Why do I have so much self-esteem? I work at it.

Self esteem. Pass it on.

Clearly, I would not be friends with people who are not awesome, so I am mystified by one friend's low self-esteem. I told her that, if I could, I would gladly give her some of my self-esteem because sometimes I feel like I have too much. We were chatting online with a few of our other girlfriends at the time, and one asked why is it that I have so much self-esteem when they have so little. I didn't always.

Why do I have so much self-esteem? Innate narcissism is the most likely answer. Thinking that I am better than most people I meet can't be hurting either.

Kidding! Mostly.

It's much easier on yourself if you are kind to yourself and think nice things about yourself. You can stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. There's a psychological technique called thought-stopping that is rather simple to master. If you Google it, you'll see that it doesn't work for panic disorders or chronic worry, but it absolutely works for replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Have a couple of positive phrases about yourself worked out in advance. Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself, say, "STOP!" in your mind, then think the positive thought. It is that easy.

I am not the prettiest, or the slimmest, or the smartest, or the funniest, or the anything-est, but I am great. I like who I am. I like most things about myself, and I am actively trying to change the things I don't like. That is the best that I can do, so there is no need for me to be the one to berate myself for anything. I am a pathological overachiever. This makes me come down very hard on myself, but it is almost always about how much I can achieve, not who I am.

Rejection is difficult for anyone, myself included. It stings, but I shake it off with no damage to my self-esteem. When I am rejected (for a job or a potential client, by a man...), I chalk it up to fit. I don't take it personally, at least not for too long. I like who I am, and I can't be anything else other than that, so if I am rejected for something about who I am, it's fine. It means I was not a good fit, and that situation would not have ended well.

It does not mean I was not smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, funny enough...

I am more than enough. I am awesome.

You Always Have Another Option

The only thing I remember from all the Michael Crichton books I have read is one line from SPHERE. I tweeted it earlier today in response to a discussion I was having with someone about being stuck in her miserable job.


In the book, one of the characters was in a situation from which it looked like there was no escape. He needed to get to another part of the sub and the access tunnel was blocked by something ominous. (The details are as murky as the depths of the ocean after all these years.) He was nearly in a state of panic until he remembered something he had learned from a mentor: you always have another option. He put on a suit and went around the outside of the sub to reach his destination. I believe this option was only slightly less perilous than staying put and waiting for certain death.

You always have another option. Always. No exception. In every situation you can possibly conceive, there is more than one option for action you can take. You may not always have a better option, but you always have another option. When I feel like I am stuck in a situation, or that I am forced into an option I don't want to take, I remember that I always have another option. I think about what my options are and I choose the best course of action or, depending on the situation, the course of action that is the least bad.

Thinking this way keeps me from feeling hopeless even in the worst of situations. It empowers me to take action and to feel good about the choice I have made. The one option I never choose is to let myself wallow in self-pity while things fall apart around me.

I'm not the best me I can be, which sounds as lame as it is.

Since last year, I have been trying to improve my life by doing new things or doing things differently, like getting more sleep, taking a break from MBA classes, getting rid of clutter, taking care of my skin, eating better, planning meals, cooking at home more, and caring more about my outward appearance. Some  things have stuck and others have not and, for all that effort, I am only a little happier than I was before.

This afternoon, I thought about things in a different way. I'm not doing anything wrong; I'm doing everything half-assed. Perhaps, if I concentrated on doing everything to the best of my ability, instead of doing the least that is called for, I would be happier with the results.

Call for Opinions: What is your minimum definition of cheating?

I received a comment on a five-year-old post about cheating at The Peevery. What is your minimum definition of cheating? Where is the line between cheating and inappropriate behavior?

This is what I think, but I want to know what you think.

I am now forced to broaden my definition of cheating... If you are in an exclusive relationship and you have a conversation or an encounter with someone else, if you cannot recount that conversation word for word to your partner or you cannot describe that encounter to your partner in detail without discomfort, then you have behaved inappropriately. It's like foreplay to cheating and it is going to earn you a punch in the mouth if your partner is me.

Read the whole post: Exploratory Poonani

Exercise Self-Control

This week, I read and commented on a post on The post was a review of a new book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, about how and what children learn. I don't know if they were listed in the order of importance in the blog post, but the first item on the list was "Focus and Self-Control."

The blogger asked readers which life skills have served them best in life. I commented that self-control is an essential skill necessary in every aspect of life. It's the one that I think is the most useful for everyone, in every situation, dealing with every kind of person. It's also the skill in which I think I am the most deficient.

I feel strongly that if I were able to exercise more self-control on a daily basis, my life would improve. I posted a couple weeks ago about how I exercise self-control when speaking to others in How Not to Be a Know-It-All. I am good at keeping my temper in check. I can refrain from driving like a maniac. I don't cheat on my husband. I don't yell at my kids or spank them.

That's where my list ends. I'm at a loss to think of other ways in which I exercise self-control. I feel like I am undisciplined, lazy, and weak when it comes to most things. I need to reign in my bad habits and I haven't yet found a workable strategy for doing so.