Does Self-Esteem Function as an Emotional Immune System?

Interesting perspective from Dr. Guy Winch:

People usually wish they had higher self-esteem because they want to feel more confident and assured. But having higher self-esteem can do much more for us than simply boost our confidence. A variety of studies have begun to demonstrate that self-esteem can endow us with a layer of emotional resilience when we encounter common psychological injuries such as rejection and failure, as well as insulate us from stress and anxiety. The picture these studies are painting implies that in many ways our self-esteem functions very much like an emotional immune system.

Self-Esteem as an Emotional Immune System

Although experts are still debating what self-esteem actually is (defining such constructs is always tricky in psychology research), we do know quite a bit about what it does. In terms of its general behavior, our self-esteem fluctuates from day to day and sometimes, from hour to hour—much as our physical immune system does. When we’re having a ‘good self-esteem day’, we not only feel different about ourselves but we respond differently to stresses from our environment.

Source: Does Self-Esteem Function as an Emotional Immune System? | Psychology Today

Go to the source to get the rest of his thinking on the topic, especially his thoughts on How to Boost Self-Esteem and Enhance Your Emotional Immune System

Can People Choose Their Emotions Like Spock?

Zachary Quinto as Spock in the 2009 Star Trek film

Troy Campbell writes:

In Star Trek Into Darkness, Spock claims he can choose whether or not to feel an emotion. He makes a good case that in certain situations feelings would not functionally help him and that resisting feelings would spare him from suffering. The always emotionally charged Captain Kirk asks Spock how he does it, claiming that he himself cannot. Continue reading

Change Your Life In 2 Seconds

Pema Chodron writes:

One of the lines that I really like in Gaylon Ferguson’s book Natural Wakefulness is “Distraction is married to discontent.” You could test this out in your own experience. There’s nothing as real and direct and counterhabitual as being present with yourself, just as you are, with your emotions just as they are.

As difficult as that can be, the result of that training is nonstruggle: not rejecting your experience, fully engaged with yourself, with the world, there for other people. Another result of coming back to being with yourself, just as you are, is that emotions don’t escalate. Continue reading

Emotional Abuse

Merely refraining from abusive behaviors will do nothing to improve a relationship, though it may slow its rate of deterioration. To repair the harm done, there must be a corresponding increase in compassion on the part of the abuser. Abusers do not change by receiving compassion; they change by learning to give it. Emotional abuse does not result from storms of anger; it emerges during droughts of compassion.Steven Stosny writes:

Emotionally abusive behavior is anything that intentionally hurts the feelings of another person. Since almost everyone in intimate relationships does that at some time or other, emotionally abusive behavior must be distinguished from an emotionally abusive relationship, which is more than the sum of emotionally abusive behaviors. Continue reading

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Why We Need to Have Compassion for Our Inner Critic

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Kristin Neff writes:

We know how much it hurts. “I’m an idiot!” “I’m disgusting.” “No one will ever love me.” “What a lame-ass.”

So why do we do it? As soon as we ask ourselves this question, we often just pile on more self-criticism. “I’m such a bitch, even to myself.” “That’s why I’m such a loser, I’m always putting myself down.”

Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that somehow it will help you stop beating yourself up. Instead, take a step back, and give your inner critic some slack. In its ineffective, counterproductive way, your inner critic is actually trying to keep you safe.

As humans we have two main evolved safety systems. The oldest and most quickly triggered is the threat defense system, which involves the amygdala. When we sense danger, our response is typically fight, flight, freeze, or submit: We turn and fight the threat, run like hell away from the threat, play dead in hopes the threat will pass, or show our bellies and hope the threat will be placated. These strategies are very successful for animals living in the wild, helping them to survive and pass on their genes. For humans, however, these responses often just make things worse. That’s because the threat we’re usually facing is a threat to our self-concept. We confuse our thoughts and representations of ourselves for our actual selves, meaning that when our self-image is under siege, we react as if our very existence is threatened. Continue reading

You’ll Make It When You Fake It

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Psychology Today reports:

In a newly released study subjects were given stressful tasks while holding chopsticks in their mouths to form a smile, and another group was asked to maintain a smile while performing the stress task.  None of the subjects were not told the true objective of the study and when compared with a control group performing the same stressful activities, both smiling groups had lower heart rates and faster cardiovascular stress recovery than the non-smiling controls.

