When we are aware of an area that is our weak point, do we try to hide from it? Although we all may know that we can’t be great in everything, is there a subconscious thought that expects we should be anyway? If we were raised by demanding parents who expected us to perform, get straight A’s in school, and always look our best, would that have an impact on our self-esteem when we became adults. There are many who had just the opposite training, the parents may have been absent, too busy, or didn’t care what their children were doing.
As a professor, I have taught Child Development in psychology at Simpson University. As a guest teacher, or school counselor, when working with children who are developing in their early stages, it is amazing to watch how they respond to external stimuli. Some may challenge authority, others may withdraw and begin crying. There are many manifestations of emotions when children are put in a setting where they have to be still and listen for long periods of time and attempt to focus.
As adults, we will carry with us many of the behaviors we developed as children. Some will continue to respond in a negative way when they feel pressure or if they are being told what to do by an authority figure. Other adults may respond by withdrawing, isolating and being quite. Many look for coping skills to deal with the stress of life, some through drug and alcohol, others through working long hours and being too busy to feel.
Many times the reason we experience stress and respond in ways that are harmful is due to the faulty thinking we are entertaining. Perhaps everything that could go wrong, did go wrong! What do we do now? We may think that it is too late, why bother, nothing is going to work to fix the problems we have to face now. I am not suggesting that it is easy to deal with problems, and many times we have to do so on a day to day basis.
There are times the problems we are facing are actually caused by an underlying fear of some sort. I found that when I realize I am facing something that I did not know how to handle it was O.K. to let someone else know I needed help. That was a huge step for me. As a child, or somewhere in my early development I was led to believe that I must know how to do, or take care of, or fix whatever needed to be taken care of at the moment it needed to be done. I would feel panic inside for I knew I didn’t know all the answers. That was unrealistic thinking on my part, as well as a cruel action from the one who placed the false responsibility on my shoulders.
The good news is that when we recognize faulty thinking, we can adjust our thoughts to become realistic and be free from the burdens of our past. For example: I had a great day today. For one reason, I was able to tell a student that I didn’t know how to solve a particular math problem from a new curriculum that I had never seen before. It was great because I could re-direct him to others who could assist him, and at the same time I was free to accept the fact I didn’t have to know all the answers all the time. Facing our fear, being vulnerable, makes us authentic and genuine. I believe as others see our freedom to embrace our unique and individual self, flaws and all, they too will find their own freedom.