"Fruit, Bologna", Kathy Reid
Self-Esteem and Self-Love
There are many faces of self-love. There is the face of a loved and cared for baby who has just learned to walk and knows he is wonderful and loved and so “full of himself” as he should be basking in the adoration of loving parents.
There is the face of the Narcissist who proclaims to all to listen how great and wonderful he is and demands that others agree and shout praises. He is driven by his need to be loved. The purpose of others in his life is to fill that need. As a therapist I wonder about the wounded inner child and shadow of a narcissist. So desperate for love that everything must be justified or blamed on others. Accepted norms of community do not matter. There is no compassion for those who disagree. He cruelly attacks them. He must discredit anyone who threatens his reality. He unknowingly carries his empty bucket for need with him without realizing that his bucket has no bottom. There is never enough love. This face of self-love and self-esteem is a sham designed to deceive. The tenuous hold on the narcissist’s reality must be defended at all costs.
On the other hand, there is the Dalai Lama. His love is universal and comes from who he is. He lives it. He even laughs at himself. He radiates love and compassion. Self-esteem is a natural outcome.
There is the face of kindness and non-judgment that radiates love and self-esteem in many ways. Love is reflected in love. It is effortless when coming from someone with genuine self esteem. In STAR we work to go deeply within and uncover our pain and grief and find the essence of our love. We earn our secure attachment. Because love is the opposite of fear, as fear diminishes, love grows. This is the heart of what STAR is about. Love’s gift is self-esteem.
2018 Spring STAR Retreat
April 13, 2018 to April 22, 2018
2018 Summer STAR Retreat
July 20, 2018 to July 29, 2018
2018 Fall STAR Retreat
October 19, 2018 to October 28, 2018
"Flower Shop, Torino", Kathy Reid
By STAR participant Audrey Klatkiewicz
A sudden flash and thunder clap
Filled me with overwhelming fear.
When from the electrified sky
A white clay figure did appear.
He began a resolute approach
Toward where I was safely set apart.
He turned and softly said to me,
"I've come to bring you your heart."
Mystified by these words which
Seemed wrongly directed at me,
He sensed my hesitancy and said,
"come along and you will see."
As we walked a nearby stoney path,
I wondered what I would finally learn.
Then suddenly he left my side and
Told me to remain until his return.
Impatience sorely tested me,
Yet I obeyed his spoken command.
At last, the shadowy figure emerged
With another, walking hand in hand.
As they silently approached me,
The sight set my mind in a whirl.
Where was the heart he promised?
My eyes only beheld a little girl.
Her sad eyes looked at me
As I scanned her bespectacled face.
She seemed so lost and forlorn
And most definitely out of place.
I was moved to extend a welcoming hand;
Instead she came with open arms.
It was as if she instinctually knew
That with me, she was safe from harm.
The warmth and love of that embrace
Through my whole body surged.
It was as if we were now one
With hearts that had merged.
Instantaneously, I truly knew
I'd found that for which I yearned.
That long ago lost part of me,
My Inner Child, had now returned.
The white clad figure looked upon me
And said it was time for him to part.
His final words lovingly spoken to me,
"Search no more. You now have your heart."
On Self-Esteem and Self-Love
If you came upon a miserable child, shivering and freezing in the snow, would you be disappointed in the child, or angry at them, or embarrassed by them? Would you berate the child for being neglected and lost? If that child had trouble speaking or asking for help, or seemed wounded and abused, would your response be to shrug and tell yourself it’s not your problem? Would you shame the child for suffering and turn away?
Or would you instinctively want to comfort and help the child, pick them up, hold them close, warm them, tell them that everything is going to be alright and they are not alone?
What are the things you consider to be your catastrophic failures and flaws, whether they are in your family life, your relationships, your work, your sense of deficient achievements or skills? Is it your drinking, your smoking, your sex life, your gambling? What aspects of your body feels disastrous and miserable to you? The fat on your thighs, or the shapes of your nose or chin? All of these things about which you rage at yourself, all of these flaws and failures that you know are your fault – in fact they are just like that miserable child, freezing to death in the snow.
When did your failures begin? When you were a tiny baby? Before that, in your mother’s womb? That is of course ridiculous.
So when will it be time to make a different choice, to offer comfort and compassion to yourself instead of looking the other way and walking by, or feeling only contempt, shouting scorn and blame?
