Friday, December 09, 2011

What is Your Personal Stock Ticker?

J.P Morgan, when asked what the stock market will do, replied: It will fluctuate.
If I had my own stock ticker it would predictably be the one I've used for this blog and on my license plates.  Yes, Rachael Kvapil (KVAP) is her own industry.  Not a typical industrial like Google (GOOG) or General Electric (GE).  No this personal industry in which I have assigned my own personal stock ticker has to do with my own emotional well-being. Today my person stock is up on the World Emotional Index by 100 points, which is a vast improvement over yesterday when my emotional stability looked as bad as the economy in October.

Announcing my personal stock ticker
everywhere I go
I've invented this World Emotional Index and assigned myself a stock ticker because, despite my constant journaling and mental reflection, I never really stop and ask myself, "Hey you! Hey how are you doing?" Instead I like to tell myself how I'm doing:

  • You are such a dork.  Why are you suck a dork?
  • You are being so weird.  Why are you being so weird?
  • Jeez, you just ate 50,000 pounds of cookie dough.  Do you have to be suck a pig?
  • If you would just give a little concentration then you would maybe finish something.
The internal dialogue isn't all bad:

  • Yeah!  We had a stellar class tonight! See you can be a good dancer.
  • Oh snap we got all the clothes folded in an hour! It just takes getting started!
  • Wow that was a super cool post my child wrote me on Facebook.  See you are a good mom!
If my brain could wear a bully/know-it-all sign it would read:


But somewhere in my morning, as I was reading my son's Newsweek, the discussion turned onto self-esteem. Jessica Bennett and identified low self-esteem as a characteristic of wives who suddenly find out their husbands were long-term sex offenders (The Wives of Sex Offenders: Was Dottie Sandusky Complicit?)  The minute I read the words "low self-esteem" I closed the magazine.  I had to force myself to breathe because I felt like an arrow had been stuck in my chest. For years I had worked on my self-esteem issues and, so long as I don't think about it, I feel like I can convince myself that my self-esteem is fairing well enough regardless of what I'm feeling or all the other things around me that are trying to hint otherwise.  It dawned upon me that this low feeling I've had the past few months, the exhaustion, the feeling I'm getting nowhere in life all come back to my self-esteem.  In that moment, I asked myself, "Um, so, how are you doing?" and I told myself, "You know I'm doing pretty good.  Thanks for asking."  And I went back to reading my article.

I'd like to end my post with some thoughts on self-esteem/self-confidence outlined on the A View on Buddhism website.  It's a long list of possible reasons for a lack of self-confidence.  Some are ones we've heard before.  Others, like Improper Humility, I've never thought about.  The page also has thoughts from the Dalai Lama on the subject and is worth a read:

(Note: these are mainly my personal views, not strictly Buddhist)

- Guilt: paralysing form of self-torture; seeing one's imperfections and believing improvement is beyond possibilities.
- Scepticism/being over-critical; unrealistic expectation of perfection, reasoning that, "I am not perfect, so I'm worthless". Scepticism and cynicism are sometimes called "crystallised forms of anger", and can be detrimental to yourself, as you may only be focussing on faults of yourself, and rarely allow yourself to enjoy good things. In cynicism, the fear and distrust are taken one step further, thinking, "They are imperfect, they are worthless".
- Unforgiving: unrealistic expectation of perfection, reasoning that "People should be perfect, I and others are not perfect, and no one can be forgiven for not being perfect."
- "I could never do this, I can only ...": focus on my own limits rather than on my possibilities for growth and improvement. "I am not perfect" may be very true, but is that not the best possible reason for trying to improve oneself in a disciplined manner by being positive and helping others?
- Self-shame: keeping secrets about oneself: "I am disgusting, strange, weird, stupid, ugly". This creates a negative spiral, "others never talk about it, so I must be really weird"; based on the delusion: "I should be perfect, because others are".
- Pride: if one is genuinely self-confident, there is no need for pride; only an empty balloon can be 'blown up'. It is based on the unrealistic view: "Others should be perfect and are not, but I am better". To cover up their own insecurity, a fair amount of people act out pride, as if they are better than others, but only because they lack self-confidence.
- Improper humility: not regarding oneself as equal to others, but less than others. Humility is a positive quality as it avoids pride and is other-centered, often driven by active compassion for others. Lack of self-confidence however, is often self-centred (feeling sorry for oneself and looking for excuses to not change your own situation) and paralyses you from doing positive actions. In fact, this kind of false humility is categorised under pride.
- Idolising people: overestimating others is based on - or will easily lead to - underestimating oneself, see improper humility.
- Fear, uncertainty to: make mistakes, be abnormal, not be liked, change, be hurt or of responsibility. Fear closes the heart and mind off from the outside; leaving you alone! Based on the misunderstanding: "I should be perfect", which is simply unrealistic.
- Acting to be a perfect person instead of being myself: if I am self-confident, I don't need to behave like someone else; see pride. Instead of leading to praise, others may easily pierce through the facade and uncover my acting.
The 14th Dalai Lama takes a page from the 7th Dalai Lama
when it comes to our frail humanity
His Holiness the 7th Dalai Lama in 'Songs of spiritual change' (translated by Glenn Mullin):
"What is like a smelly fart, that, although invisible, is obvious?
One's own faults, that are precisely as obvious as the effort made to hide them.
- Feeling: "the world is a bad place"; note that the world is often a mirror of what we think of ourselves; a negative world image and negative self-image can be two sides of the same coin; reflects expectation of an unrealistic perfect world. The world is neither perfect nor all bad.
- Laziness: (in Buddhism defined as "being attached to temporary pleasure, not wanting to do virtue or only little".) The reason for this kind of laziness could be based on the fear responsibility or making mistakes, based on the unrealistic:"I should be perfect and not make mistakes, so I better do nothing at all".
- Depression: indulging in self-pity, closed-heartedness: based on "I am not perfect and therefore pitiful".
- Lack of trust in others; when you never open your heart to others, it is hard for them to open their hearts to you. Without this openness, we are likely to start asking ourselves if we are 'normal' without getting any feedback. At the same time, when we do not open our heart to others, they will usually not open their hearts to us. In that way, we never discover that others struggle with the same problems as we ourselves do. Real communication will simply prove there is nothing to be ashamed of to begin with - we are all humans.

It's been a crazy day and promises to only get crazier.  On days like these it's easy to see a drop on the World Emotional Index.  But so far, things are steady and maybe on the upside.  What's the emotional forecast for you?

1 comment:

Thomas Korn said...

Thanks KVAP! That post was the boost I needed.