Are You Making Jed Clampett’s Mistake?

Are Self-Esteem Wounds Causing You To Miss Out on Gifts You Already Own?

When I was a kid, I liked to watch the Beverly Hillbillies. For those of you who are way too young, this was a Jed_Clampettsituation comedy about a poor mountaineer family who struck oil on their property, became rich, and moved into a Beverly Hills mansion. Each episode portrayed their confusion, ignorance, and occasional wisdom, as they encountered some aspect of Beverly Hills life.

Jed Clampett was the patriarch of the family. He discovered the oil when he shot into the ground, and “up came a bubbling crude.” Prior to the discovery, he and his family had lived in a little shack, with just enough food to survive.

The irony was that Jed Clampett had always been rich. He had always owned the oil. He just didn’t know it. The riches were just under the surface, waiting to be discovered.

Through the years, I have seen many people who are rich, but don’t know it. They suffer because they can’t see the gifts they already own. They mistakenly perceive themselves to be poor, so they life like they are poor.

These people aren’t living on an oil field. Their riches aren’t material or financial. Their gifts are actually much more valuable. Recognition of their gifts would certainly change their lives, even more than the Clampett’s.

Their unrecognized gifts may be personal abilities, character strengths or relationships. They fail to see these riches because of earlier self-esteem wounds. At some time in their childhood, they were led to believe that they were inadequate, defective or unimportant. Because they were just children, they believed these messages and failed to see the truth.

There was the very intelligent high school senior who never considered college because his father called him an idiot and told him that he would never amount to anything, or the talented musician and singer who never shared her music because a critical piano teacher told her that she lacked talent.

Then there was the sensitive, compassionate woman, who saw her caring nature and empathy as a weakness, because some mean girls in school made fun of her for being too emotional, or the boy who was ostracized because he his values prevented him from joining in on bullying a classmate.

There was the depressed, suicidal man who believed his family and the world would be better off without him, despite the fact that he had a loving family and many caring friends, who worried about him. Fortunately, his suicide attempt was unsuccessful, and he was able to discover the truth.

Finally, there was the woman who had been repeatedly abused and rejected in childhood and adulthood. She believed the abuse to be her fault, assuming that she had some defect that made her unlovable. She told me that she prayed every day that God would love her. I pointed out that this prayer was part of her problem. I told her that she was praying the wrong thing, because God already loved her. I suggested that she pray that God would help her see how much He loved her. She started praying this way, and initiated her healing.

Are you missing out on gifts you already possess? Are you living a life of emotional poverty, when your gifts are just below the surface? You can discover these riches, and your life can change. Just ask Jed Clampett.


Question: What talents, characteristics or love have you missed, because of your self-esteem wounds? How would your life change if you opened those gifts?


You Can Conquer Your Fear of Failure Now

The Impact of Failure on Self-Esteem

Failure is as much a part of life as breathing. We all fail. I suppose the only way to completely avoid failure is to never do anything, but then we would just fail at life.

The key to emotional well being is not to avoid failure (because we can’t), but to handle failure appropriately. Our looking_downreactions to failure experiences determine their impact on our self-esteem. We can see a failure as evidence of our total inadequacy or as an unfortunate event.

When a child is criticized harshly or frequently, his self-esteem will be wounded. He will conclude that he is inadequate or defective. He will see himself as less smart or capable. He will tend to blame himself for any negative life circumstances and perceive that others are judging him. Any failures, even small, will take on enormous importance, as “proof” of the victim’s inadequacy. Consequently, the person will approach any performance situation with tremendous anxiety.

The problem lies in the perception of failure’s consequences. Dennis Waitley, Ph.D. shared an excellent metaphor for this difficulty.

Imagine that I had a twenty foot long board, that was twelve inches wide and four inches thick. I put the board on the ground and asked you to walk its length, from one end to the other. I told you that if you could do so without stepping off, I would give you a hundred dollars. Would you do it? Of course you would, easy task, sufficient reward.

