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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Lately, I seem to be dealing with a lot of people who have gone through some really – I mean REALLY – tough times. Every idea, thought, dream, confidence is being tested and the result is that they are having difficulty trusting in their own abilities. They have lost a sense of
self which has created low self-esteem. Each and every one of these people who have always been self-confident, problem-solvers, often gave advice to others on how to improve the other person’s life. The spark seems to be out of feeding flint. There’s no little bundle of fuzz to help catch the spark into a blaze. Something is wrong.

Many times over the years, I could relate to the above paragraph. Many times I have said I was just going to walk away from everything that appeared to be creating a problem including the blog, the support groups, my husband, the house, and even, my dog and cat. I know. I know. Running away is never the answer. But, when things seem to “not be fixable” and I can’t figure out what to do, I doubt my abilities to finish or DO whatever needs to be done. My self-confidence is trampled upon until it’s just as flat as a critter run over by an 18-wheeler.

I can hear my mother telling me to “get over it” and to “pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it”, and (my personal favorite) “if you aren't solving the problem then you ARE the problem.” Phew!! My mother was a great believer in using a work-around system to try and try again. If one thing didn't work, try a different approach, make a new plan, but don’t ever quit.

Although a bit drill-sargent-y-ish, I think my mother was right. Mother’s always seem more right as we get on in years. Wish I had listened to her more when I was in my 30s rather than waiting til my 60s.

Anyway, I believe there are ways to build our self-esteem after a devastating disaster in our lives. One of the most common is to seek professional help. A good therapist can go a long way to making us understand that not every loss or fail is a sign that we are not competent.

I have some simpler things that I often do when I start to feel defeated. I go to the salon and get pampered a bit. Invite a friend and after the makeover go for coffee, dinner, or anything that is out of the ordinary. A physical change can sometimes led to a mental change.

Do something physical. Go for a walk, swim, or to the gym for a nice sweaty workout. While improving your health you can improve your state-of-mind. I find that when I’m walking I often let my mind wander and sometimes it strikes upon a solution to my current issue. I don’t consciously seek the answer, I just let my mind go and do its own thing.

For a financial issue, I get advice from my banker or anyone who knows and understands accounting, budgets, etc. Maybe someone can help set up a budget or review the situation. When I'm totally stressed over not having enough money, I take a look at my own budget and see where I can cut expenses or how I can best pay the bills around my paydays. Sometimes I call the creditor and ask if some kind of arrangement can be made to help the situation.

Don’t forget about the BIG bills. I constantly worried about the IRS until I called them and worked out a plan to get caught up on my back taxes. It was easier than I thought it would be and now I’m not thinking I’m a low life because I owe money to the government.

A friend of mine was fired from her job after 17 years of very loyal service. The firing had nothing to do with her job performance or ability. But, after being denied for unemployment and applying for jobs all over the state, she feels “unemployable” and “incompetent.” She fears she will never work again in a field in which she has always excelled. I suggested that she go to a temp agency and take on simple assignments. That way her self-confidence might come back up to par. Maybe she could go back to school and take a few classes that would show her that she’s capable of learning something new.

If you doubt your ability as a parent, re-evaluate your how you have handled parental crises in the past. Take a long hard look at your children and ask yourself: Are they healthy? Are they clean? Are they well-fed? Are they happy? Is there anything you would not do to keep them safe? If you feel you are doing the best you can, then that’s all you can do. Don’t ask anyone if you are a good parent. People have a tendency to tell you what they think you want to hear. This would be a great topic for that professional counselor that I was talking about earlier.

The most important thing about getting your mo-jo back is --  don’t stop. Don’t give up and let someone else’s ideas run your life. Whatever it is that is making you feel inadequate is the thing you need to do more of. You might not succeed on the first couple of tries. But if you quit you will always feel as though you CAN’T do whatever the thing is. Instead just keep trying and telling yourself that you CAN. Tell yourself that often and soon you will believe it. Once you believe it, then you will DO what needs to be done. Think outside the box, get a new plan, and look at your options.

It isn't that you’re not good enough or just can’t, it’s that just haven’t found the key to your dilemma. Patiently try every key on the ring and eventually one will open the door. 


coping said...

Thank you , Linda. I needed that pep talk today!

Jordan said...

Great post! There's lots of great advice here. I like your mother's approach of, if plan A doesn't work, you make a plan B, you don't just quit. She sounds like a strong spirit. Thanks for sharing!