Many writers I know, including some of my creative writing students, will say of a work in progress that they know it’s worthless, that it’s “crap.” Writing is hard enough without someone whispering in your ear that all your words on those first pages are crappy. When I hear this, I challenge it, asking them (no matter their gender) to imagine being, say, six months pregnant. Would they call the fetus a “crappy baby”? Of course not! They would think of the baby as a work in progress, not a piece of crap but something still being formed and nurtured before it is complete.
That voice of contempt in your ear is probably very old, perhaps originating in a raging parent or teacher who shamed you and deliberately took the wind out of your sails, knocked you down a few pegs. Have you perpetuated this voice? What’s it doing for you? Is it fueled by a very old fear of being too sure, too confident?
My grandson Wilder, at two and a half, has taught me something about self-esteem this summer. Whenever he succeeds at a task, whether it is throwing a ball or fitting two little train cars together, he exclaims, “Well done, Wa Wa!” He also laughs at himself, so if he drops something or misses a connection, he will exclaim with equal joy, “Silly Wa Wa!” before making another attempt. Nobody has taught this to him. We have no idea where this confident self-narration comes from.
What would it be like to feel that way about your own small attempts and triumphs every day, instead of believing a perpetually contemptuous and critical voice that shames you? When did you get the message that self-esteem was risky, something to hide?
Here’s a challenge: At least three times every day, praise yourself for a success of the moment, no matter how insignificant it might feel to you. Great socks with that shirt? Well done you! Healthy lunch? Well done you! Allow yourself to hear and enjoy this voice, and perhaps, over time, that old critical voice will begin to fade.
Katharine Weber, STAR Facilitator
(see below, a photo of Wilder, taken 6 months ago)
Self-esteem and self-love were not frequent visitors in my house when I was young. I got to know self-esteem as I lived more and did some things I was proud of. Self-love was a bit more difficult to come by.
Kenny Ball, STAR Facilitator
When I was a kid the little self-esteem I had came out when I played sports. I wasn’t afraid. I was good at sports and I loved playing sports. Socially, however, it was a different story. I had little to no self-esteem and zero confidence. I couldn’t talk to girls at all—unless I was drunk. No, I didn’t have much self-esteem in social situations until I started my own business. I felt good about my business and about myself. But even then it was touch and go. Gradually, as I experienced more and accomplished more, I had more and more self-esteem. But still, that self-esteem was based on accomplishments. It didn’t fully become self-esteem simply for who I was until I developed or uncovered my self-love.
Self love came when I finally felt safe enough to let myself feel my feelings and be my self. In doing so I got in touch with what was underneath my fear. I got in touch with the little kid I once was, before that kid began to feel he was bad and unworthy. I got in touch with the hurt in him, and I got in touch with his innocence. That’s when I got in touch with the love in me and for him. In other words, I felt love for my self. I was then able to stop beating myself up and ignoring that little guy. He’s always deserved better. He’s always deserved love, support, and protection. And that’s what he gets now. Sure, I mess up sometimes. I forget. But nothing like I used to. And when I do, I deal with it much sooner than I used to. And having that love inside for him, for myself, lets me have love for others. It lets me have love in my life. It makes a huge difference in my life.
"Belagio Steps", Kathy Reid
Statistics show that 14.2% of the U.S. population is currently experiencing psychological crisis. Jane found her way to STAR in 2016.
Photos copyright and courtesy Kathy Reid and Katharine Weber. Authors of written submissions retain full copyright.
“I still can’t believe that I am well!, Jane writes. “I was so sick that I wasn’t going to make it. It just wasn’t worth the fight anymore. I had given up and was on my way out, always thinking of the best way to go, that would be the easiest on my kids. I just wasn’t good for them and didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Making the difficult decision to go to STAR was a last ditch effort that I told myself I would give 110% effort to get all that I could from the retreat. I really didn’t think anything would help me. People need to know that My journey at STAR truly saved my life. I got ME back, my kids and husband got ME back! I am so happy. Now I want to live more than anything.”
This is one of the many testimonials the STAR staff receives after a STAR retreat. These experiences validate our work. It is truly gratifying to share in each unique journey to recovery. Due to the lack of resources, there are only a few scholarships available at each retreat. The typical scholarship requested is from $800 – $1500. With donations like yours, we can serve larger numbers of people in crisis so that they may experience the transformation and healing they need.
We hope that you will continue to donate and to refer your family, friends or clients to STAR to experience the healing and hope for their lives as so many of you have. We want as many as possible to experience STAR firsthand as we continue the work that Barbara has created.
A heart felt thank you for your continued support of STAR!
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