger, and wondering how someone could find this rotund body attractive.  It’s negative thinking at it’s worst, and though some may call it being self-critical, it’s very destructive in the long run.

Changing our outward appearances will not fix or negate the underlying issues, but instead will mask it and give ourselves a false feeling of achievement… Though feeling good about how you look or how your body feels is an amazing thing, and it should be felt all the time regardless of your body shape.

Yes, I currently go to the gym several times a week and have been watching my diet, but it’s mostly to feel healthier as a whole not to specifically look a certain way.  Obviously I do hope that in the long run I will lose some weight and feel more comfortable with my body, but that’s not the main goal of going to the gym.. If anything it’ll just be a very welcome side effect.

I sometimes have to stop myself lately when looking in the mirror when trying to find signs that the gym is having a  positive affect on my body.  I need to consciously remind myself that physical appearance is less important than how I actually feel inside.

fuckable bearLooking a certain way will not necessarily improve your life on a whole, nor will it truly bring happiness. Sure, it may get you more dates, but are you getting those dates because of how you look or who you are as a person?

It’s not an easy thing to get past when you’ve spent years berating yourself over your appearance, or subconsciously calling yourself names (fat, ugly, disgusting, undesirable, etc).  It’s difficult to change how you perceive your own body, and try to see yourself through other people’s eyes.

It’s hard, and it’s not something that will change over night, if at all.  But it’s something I know I’m consciously working on.

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy | Purpose Fairy

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I found this article that had been posted back in May 2011 on a website called Purpose Fairy and thought it be good to repost it here.  John LennonI think no matter how well your life is going (or isn’t depending on the person I suppose), there is always something more you can do around self-improvement.

Click HERE for the full article

I know I personally could definitely use some work on some of the points listed.  It’s never an easy thing to look at your life in such a critical way and truly understand how to ‘fix’ (for lack of a better word) parts of your life.

Then again if everyone was completely happy all the time, who’d have anything to complain about?

Oh shit.. that’s number 6.  I’ll have to work on that one.. a lot. 😉

1. Give up your need to always be right

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blamelet it go

Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk

Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

About what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complainingcomplaining

Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change

Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.


“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” 
Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels

Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open.

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

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12. Give up your excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

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14. Give up attachment

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

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‘You’re Not Special’

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That was the message give by David McCullough Jr., a Boston-area English teacher, to the graduating class of Wellesley High.

And he was right.

The point he was trying to make to the graduates, as they sat in matching, formless robes with matching diplomas, that all the accolades and awards growing up are meaningless if everyone else has gotten one.  He continued to say, “You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. … We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.”

He added: “Even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.”

To read the full article about this teacher’s inspirational speech, please click HERE.

The point he made in his commencement speech was about going out into the world and live their lives to their fullest, without looking for the accolades.

To resist the easy comforts of complacency.  To dream big and think for yourself.

To climb the mountain because you want to see the view, and not because you want others to see you accomplish it.

Instead of ‘You only live once’ it should be ‘You live only once’.

McCullough’s address does push students to recognize real achievement: “The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life is an achievement,” and he encourages graduates “to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.”

His message also was about being selfless, exercising free will and independent thought.  And making for themselves extraordinary lives.

I think everyone should listen to this speech over and over, regardless of where you are in your life.. as it has a lot of great advice and makes a LOT of sense.  It is inspiring and thought provoking.. and I wish I’d heard it when I was graduating high school 20 years ago (oh man.. has it been 20 years already??).

In a day and age where parents are more concerned about a child’s self-esteem and confidence instead of their abilities to learn (I read somewhere that the US ranks around 28th in the world in math and science achievement but rank #1 in “self-esteem”), society needs to stop awarding people even when they fail.  It seems like you can get an award for anything these days.

Personally I think parents need to show their children that they’re special to them, but that the child needs to earn their place in the world.  That there are no free rides in life, and that regardless of how well you’ve done previously, you still need to continually earn respect as you move forward in the world.

Today’s youth (and I can’t believe how old that made me feel writing that…) have a sense of entitlement, and are more concerned with their social status, having the coolest electronic gear, or how to get rich and famous.  They’re looking for the easy way out.

