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It is a journey to learn to honour and approve of your self

People who struggle to value, praise or appreciate others are often ones for whom the idea of valuing people overtly is not an easy one to do. A root cause of this can be because they do not value themselves underneath. Also people who look for appreciation from others can find it missing in themselves. So our ego watch for today is self-deprecation, putting ourselves down.

People who put themselves down are ones who might for example when invited to have something for themselves will decline it, saying “It doesn’t matter.” They may push it away, implying it isn’t important, but might leave you with the sense they they aren’t actually valuing themselves. Of course many of us were taught to be modest, to not “push” ourselves forward, to “not be pushy”, to keep quiet, to not draw attention to ourselves, to “not boast”, to keep a low profile. Can you read all the “nots” in that?! It is of course profoundly negative.

The person who doesn’t value themselves may hold the core belief inside that they are “not good enough”, that they “don’t matter”. It’s a profoundly unhappy place. You’ll hear it in things like an inability to acknowledge ability: “I’m no good at…” whatever it is. You can hear the words “I’m no good” in there. Another manifestation is apology, “I’m sorry”, often when there’s nothing to apologise for.

Self-deprecation can be very effectively covered up. People may act the reverse to the underlying belief. Or they may have their hearts closed, being reluctant to contact the pain inside.

Yet often a core aspect is a dislike of self, a shame, that goes back a long way. But it is not who we are.

This is where self-esteem, confidence and positive psychology work is important. The affirmation needs to be “I love, value and appreciate myself”. But to be able to say that to yourself, you are very likely to need to work on developing a sense of self-value, of how it feels inside, and finding the space inside where you begin to love yourself. Words on their own don’t quite do it. We would take positive psychology a step further. Self-deprecation is a hugely powerful negative ego trait. It nicely illustrates the function of the ego in masking the real Self, who you really are. The underlying Self is bliss, joy, love, contentment, peace. This Self is the source of all that is good about oneself. It feels so good. So it is a fundamental shift to make, from self-deprecation to honouring the Self. This is where developing an inner awareness of the authentic Self is a major, powerful journey.

This is part of what we teach in our awareness work.

As a simple awareness practice in the meantime however, catch yourself putting yourself down, not valuing yourself, and say to yourself empowering words, like “I love, value and appreciate myself”. It needs regular practice since self-deprecation is often very well-entrenched.

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Being in touch with our personal assets and strengths to promote ourselves

It’s frustratingly easy in difficult times to start to undervalue ourselves. It’s going on all over the place at the moment, at all levels. When the value of things shrink, so it seems does our self-esteem! There’s almost a perverse relationship between the two. As many a job hunter will know, this doesn’t help their job search.

It is also relevant to those in work, whether it is in seeking to influence others, make a presentation, advocating new ideas, or wherever we need to put ourselves in a positive light, as well as in motivating ourselves. It’s a lot harder to drive things forward when you doubt yourself.

This is a potentially useful point of awareness. What can help is if we instead connect with a part of ourselves that does value ourselves. It could be we need to work on that. However, if we’ve done work on identifying our strengths and know where our expertise lies, we are more likely to go there if we need to in order to advocate what we are about more powerfully. The shift of state is to connect inside with our own inner belief in Self, our centred state, and from That place articulate who we are, what we are about and where we are going. This is much more powerful and people then really get us, have faith in us, trust us, believe in us, and want to work with us.

There was a lot in that paragraph to absorb. I’ll pick out two key bits of work. Firstly, where we do work to let go of our negative self-perceptions and re-connect (since is it always there, albeit often hidden) with our inner Self-belief. This is about knowing who we really are, being connected to Source, feeling our inner centredness, being in touch with our Beingness, or however you perceive or name it. Secondly, you do work to identify what your strengths are, and the evidence for that. Often I find it is about really getting in touch with the core of our expertise, what we really excel at, what makes the real different, our often unique individual talent or contribution. Both of these can be achieved through working with us, the first on our coaching.

However, such is the nature of the ego that we can easily, as in difficult times, slip back into a negative self-perception. The point of awareness is to catch ourselves doing that and manage the mind and re-focus. It needs will and determination, but it can help to use skilled help to get your thinking back on track.

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Feeling small

One difficult lesson to get on the self development path is our essential goodness or worth. One, there’s a part of us that immediately rejects the idea, and secondly it runs contrary to much of what we are told and taught in our society.

Much of the time we have messages going on inside that tell us we’re not OK and that gets reinforced outside by the people and situations we meet, and we end up feeling small. That can seem a bit strange when there’s also a lot out there encouraging us to think well of ourselves, to think and be positive, and to “walk tall”. The danger with the latter is that it can encourage a false self, where the individual tries to live out of a false self-image and present that self to the world. Inside somewhere it’s different. Thus narcissism is a very contemporary condition.

