From-Self-Imprisonment-to-Total-Empowerment

Self-esteem. Self-confidence. Empowerment.

These are topics that are near and dear to my heart, especially for young people. So when Steph presented me with this idea of talking about how we imprison ourselves due to low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and negative self-talk and ways to turn that around into total empowerment, I was game!

So I’ll be quiet now and let Steph tell you more. Enjoy!

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Quirk Theory

More people suffer from low self-esteem than they care to admit, particularly because poor self-image points to a painful past that many of us are conditioned to keep deeply buried. Adults who were bullied as children by fellow students — and in some cases, their parents — often find themselves staring down the stark, self-imprisonment that is low self-esteem.

During these formative years, children don’t always recognize that the things that make them both different and the brunt of verbal or physical abuse from their peers, are often the things that make them successful as adults.

Author / journalist Alexandra Robbins called this concept “quirk theory” in her book, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth. Many of the young people profiled in Robbins’ book are shown in the early stages of their journey from self-imprisonment to empowerment, having been bullied for their unique skills and hobbies by peers with more mainstream interests. Those documented in Robbins’ book accept a challenge to find ways to ply their talents into something rewarding and to rise above the jeers of their peers.

Having read the book last year, their stories resonated with me. Growing up, I was quiet, shy, and slightly overweight. Throughout elementary school and junior high, I was the girl who preferred reading, writing, and spending time with my family to being a sock hop n’ skate-o-rama-attending social butterfly.

I loved English class. I attacked writing assignments with zeal, using them as a creative, even cathartic outlet. I was so excited when I was finally called upon by a teacher to share what I wrote with the rest of the class and read an essay aloud.

I had written about my grandmother, who tried to teach me how to read Tarot cards. Grandma had a psychic gift and did readings for some of the older women in our neighborhood. While I didn’t quite demonstrate as potent a gift as Grandma, I was fascinated by ghosts, psychic phenomena, and all manner of paranormal topics.

Well, when my classmates got wind of that… Whoa, mama! It opened the floodgates to all sorts of taunts. Being a kid, I was naive to the fact that the things I thought were “cool,” were not the norm for most of my classmates — who promptly took up calling me “devil girl” for the remainder of middle school. Soon, snide remarks about my weight were thrown into the mix, too.

I started to view myself and my interests differently and became hyper-critical of myself. I almost let others suck the joy out of the things I loved to do most.

The Turning Point

By the time high school arrived, I had lost my “baby fat” and developed an interest in running that rivaled my love of writing. I even ended up making my high school’s track and field team. While this helped to make me (slightly) better accepted by my classmates, I was fortunate enough to have a strong support system in my family and friends from elementary school. I even made a few new friends who actually thought my interest in Tarot — and my Grandma! — were cool. This allowed me to tune out the negativity.

I started to gain some level of self-acceptance, although the seeds of doubt had already been planted by classmates who still continued to make fun of me from time to time.

The turning point in how I viewed myself came when I was looking at pictures of a party a friend of mine had developed. I noticed a girl with dark hair, clear skin, and a huge, beaming smile in several of the photos. I thought to myself, Wow, she’s a really striking looking girl.

And then I realized that girl was me!

I didn’t take too many photos back then since I was so self-conscious of how others saw me. When I finally saw myself through my own eyes, I realized that the joy that I thought was vacuumed out of my life all the way back in 5th grade had been almost completely restored. I was comfortable with who I was. I was happy and healthy with family and friends who loved me for who I was: a slightly off beat aspiring writer / student athlete with a leaning towards the metaphysical.

How to Free Yourself from Self-Imprisonment

Whether you’re a child or an adult who still sees themselves negatively through the eyes of others, you can still free yourself and walk confidently towards self-empowerment.

  1. Embrace your differences. Recognize that the world would be pretty boring if everyone was a carbon copy of each other. Even friends who have similar interests as yours are completely different from one another despite a common bond.
  2. Be your toughest critic and your own best friend. There’s nothing wrong with being critical of yourself, so long as you’re doing so with an eye towards improving the quality of your life and levels of happiness. To do so, start recognizing what you’re good at and work to change the things you may not be happy with.

