In this post I talked about my early negative experiences and how those experiences created the bottom line thoughts that I have. These are the thoughts that I have been focussing on combating since I started reading Melanie Fennell’s book at the beginning of this year:
Rejection: I am unattractive to the opposite sex in every conceivable way
Criticism: I am not good enough. I will never be good enough
Lack of praise: Because of the above, I do not deserve praise
Lack of interest: I am a boring person. My interests are not worthwhile
Being the odd one out: I am weird
Next we move onto Rules For Living. These are a rule, or in some cases a set of rules, that allow you to function in the world with low self-esteem. They allow you to operate effectively in life so long as they are obeyed. Despite that they are coping mechanisms, they only confirm bottom line beliefs about ourselves. I will not go into detail about how to work out what they are as I do not want to deprive Melanie Fennell of an income, so I’m just going to list my rules for living.
1. Do not fall in love. I will only get my heart broken again. If she (any “she”) likes me, she will tell/show me. If she doesn’t, then she is clearly not interested. Do not say anything or display body language that might hint at my attraction
2. I must attempt to achieve perfection in everything I do. Only then will I be good enough. Ignore being ill, plough on through it when feeling low because otherwise I have failed and I am already a failure so let’s try some damage limitation here
3. I must already know what I am doing. To ask for help or clarification is a sign of failure. It is a sign that I am too stupid to understand what is required
4. I will receive praise for the things I do. Ignore it. Shrug it off. They are mistaking my knowledge of one particular thing for competence. Let’s face it, it’s pretty minor stuff that anybody can do when they’ve been shown how
5. Don’t talk to others about my interests. They might interest me but other people will and do find them boring. I am boring. And I am weird for being into that stuff anyway
These rules despite that they might be perceived by the self as ways of getting through life actually keep self-esteem low because they make impossible demands. I imagine most who read this list are thinking the exact same thing and that a few of you said out loud “Seriously… don’t fall in love?! What kind of screwed up thinking is that? How could you even stop yourself?”
And you’re absolutely right and fighting those negative thoughts and the methods for doing so is key to working through this book. I’m doing well with 2, 3 and 4 but for obvious and ongoing reasons, number 1 is a tougher nut to crack. As for 5… well, let’s say I’m getting there. In the next post in this category I’m going to talk about my trigger situations.
I’m really only discussing how this book has helped me. If you have low self esteem and you feel you need help but can’t afford / don’t want therapy then this book could help you. I am not associated with Melanie Fennell in any way and she is not paying me to promote her book