Self-esteem is such a nauseating pop culture topic, that I was once ashamed to even admit that I think about it. I’ve thought about it regularly since sixth grade when I wrote an essay on how girls exhibit low self-esteem through aggressive behavior. And ever since then it’s been a topic that I’ve tried to get away from. But you can’t get away from something that you carry within your cellular memory. It will haunt you until you pay attention to it.
The low self-esteem issue comes in waves for me. It’s not like in an action movie where you vanquish your foe once and for all at the end; it’s more like an annual doctor’s exam where I keep finding something else that’s wrong with me. As a child I would have anxiety attacks, and as a teen I would have emotional breakdowns and fits of rage. I went to counseling in 2002, and again in 2004, and again in 2007. Then in 2015 I realized that maybe it would be best if I just counseled myself, and I learned how to speak to my cells and my emotional body. But no matter what I tried, at the end of the day I still had low self-esteem.
If to love yourself is to know yourself, a struggle with low self-esteem is an indicator that you don’t know all there is to know yet. The subconscious mind is like an iceberg (most of it is underneath the surface), and apparently the unconscious mind can’t be fully known. So with this in mind, low self-esteem is completely understandable. When you ask me who I am, the answer is “I don’t know.”
For a long time, I associated more knowledge with rejection. Since getting to know myself has been a journey of paradox, the more I learned about one aspect of my character, the more an opposing aspect would reject it. It’s like my deep side is at a stand-off with my shallow side: the complicated versus the simple. I am the ball in a nauseating ping pong game.
And let’s not even get into the projection. I know that there are some people who are going to laugh at spiritual people no matter who they are or what they say, because it’s the concept that they’re in opposition to, not the person. But when I find out that people don’t understand my deep side, it’s a confirmation of my shallow side’s fear, and vice versa. I imagine that people are making fun of me, and maybe they are, but this is something that my deep side can handle, not my shallow side. My deep side can’t handle being the center of attention, but my shallow side can.
I’m still working through how to deal with this, but one thing that I’m certain about is that BOTH sides of me need my attention. It’s like having a pair of twins that are very different from each other. As their parent you must love them equally but differently. When I feel a twinge of shame from a memory from the past, I know that it’s my emotional body trying to get my attention. It’s hard but I’m learning to be fully present with my emotions by saying, “I am completely here with you now,” and following where that emotion leads me.
You can bring the fragments of your psyche back together by giving the gift of your presence. Make time to listen, and after listening say, “I love you.” Take a glass of water and speak over it, “I love you.” Whenever something new about you is revealed, whether you come across it through your fetishes, your astrological chart, your tarot readings, or a temper tantrum, make sure that the response is always, “I love you.”
Because even though you may not (and cannot) know everything about yourself, it’s important to love what you do know.