    If you can, start keeping a journal or dig up old journals you may have kept through the years. Reread entries as “an objective observer” to find a greater empathy for yourself rather than wallowing in self-pity. At the time you kept those journals, you may have thrown yourself a pity party. That’s fine! We’re all entitled! You’ll find you understand what makes you tick when you review your life objectively.

  3. Find a support system. Even if you become your own best friend, no one can be a one-man band.  Tune out the “static” of negativity and “tune in” to your own interests.  Find a band (support system) that you can listen to instead to drown out the noise that’s not conducive to your happiness.
  4. Learn to laugh “with” yourself, not “at” yourself. Television sitcoms with flawed protagonists (think Al Bundy from “Married… With Children” or “The Golden Girls’” Dorothy Zbornak) are loved by audiences because there is a truth to those characters that we recognize in ourselves. We tend to laugh “with” them and not “at” them because we recognize that, like many comic characters, we each have good days and bad days with our self-identity. When you learn to laugh with yourself, situations seem a lot less dour.
  5. Everyone’s “turning point” is different, although it becomes a lot easier to arrive at once you’ve started liking yourself more. Having friends and family who gently nudge you out of your comfort zone and offer support is a huge help in learning to see yourself through your own eyes — or at least a less critical pair of spectacles.

This post was written by Steph Potter on behalf of Psychic Source. Tarot readings, meditation, and a great group of friends keep her balanced and happy.

Over to you…

Ahhh, I think Steph is on to something! In a world full of naysayers, pessimists, energy vampires, misery lovers, and the like, we need to find ways to ensure we keep on keepin’ on with our unique selves and embrace our differences.

How do you improve and/or maintain your self-confidence? Can you identify with Steph growing up with people who ridiculed you because you were different? How did you handle it? Please share!

Wassuper, it’s yo girl, Kesha and I believe we should Be the Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios because life is more interesting when you dare to be different and challenge what’s “normal!” I am wildly passionate about helping highly driven women pursue fantabulous relationships, juicytastic careers/bizzes, and authentically inspired lives.

From Self-Imprisonment to Total Empowerment

Must Reads:

  • Hi there! I just loved this article! I especially related since I was bullied growing up for being different. I also had a psychic grandma. I felt like this article was written for me. When it comes to the self-confidence and self-esteem, I did my best to surround myself with loving people and finding my tribe, even as a kid. It still hurt that I felt “different,” but later as an adult, I realized that the bullies were the ones that really had the self-esteem issues. I saw how wounded they truly were and it helped me feel more compassionate towards them. I still think bullies suck though, but it says more about our society and how much LOVE is really needed. Kids need to be taught to love themselves and accept others. 🙂 Just a few of my ideas 🙂

    • Ooooh, I love how you stated the fact that LOVE is what we need as a society, which could definitely help rid our world of issues such as this. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your thoughts too. I have to get you on the podcast soon to discuss further 😉

      • Hey, you’re welcomed, lady. Btw., I’m starting up a Blogtalkradio show this month and would love to have you as a guest soon. Hit me up 🙂

  • Great piece. When I was in junior high, someone compared me to E.T. which I carried for several years…Took a long time to re-define it all. I can totally relate to this journey. 🙂

    • I’m glad your beautiful self did eventually redefine it Emelia! What are some things you did to do so? Inquiring minds wanna know 🙂

      • It just took a lot of time and as you said, embracing the differences. I often say to myself now that “Ordinary is not a good fit.” I’m great with being left-of-center.

  • Thank you for this inspiring note. Today I felt the “mind imprison” which I created for myself long back. Everything today was not going the way I wanted it to happen. I always feel my past stands in front of me and ruin everything. My past was not filled with sunshine, and I have never really felt happiness. I have been living in my past. But you are right, only “now” is essential. Only now is what’s real. Only now can change. The universe is far too big to worry about anything but NOW. Thanks for sharing the wonderful tips to free yourself from self-imprisonment.

