I hadn't ever given self-esteem much thought, except as I came across it in articles and books on parenting--boosting kids' self-esteem is essential vs. boosting kids' self-esteem is destructive. But I'd never thought much about mine.
But, delving deeper into my experience of pain, I'm learning that a lot of it is connected to self-esteem for me (it's complicated and I won't go into it here.) For me, a lot of it is body issues that go way back, but it seeps into other realms (like when I let a college roommate walk all over me.) I'm fascinated by it and the more I consider it and look around, the more I see how prevalent the lack of self-esteem and its effects are for me and so many women I know: "compare and despair" perfectionism that becomes paralyzing (especially with Pinterest and FB), negative body (and general self) talk, constantly feeling like a "bad mom," feeling responsible or to blame for things that aren't ours and taking everything soooo personally, trying to control things so we'll be okay, looking to friends and/or FB for approval and reassurance, indecision etc for fear of being wrong or a making a misstep, coping unskillfully with eating/shopping/whatever, and so much more, I'm sure, because it's insidious. My therapist says that she wouldn't have patients if women had self-esteem!
And I feel for us.
In my family, I think it goes back generations, perhaps each one passing it on in a different guise. My grandmother was an abused woman (who fortunately got out of that marriage, but I imagine the effects lingered.) My mom taught us "I'm okay; you're okay," but I know she doesn't necessarily feel that way (but I leave that as her own personal story.) And then there's me. I'm working on it, but you can't just invent self-esteem. And is it already too late to spare the kids? How will I pass it along? I see the obvious traps--for me, it's about bodies--but what about the ones I don't see? How do I both support the kids' self esteem while also not distorting it?
At the very least, I'm more self-aware and that has to help, right?
(Yes, I see what I did there.)