As Ekman had predicted, when we hold a facial expression reflecting a particular emotion, even when the expression of happiness is faked, we experience some of that faked emotion.   ‘Fake it till you make it’ takes more meaning in light of this and other research along these lines.

These findings suggest that there is a pathway connecting facial muscle activity to our ‘fight/flight’ response and that we can change our physiological and psychological states  by deliberately controlling our facial expressions.  So perhaps the quote by Mark Twain is true, “The world always looks brighter behind a smile.”

The next time you are feeling stressed, have a difficult task, or just wake up on the grumpy side of the bed, smile for a while and see how your mood can change for the better.” via You’ll Make It When You Fake It | Psychology Today.

I first heard about this reading Tony Robbin’s book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ and yesterday I tried it and it actually worked for me!

I got sucked into being a timer for a swim meet with over 500 kids and 88 different events and multiple heats. First of all, I don’t even like competitive swimming — that’s my wife’s thing and my son was having his first meet. My wife had volunteered for a 4 hour shift and not only did a volunteer not come to relieve her but I became a backup timer and then a timer when other people left their shift. It was hot, wet and hard on the joints standing on a pool deck for 9 hours. I remembered what I had heard from Tony Robbins earlier in the week and put it into practice. Every time I started

The Frustration Situation

Craig Harper shares these thoughts:

Frustration: it affects all of us at some stage. It’s a part of the human experience and it’s an emotion that doesn’t discriminate. We often find ourselves frustrated when things don’t turn out the way we expected or hoped they would or should. More often than not, our frustration is triggered by something (a situation, a conversation, a circumstance, a person, an event) which is beyond our immediate control.

Like that idiot who lives across the road.

Having said that, what is in our control, is our reaction. Like all emotions, frustration is a personal response to something that’s happening (or not happening, as the case may be) in our world. And while most people believe it’s the external stimulus that produces our internal response, in reality, our frustration is self-created. The challenge is not to overcome frustration (as such) but rather, to learn to manage it as opposed to being managed by it.

So, having worked with the frustrated multitudes for years, I thought I’d share a few suggestions that you might find helpful.

1. Don’t Try to Change People. Trying to change others (we’ve all done it) is an exercise in frustration and, at times, disconnection and aggravation. Giving people unwanted advice, direction or feedback (no matter how well-intended) will invariably end in tears. Either literally or metaphorically. Keep in mind that unwanted input or commentary is typically interpreted as criticism.

2. Stop Wasting Your Emotional Energy. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. All too often, we invest our emotional energy into things (situations, circumstances, issues) over which we have little or no control. Not surprisingly, sending our blood pressure through the roof while screaming at a sporting event on television (for example) won’t change the outcome. Or the umpire’s stupid decisions. In fact, the only thing it might do is send us to an early grave. Oh, and possibly, annoy the crap out of everyone else within earshot.

3. Stop Juggling. Stop doing fifty things poorly and focus your time and energy on doing the important things well. That is, prioritise. I had to learn this lesson as I once had a propensity to bite off more than I could chew. Many of us simply take on more things than we can do well. Sometimes the answer is to put certain things on hold in order to be able to make progress in other areas. As a rule, over-commitment leads to exhaustion, anxiety and frustration. And eventually, physical illness. So, what’s the best use of your time, skill and energy right now? The answer to that question is your starting point.

4. Stop Aiming for Perfection. Aim for better. Aim for improvement. Aim for growth. Our society’s obsession with perfection has led to unrealistic expectations, unhealthy thinking, mass frustration and disappointment. Of course frustration will be the result when our goal is unattainable. When perfection is the goal, no result will ever be good enough.

5. Be Patient. Stop trying to reinvent yourself by next Tuesday. It took you a long time to get where you are now (practically, financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically, sociologically), so be realistic with your expectations as you work towards creating the new and improved version of you. I’m always amazed by people who have punished their body for decades (with atrocious eating, zero exercise and poor lifestyle habits) who then find a way to be disappointed and frustrated when they don’t look like a supermodel or elite athlete two weeks into their ‘weight-loss kick’. Good grief.