    • And thank you Nathan for sharing your feedback. My hope and desire for you is that you continue to practice living in the NOW daily and that you take it a day at a time to fully embrace your awesomeness, regardless of the past (which we can’t change). But we can change our future by every decision we make right NOW today!

  • I like the tips here a lot though my views are little bit different. I’m a fan of starting each new day from scratch. I like the surprise of it and it cultivates my curiosity. However, most people may find it difficult because they carry over their worries, anger, arguments and discontentment from yesterday, as well as deeply ingrained ideas, concepts, and social conditioning that are they are even aware of. For those people, I would like to recommend meditation so that they can stay in the present, be aware of their thoughts and let go of them if necessary. Thanks for sharing this post!

  • What a great post, and something I’m sure so many people can relate to. It’s always surprising to me as an adult to hear about so many people who were bullied or put down as kids because when I was a kid it felt like everyone else were the ones doing the bullying! You never really see it from someone else’s perspective though until you’re older and you get past it.

    I really like that idea of “quirk theory”. I have to check that one out. I also like the part about laughter. You have to be able to laugh and recognize that we’re all just part of the same fabric and we all go through the same things. Thanks for the inspiration today!

    • Hey Carol, as much as I laugh then I know I’m good! 🙂

      Yes, it’s rather interesting to hear stories from the other side of bullying – from the impacted ones…

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

  • I;m not so sure about the quirk theory! I was into quarks (and other quirky things way back when) and I am not sure I would recommend the treatment as one that trains you for anything!

  • Hello Lakesha and Roy. You are both right. I think everyone suffers from some level of self-esteem because we live in a crazy world. Thank you both for providing tips to overcome self esteem isues. Great info and great post.
    Regards,
    Barbara

  • Hi Steph and Kesha,

    As I was reading and got to the part where you shared growing up I was quiet, shy, and slightly overweight. Me too although people are shocked now when I tell them that.

    I was made fun of some in school too but not to the extent that kids were mean to me nor was I ever bullied. I never shed the weight until my early 20’s but my shyness gradually fell away with each new year, mostly in high school.

    I laugh a lot when people say don’t make fun of the geeks because one day they’ll be your boss. Gosh, isn’t that the truth! I always just thought they were so darn smart and I actually admired them.

    It’s really sad though just how many people have low self esteem issues though and because of the things that have happened to us in our childhood we bring it over with us as we grow. These are great tips though Steph on how people can overcome this. Appreciate you sharing them and I have a feeling they’ll be extremely helpful for others.

    You ladies enjoy your weekend.

    ~Adrienne

    • Adrienne, I was watching an episode of Modern Family when one of the characters (smart daughter) told her sister (cute daughter) that one day her fans (the jocks) would one day be working for her own fans (the geeks). It was too funny! 🙂

      Yes, it is sad and I’m on a mission to help do my part in creating healthier self-images, specially for women and teens.

  • Steph and Lakesha,

    I think self esteem is a very serious problem today. Maybe it has always been a problem but it seems like it is worse today than in the past.

    I like what you said about the baggage that we have from the past. I think everyone has some baggage. It is just what they do with it that make them who they are.

    You can either let it get you down or you can become a better person because of it.

    I really think it is a choice and to many people have the poor me attitude hence, making the choice to let the baggage get them down rather than make them a better person.

    I liked the post. You had some really good points that made me think.

    Dee Ann

    • Dee Ann, it DOES seem like it’s a way bigger problem these days for some reason. Ahhhh, “the poor me attitude” << definitely akin to the Victim syndrome which I will be discussing soon too. 🙂 Grateful for your feedback Dee Ann!

  • Hi Steph and Kesha

    What a great post and these subjects are some of my favorite too. I think we all have stories of growing up that do not support us. I did Speech and Drama when I was at school and spoke sort of the Queen’s English. Now being an Australian that is very uncool as a kid. So I was teased for that.
    I also did dancing and was not so good at sport. This is also uncool in Australia. I learned to distance myself and felt like I was different.

    I love your tips on freeing yourself from self-imprisonment.

    A great post thanks.

    Sue

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