Others, very many of them I fear, live more consciously aware of their own low self esteem, and deny their own worth consciously.

Either polarity is based on a similar internal message, “I’m not OK”. It just manifest differently. So your very cheerful, larger-than-life extrovert or your quiet, shy introvert can both have similar internal negative self-messages. They are simply different “creative adjustments”, as Gestalt Therapy would put it.

I’ve been reading a very interesting book recently, The Splendour of Recognition by Swami Shantananda, on the sutras of an old Kashmir Shaivite text, the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam. In it he quotes Sutra Four, which translated reads, Even the individual whose nature is Consciousness in a contracted state, embodies the universe in a contracted form. You too are Shiva, they would say.

Very hard for us to get.

It flies right in the face of this low self-image stuff I’m referring to. Yes, I know, there’s that “I’m sceptical” bit, but it’s worth trying a bit of honesty and asking what that’s really about, what’s the real underlying scepticism about, beneath the intellectual justifications and excuses for life not working out as we’d like it to. It can be worth asking, “What excuse do I make for not being who I really am?” Is it “I don’t believe in this flaky stuff,” or is it that I use scepticism to make a cover for an inner self-doubt about life and who I am? And perhaps this self-doubt needs to be faced.

Can we really be Consciousness in a contracted form? Well, I can certainly get the “contracted” bit. After all, we can at times feel very small and inadequate. And that’s the point, at least in part. We experience ourselves as limited and contracted. But that’s not who we are really. That’s the ego getting in the way.

The challenge is to confront our egos effectively and to learn to connect more and more with our essential self, where goodness and self-worth dwell. And live from That space in the world.

To learn more about developing your own inner awareness of who you really are, and how to connect with your inner essence and self-worth, read here about The Point of Awareness.

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How being long-term unemployed is disempowering big time

Let us remember for a moment what it can be like for people to be out of work.

To say it is disempowering for people can, for the long-term unemployed, feel like an understatement of just what a pit of despair one can find oneself in.

Perusing BBC news, I see a report on the plight of the over-50’s unemployed in the current “Great Recession”. Like those between 16 and 24, but for different reasons, they face considerable difficulties getting into work. This is in the context of a massive contraction in the public sector, which was a major source of work in the deprived regions of the UK, which some are describing as a second recession already. No doubt other debt-laden so-called “advanced countries” are facing similar difficulties as they seek to rebalance their economies. Such high-level words, however, seem to mark a disconnect from the actual pain of joblessness.

Those of us with money coming in might not fully realise what it’s like, unless of course you’ve experienced it yourself. But then, it might depend on your circumstances. If you were in a field of work, or had skills or an outlook where more work was easier to get, those of you might not get the full impact. It’s worth reminding ourselves what it does for people who had seen the major part of their lives in paid employment, in careers where work comes to them without much effort, where seemingly their efforts were rewarded, where there was even a sense of security, where what you did was valued: it can come as a huge shock, if not a devastating blow to find yourself long-term out of work.

Many describe it as like a bereavement, in which you experience a grief cycle, a shock when you get the news, false optimism followed by a sharp emotional downturn, anger, upset, depression and a period of what is called the pits, as hopefully you adjust to the reality, come to terms with it, let go of the past, find new meaning, a new direction and a new resolve. However people can stay stuck in the emotional “downturn” and not come to terms with it, lose hope, become despondent, lose self-esteem, and give up. This is especially so if the period of unemployment goes on a long time. Then people get de-skilled and in a sense unemployable.

It can call on people to re-evaluate what they are about, and who they are even. You might need to find new resources, inner resources, to motivate yourself and to think anew, both about yourself, about your capabilities, about your skills and about your direction. This re-evaluation is crucial. For many this can be life-changing. So, if this happening to you, be willing to take a long hard look at yourself and be willing to change your mind-set, find a new will and be ready to make changes.

This is of course on top of all the job search skills one needs to develop, and the networking, etc.

An invaluable resource in such a shift is to develop your self-awareness, since this is a powerful resource. In the process, you can shift old baggage from the past which might be holding you back, and develop new resources to take you forward. If you don’t know what’s holding you back, how can you change? Similarly, if you don’t know your inner resources, and the source of your self-esteem, how can you take yourself powerfully and effectively forward?

To learn more about developing your own inner awareness of who you really are and your knowledge of your truly powerful inner resources, read here about The Point of Awareness.

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