I actually recently overheard a young guy on the train to work say to his mate that he was so tired and didn’t know how he could work full-time for the rest of his life, and that he needed to get famous… and his mate, shocked, said to him, ‘You haven’t even been working for a year yet!’

I think that kind of says it all.

Affecting a Child’s Self-Confidence

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Right.. so anyone who truly knows me can tell you I’m not the most confident person in the world.  I’ve never had the best self-esteem or belief in myself growing up and this has carried over into my adult life.

It definitely doesn’t make life easy when you’re too timid to go for the things you want in life, cause some little part of you is always there whispering ‘What makes you think you deserve that?’.

OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I think you know what I mean.

Anyway, I read this News Article on Yahoo this morning and it got me thinking about a child’s self-esteem.  And how parents and teachers can radically affect it in a variety of ways.

In this article, a Grade 3 student received a ‘catastrophe’ aware for the most excuses for not having her homework done.  Quite literally a negative award that was announced in front of her classmates, which prompted them to laugh at her.

Gotta love public humiliation in the school system..

However I can only imagine how embarrassed that kid is now that her mother has made the news about a silly negative award.. and it makes me wonder which would have the more negative impact on this child.

Growing up I was never popular or the kid everyone wanted to hang out with.  Sure, I had friends I’d play with at recess or after school at times, but I was never top on the party invite list.  In fact there were more than a few occasions where a ‘friend’ from school was having a party of some sort and I wasn’t invited.

Hell, that happens even now as an adult.  Always so much fun reading on Facebook how much fun a group of ‘friends’ are having here or there… Of course they’re not truly friends if you’re being purposely excluded.

But how did this happen?  I can only speculate of course, but I personally think it’s a combination of negativity from both my parents and my teachers growing up.. of a sort.

When I was in primary school, I admit I was a little smarty-pants.  I got good grades in every subject and I strived to be the best, especially at math and languages.  However, I got picked on for being smart and trying to be an overall good kid.. and not just from the other students.

I actually had a teacher who nicknamed me ‘Smarty-Marty’ when I was 6 or 7, and she used it again when I had her for a teacher at a different school when I was 12.  She was never encouraging, but had more of a ‘oh what a surprise, he got another good mark’ type of attitude.  If I remember correctly, I vaguely recall an incident where she actually made fun of me in front of the other students for being good at something (probably math).. and this was when I was 12 when kids are just starting to become aware of social stature and such.

How is publicly humiliating a child being a good teacher?  It’s not.

The effect of this?  Overtime I think I subconsciously stopped trying to achieve as much, became more of an average student for a lot of secondary school and into college.. which in the end has affected my ability to get a decent job/career and make a life for myself.

Then again, sometimes parents don’t realise how their comments can also affect a child. The most casual, seemingly innocent comment can cause scars on a child’s psyche.

I didn’t have a great childhood at all.  There are some stuff both my younger sister and I have blocked out (nothing horrible, we weren’t abused or anything), and there are things I remember that she doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents… now, but I didn’t when I was growing up.

I was always the odd one out, being the only boy in the family .. and I was regularly being compared to a brother that had never existed.  My dad and his first wife had had a son who’d died a few months after he was born, and my dad had created this fantasy in his mind as to what that son would be like grown up.

That’s right, I was found lacking compared to an idealised version of what my dad thought he would have been like.

Admittedly I don’t think he knew what he was saying or how it would affect me, but I remember growing up actually hating and feeling resentful towards this brother who hadn’t lived.  I felt like I couldn’t live up to this perfect fantasy brother, so why should I try as I’d only be a let down in the end.

How healthy is that?  It’s not.

To me, parents and teachers are meant to be encouraging with children.  I don’t mean boost up their self-esteem so much that they’re cocky or doomed to fail as adults because they’re overly confident.  And they most definitely shouldn’t be comparing them to their siblings, real or otherwise.

Instead they should be helping the kids be the best person they can be and do their best at everything they try.. while letting them just be a kid.  No pressure, no preconceived notions of how things will go (especially when they’re competing in something).

If only we could go back and live things over again knowing what we know now.