But now lets imagine that I put one end of the board on a twenty story building, and put the other end on an adjacent twenty story building, with a twenty story alley below. Then imagine that I put the $100.00 bill on the other end of the board, with a rock on it, just in case the wind blew. Your task would be to walk across the board, without stepping or falling off, to get the money.

Would you do it now? Would you try to walk across the twelve inch wide board to get the $100.00 bill? I certainly hope not.

But let’s look at the difference. The task is actually the same in both situations, to walk the length of a twenty foot long board, that is twelve inches wide. The only difference is the penalty of failure.

When the board is on the ground, failure simply means that you don’t get the $100.00. When the board is on the building, the penalty is death.

People who have a fear of failure perceive every task as being a board on a building. Every performance feels like life-and-death. They may intellectually know that this is not the case, but their physical reactions give it away. Their hearts race. Their breathing becomes short and shallow. Their muscles tense. Their bodies are preparing for fight or flight.

In a sense, the person with a performance-based self-esteem wound is facing a life-or death event. The potential death is to the self-esteem, not to the body. They fear failure because they believe that it defines them. It doesn’t.

Now, I can almost hear you saying to yourself, “but I fail all the time.” This statement is a reflection of the wounded self-esteem, not reality. No one fails all the time. It’s just that a performance self-esteem wound makes you notice your failures more than your successes. It makes you perceive every negative circumstance as your fault. You don’t pay attention to your successes, so you don’t remember them.

Pay attention to your reactions to failure, or potential failure. Notice how your body reacts. Try to remind yourself that the board is actually on the ground. If you fail, you won’t get what you wanted, but you usually won’t die. You will be disappointed, but the failure won’t actually define you. At least, not unless you let it.



Comment: What about your reactions to failure? Have you discovered techniques that have helped you deal more effectively with failure? Please share them.




Life is Difficult

A Tribute To Scott Peck, MD, Author of "The Road Less Traveled"

I believe that this is one of the best opening pages I’ve ever seen to a personal growth book. I can especially relate to the last line. Think about it.


“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth, because once we truly see this Scott_Pecktruth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult, no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, or their difficulties, as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others. I know about this moaning, because I have done my share.”       (The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, MD)


Comment: Please share your reactions to this quote. Thank you!

Is Your Self-Doubt Killing Your Dreams?

You Can Conquer Self-Doubt and Achieve Your Purpose!

Self-doubt is a ruthless dream killer.

Yesterday, I talked with someone who has huge potential. He is intelligent, kind, thoughtful and has a good depressed_man_001personality. He described a dream he has held since middle school. His dream was a good one. I could feel his excitement as he shared the plans he had made, his educational goals, and his visions of his future day-to-day activities.

He then shared how his dreams fell apart. He lamented that he was now in his mid-thirties, and that he had totally given up on the dream. He explained that, while his interests and personality led him in the direction of the dream, he had “realized” that he just didn’t have the ability.

He related a series of events that made him question his abilities. He felt he just was not smart enough to do it. He had settled for a lower, less demanding path. He gave up on his dream. Actually, his self-doubt had killed the dream.

Self-doubt seems to be found deep in our core being. It is often just under our conscious awareness. We don’t consciously think about self-doubt. Rather, we think the thoughts that are generated by our self-doubt. Thoughts such as, “I don’t think I’m cut out for this” or “I’m not smart enough for that” or “Nobody will want to read my writing.” The thoughts slip through our minds so easily that we barely notice them.

As I talked with the young man, I asked him what he would recommend to a friend in the same situation. He quickly said he would tell the friend to go for his dreams. He then added that his friends had told him the same.

We then discussed small steps he could take to move forward toward his dreams. The small steps seemed much more manageable for him. He made a commitment to start investigating his options.

Everyone has self-doubt at times. The severity of self-doubt depends on the individual’s experience. Those who experienced harsh criticism or academic difficulties usually carry a greater amount of self-doubt.

Pay attention to your self-doubt tendencies. Consider the possibility that your self-doubt is based more on your prior negative experiences, rather than on your actual abilities.

My hope is that you will pursue your dreams and not give up until you’re living them!


Comments: Share your experiences of pursuing and attaining your dreams, despite moments of self-doubt.