You’re Not Alone

Self-Esteem Wounds Can Make Us Feel Like Our Problems Are Unique.

Do you sometimes feel that everyone else has it all together except you? Do you feel that others don’t worry as muchperson_in_crowd as you, or that others don’t suffer from the insecurities that haunt you? Does it seem that they feel more confident, comfortable or content than you?

Perhaps you feel that your life circumstances are more difficult than others. It just seems that others are less plagued by the hardships you endure. Of course, you know better. It doesn’t take much effort to remember someone whose problems outweigh your own. When you think of their pain, you feel guilty for bemoaning your own lesser problems. Even when we know better, we often feel that our problems are unique, and that others are somehow free of similar afflictions. We feel alone.

This perception is fostered by the fact that most people try to act like they actually do “have it all together.” We try to act cool, calm and collected. We want to appear okay. After all, the common response to the question, “How are you?” is “Fine.”

The perception is also fostered by the Facebook phenomenon. So many people read other’s Facebook posts about their wonderful vacations, children and spouses and wonder, “What am I doing wrong?”

It’s really unfortunate that most people try so hard to appear as if they have it all together. It makes us feel like we are unique in our insecurities. So of course, we then have to try harder to act like we have it altogether. Seems a bit circular, doesn’t it?

The fact is that the human condition is shared by all humans. If they look like you on the outside (you know, two eyes, a nose and a mouth) they are probably a lot like you on the inside. If anyone tells you that they never experience insecurities, it just means that they’re too insecure to be honest.

You might benefit from a shift in attention. Rather than focusing your attention on how others see you, focus on really looking at others. Really listen to them. Try to understand others on a deeper level. Try to listen with empathy or compassion. I have found that it is impossible to be self-conscious and other-conscious at the same time. Even when you can’t see it, assume that they too have their story. Listen for it. See if you can help. You’ll feel better for it.

Comment: Share an experience that helped you realize that your feelings or difficulties were not unique to you.

A Simple Thank You

Express Your Appreciation and Enrich Your Life

Thank you. Two simple words, often spoken in passing. As toddlers, we were taught to say please and thank you, as athank_you_on_beach common form of courtesy. But, these two words may contain more power than we realize.

These words are spoken in many different situations, when the waitress brings us a drink refill, when a stranger holds a door for us, when we receive a gift, and when a loved one stays with us during life’s hardest moments. Sometimes the words are spoken without much thought. Sometimes they seem woefully inadequate to fully express the depth of our appreciation.

When spoken from the heart, these words create a sense of vulnerability. We let go of our position or status. We are one human connecting to another. We acknowledge our need and the fact that the other person met that need. Sincerely expressing thanks entails humility.

Try this little exercise. Write down names of people you are thankful for; those who have added something to your life or who have done something for you. This list can include family members, friends, teachers, co-workers and others for whom you are grateful. When you have exhausted this list, add the names of people you may not particularly like, but who have also done something positive for you at some time. You might not normally include these people in a gratitude list, but they did do something for you. Finally, add the names of people whom you have never met, but who have contributed to your life in some way. These people could include soldiers who have protected our freedoms, architects of democracy or inventors of things that make your life easier. When you’re done, the list should be quite long.

This exercise has an interesting impact. You will realize that your life has benefited by many, many people. You recognize that you are a product of many, and that you are a part of a much greater whole. You will experience a profound sense of connection. You are who you are, in part, because of many others.

The exercise is impactful, but it still doesn’t address spiritual gratitude. In addition to the people to whom I am grateful, my personal beliefs bring me to a much deeper appreciation for the many blessings I have enjoyed from my Heavenly Father. Those are far too many to count.

So today, look for opportunities to express thanks. Say it easily. Remind yourself that you are not alone. You are part of a much larger whole. You are who you are because of many. Simply say thank you. It’ll do you good.

Are You A Fortune Teller?

Your Assumptions About The Future Can Hurt You

This is third and final article in my series on choosing our assumptions wisely. In the first article, we considered thecrystal_ball impact of negative assumptions concerning our abilities or potentials. Many people give up on their dreams because they assume they lack the ability to succeed.

In the second article, we looked at the impact of negative assumptions on relationships. We often assume that we know how others are feeling or what they are thinking, even though we can’t read their minds. When we act on our negative assumptions, we damage the relationship.

Today, we’re considering the impact of our assumptions about the future. We do make assumptions about the future, imagining or predicting certain outcomes, and then living as if our assumptions were true.

Assumptions about the future can take many forms. One common form involves assumptions about physical health. For example, we go to the doctor and get a biopsy. The doctor may even say that she doesn’t think the biopsy will indicate cancer, but just wants to make sure. We then imagine the worst. We imagine cancer, chemo and a funeral. We “pre-live” the worst possible scenario. We spend days-to-weeks living as if we’re dying. It’s painful.

The truth about the biopsy is that we don’t know. We don’t know whether the test will come back as positive or negative. We just assume. The test may indicate cancer. If so, we will have to deal with that. It may indicate a benign cyst. If so, we will be relieved and move on.

Why do we tend to assume the worst? I’ve often heard people say that they think assuming the worst will make them more prepared, if the worst should happen. I don’t think so. If the worst outcomes occurs, we still react with anxiety, fear, confusion or possibly hope. Pre-living a bad outcome doesn’t make us more prepared. It just upsets us while we are waiting.

Choosing the hopeful assumption can be difficult. Most of us have to work very hard to not worry or assume the worst. But, by monitoring our thinking, and reminding ourselves that we actually don’t know, we can decrease our anxiety a bit. Reminding ourselves that we actually don’t know the future can help us experience more peace in the present. And, it is the truth.


Comments: How do your assumptions about the future impact your mood, decisions and sense of well-being? How do you maintain an awareness that you actually don’t know the future?