Secret Keys to Self Empowerment: Assessing the Damage

To understand the ways to empower ourselves it helps if we can understand something about the ‘damage’ which can happen to each part of ourselves, which prevent us being empowered. This understanding is important because if we are mostly damaged in, say, our sense of Self Worth that would require a very different approach to fixing damage to our Self Confidence or Self Respect.
The three aspects of ourselves are very closely interelated, so damage to one part can affect the functioning of the other parts too. For example, damage to our Self Confidence may affect our Self Esteem and vice versa. Just like heavy damage to one leg of a three-legged stool can cause the stool to wobble or fall over. This close connection between the different parts can sometimes make it tricky to tell which part of us is damaged.
Damage to Self Confidence: because our Self Confidence is mostly about how we relate to the world, damage to our Self Confidence is usually about things we have done or said. In other words good old fashioned guilt. The guilt may or may not be justified. It may have been laid onto us by others, or by social pressure which was unfair or biased. Excessive guilt can block us from taking action when action is appropriate. It may even stop us from looking at how we can make amends for some harm which we have done.
Damage to Self Worth: because our Self Worth is mostly about how we relate to our inner world and what we believe we are worth, damage to our Self Worth usually takes the form of shame. It can also take the form of rage. Rage seems to be one of the ways we protect ourselves from the pain of shame.
We may just put a blanket of rage over our shame, so if you see yourself going into a rage for no apparent reason see if there is shame underneath.
Damage to Self Respect: because our Self Respect is mostly about our relationship with God (or spirit, our values, our highest aspirations, etc.), damage to Self Respect takes the form of purposelessness. When our Self Respect is damaged we might feel that life has no purpose and no meaning and that it is is just not worth living. This is so common nowadays – because of the lack of awareness healthy Self Respect is so lacking – that it may unfortunately be considered normal by some and not identified as a problem needing to be dealt with.
How to know where your are damaged.
If you are naturally wary of the ‘world’ and feel challenged by getting setting goals and meeting them it could be that you are low in Self Confidence and probably prone to guilt. It may not mean that you have done anything wrong. If others have used guilt to punish you, or control your behaviour, you may have learned to avoid relating to the world out of fear. If you are more prone to guilt than others this can make it easier for you to feel guilty for even the most minor mistake and this can set up a pattern within you of whereby you eventually become unable to life the kind of life you aspire to. You may have retreated into your inner world.
If you don’t really like yourself and cannot stand to look at yourself in the mirror, then you are probably low in Self Worth. If you are low in Self Worth this may make you often feel shy, as ‘shyness’ can be a form of shame. If you are unsure as to whether there is anything good about you, or are quite definite that there isn’t, these are very strong indications of damage to your Self Worth.
If you often find yourself feeling that life is pointless (not just your own life, but all life) and purposeless you are probably low in Self Respect. Even though there may be wonderful things in your life. You may have a successful career, fabulous relationship and so on, yet it all seems empty and pointless (or you may not have these things but feel your life would be empty even if you did have them). This a sign of low Self Respect.
In all of the above each of the forms of ‘damage’ has a role in maintaining health. It is when they they go too far that the problem arises. If an overly strong sense of guilt, shame or purposelessness had been cultivated within us we will tend to affected by this till be become aware of the damage and repair it.
Healthy guilt can cause us to modify our behavoiur and make amends for a harmful action on our part. Healthy shame can cause us to adopt a wise humility and not cast ourselves as being more valuable than others. Even a sense of ‘purposelessness’ can offer life changing opportunities when if causes us to re-examine our current lifestyle and where it matches our deepest, most heart-felt, values.
Occassional bursts of guilt, shame or purposelessness are normal, but if any of them becomes a constant background feeling that is a sign of damage. Just as these parts of ourselves are interlinked then so too are the types of damage. Damage to Self Worth may cause us to get into a rage, which in turn causes us to do or say something harmful to someone, which in turn causes us to feel guilty – and if we don’t have a strong sense of Self Respect to bolster us – we may find ourselves getting really low and telling ourselve that all of life us stupid and pointless.This is the pits when all the damaged voices are sounding off at the same time.

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