6. Stop Relying on Others to Get You There (wherever there is). It’s great to have support, encouragement and help along the way, but it’s not great to be totally dependant on others to make our dreams a reality. While it’s healthy to be part of a team of people who are all on the same page and all moving in the same direction, it’s still important for us to be functional, productive and effective on our own. Independent and strong. Being totally reliant on someone else (to reach our goals) is an exercise in both frustration and disempowerment.

7. Compare Yourself to Others – with Caution. Comparing ourselves to others rarely results in something positive. It can, but typically, it won’t. Invariably, it will focus our attention on what we don’t have or what we haven’t done and lead to self-pity and/or frustration. Having said that, it can work in our favour when we make it. Comparisons can be a positive when we use the achievements of others with similar attributes, potential and opportunities (to us) as a source of motivation, inspiration, learning and perspective for our own journey.

Now… deep breaths. :)

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Source: The Frustration Situation

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Expect Nothing; Get Everything

Life is rarely what we expect it to be. Sometimes, it’s better than we expect. Other times, it just is as it is.

Set your expectations to zero, show up at 110% every day, and your positive attitude will drive your 110% experience of life.

Moreover, you won’t be depleting precious mental energy by beating yourself and others up because you’re disappointed and angry at not having your expectations met.

Having low expectations does not mean that you don’t “go for it,” establish goals, or have visionary dreams. Setting your expectations to zero means that you are able to minimize your emotional setbacks that deplete and drain your vision of valuable energy. When you’re able to accept the outcome as it is, then you can rise from any fall, thus increasing your personal power of resiliency to move forward more quickly. When you give it your best shot and you miss, it’s not seen as a failure. Instead, it’s just another opportunity to step up to the plate and do it better next time.

When your child tries out for an activity and doesn’t make the “A” list, then you encourage him or her by saying: “It’s ok. Practice some more; enjoy what you are doing, and try, try, try again.” Life as an adult is no different. The game of life is like a sport; it takes practice. And the practice here is giving it your very best shot and accepting the end result without engaging in negative thoughts that lead you to feeling low. On playing fields, this is called good sportsmanship. In life, it’s called having a winning attitude.

Expect nothing and you’ll have everything. Strive every moment you’re alive to bring an attitude of excellence and integrity to your actions and words, and the end result will reflect the brilliance you bring.

You will find that if you can go with the flow then it’s far easier to be in the flow.

Get the rest here: Expect Nothing to Have Everything « Positively Positive

On-the-Beach

6 Ways to Decrease Your Suffering

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The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it.” ~Helen Keller

You’ve probably heard the saying “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

For a many years, I didn’t understand how pain and suffering were different from each other. They seemed inextricably wrapped up together, and I took it for granted that one was the inevitable consequence of the other.

However, as I have grown to understand my own capacity to create happiness, I noticed something interesting about the nature of my suffering.

As I reflect back on painful episodes in my life, I can recall losing people who were dear to me. I remember abrupt changes in jobs, housing, and other opportunities that I believed were the basis of my happiness.

In each of those experiences the immediate visceral pain was searing, like a hot knife cutting through my heart. Then afterwards came grief, an emotional response to loss that arose quite naturally.

But closely on the heels of physical pain and emotional grief comes something else, something that I create in my own mind even though it feels quite real. That something else is “suffering.” Full story at: 6 Ways to Decrease Your Suffering | Tiny Buddha.

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Self approval

 

Melody Beattie writes:

Most of us want to be liked. We want other people to think of us as nice, friendly, kind, and loving. Most of us want the approval of others.

Since childhood, some of us have been trying to get approval, trying to get people to like us and think highly of us. We may be afraid people will leave us if they disapprove of our actions. We may look for approval from people who have none to give. We may not know that we’re lovable now and can learn to approve of ourselves.

In order to live happily, to live consistently with the way our Higher Power wants us to live, and to tap into a way of life that is in harmony with the universe, we need to let go of our extreme need for approval. These unmet needs for approval and love from our past give others control over us today. These needs can prevent us from acting in our best interest and being true to ourselves.

We can approve of ourselves. In the end, that’s the only approval that counts.

Today, I will let go of my need for approval and my need to be liked. I will replace them with a need to like and approve of myself. I will enjoy the surprise I find when I do this. The people who count, including myself, will respect me when I am true to myself.” via Just For Today Meditations – Daily Recovery Reading – September 10, 2012.