19 July 2013

Building my house of Confidence


My therapist suggested I study cognitive distortions.  As Fancy Nancy would say “That’s just a fancy way of saying negative thoughts.”  Everyone has cognitive distortions, we all have erred thinking, but the psychologically unwell, like myself, have these thoughts at an incapacitating level.  These thoughts keep me from being emotionally healthy. 

There are dozens of identified cognitive distortions but one that I’ve found to be a habitual practice of mine is “PERSONALIZATION.”  There is great irony in that term because just about everything in my life feels personal except psychology vernacular. 

Personalization is when I make everything about me. 

I have an old friend from childhood who has done some impressive things with her life.  Both personally and professionally she serves humanity worldwide and advocates for women in particular. She is also a wife and mother and I have confidence she fills those roles well.  She periodically posts pictures on Instagram of her international travels to exciting places, where she does genuine, good work for people.   I find that after I see these posts instead of appreciating her efforts for the greater good, admiring her ambition and skill, and feeling happy for her life experiences; I feel jealous, depressed, and painfully inadequate. 

All of the sudden the inspiring work of a gifted soul has become about ME, and my insecurities.  Her success means my failure.  Her accomplishments are superior, mine inferior.  All of this making her worth to the world greater, and my worth less.  Worthless.  
My boys are obsessed with all things Star Wars, including the Weird Al rendition of "American Pie" titled "Anakin." I have it memorized.  Lately I've been thinking about how it is interesting that Yoda felt Anakin wasn’t qualified to be a Jedi because he sensed fear.    I’m sure he sensed Anakin’s insecurities, pride, anger and desire for power, but the ultimate deal breaker was fear. 

Fear is a sneaky thing.  It masks itself as low self-esteem or ego.  It is disguised in jealousy and even artificial confidence.  But without a doubt I know my personalization comes from fear. 

Fear of being fundamentally less than others.  Fear that my contributions are less valuable.  Fear that if people don’t perceive me as kind, then that means I am not kind. (Or intelligent, or successful.)  

I imagine a world without those fears.  I dream of a world where all the amazing things other people do enhance my joy, rather than detract from it.  A world where I do not fear other’s perceptions of me because I have an internal and abiding understanding that I can contribute and my existence is worthwhile, in spite of my shortcomings.  But even underneath my house of confidence and reassurance, in my mind’s eye, I construct a foundation of knowledge that I have inherent worth.  It is neither less than those whose lives seem to exceed mine in value, nor is it greater than those whose lives deliberately or incidentally destroy my perceived value. 

It just exists.  It is the opposite of fear.  It is profound personal acceptance and peace.  It is not influenced by the behavior, attitude or accomplishments of others.  It is liberating.  It gives me freedom to act, to live, to be vulnerable, to make mistakes, and to love others in spite of their mistakes.  It is my mantra. 


So why the heck can’t I believe it?


  1. I had a boyfriend in high school right around the same time I really began to understand Christ and his atonement and the worth of us people. This boyfriends dad repeatedly called him "worthless" for not doing whatever chore, or his perceived laziness. At that time, with my blossoming understanding of our innate worth, I became simultaneously sick and angry at the thought of anyone, ever, being called worthless. How is it, that like you, I know better, but can't believe it about myself? Did it start with the porn or were those insecurities always there, and just deepened by the effects of addiction?

    1. I think my insecurities were always there, but I also feel like they are getting worse and not better no thanks to addiction.

  2. this is an incredible post.

    I love your writing style.

  3. I really appreciate how real you are in this post. I see courage in your vulnerability. Since courage is the opposite of fear, you are already on your way.

  4. Thanks Jane:) I needed this post! I struggle with many of your same feelings when I see someone else who has it all together. I am just beginning to scratch the surface of my own cognitive distortions.

  5. I have always believed that I loved myself. After all, I "know" intellectually that I have "infinite worth" and am a "daughter of God." But as I have progressed through my own recovery journey, I have come to find just how little I love myself. The journey of loving myself and accepting myself, "warts and all," has been eye opening. I'm coming to see that not only do I generally not believe I am enough or love or accept myself, but this is the biggest stumbling block in me being able to love and accept others as they are. The problem isn't really with the way I feel about other people. The root is how I feel about myself. Ultimately, like everything else in my life, I'm finding it has to start with me. I'm still working through it, so I don't have much advice, but I sure hear ya!

  6. Great thoughts! And you already know what I think about this subject. Xoxo

  7. This is a great post! And I think you would be a great Jedi ;) s.

  8. Thought I would share a post I did on cognitive distortions. I love this topic as it can be powerful stuff when we are able to shift our way of thinking. http://findingfrecklesblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/distorted.html