Saturday, September 16, 2006

An Invitation to Contribute

By far the most common element in the questions I receive relates to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Many people feel badly about themselves in some way, which causes them to doubt whether they are truly worthy of love and respect. This can exhibit itself in many ways. An insecure single girl may stay with a boyfriend who isn't quite right for her because she worries no one else will want her. A married woman is aware that her husband loves her but suffers the pain of "knowing" he can't do so fully because of her perceived inadequacies.

To help with this, I have an idea for a series of articles (or even a book) called:

High Maintenance and WELL Worth It!
Why Men Really Do Love Women Like You

Think of this as "Chicken Soup for the Insecure Soul." Each article/chapter provides messages of support and empowerment related to one type of insecurity, arguing why there is no need to feel unworthy in this regard.

Men also have insecurities but tend not to read this type of material as often, hence the focus on women. (Take for example the number of women versus men commenting on this site.)

"I worry that guys don't love women like me because of my [blank]." Some women fill in that blank in many ways, including how they perceive their own:
  • age (too young, too old)
  • dating experience (too much, not enough)
  • appearance (e.g. braces, complexion, hair, figure, freckles)
  • weight and/or size (too thin, short, tall, heavyset)
  • family and/or friends
  • personality (e.g. abrasive, shy and retiring, no fun to be with, too forward, sense of humor)
  • education
  • career / job / ambition (or lack thereof)
  • financial status (spending habits, ability to manage money, debt)
  • life circumstances (e.g. single mom, divorced, still living with parents, dealing with illness or physical condition)
  • independence versus neediness (e.g. inexperienced, high maintenance, set in her ways)
  • And on and on...
None of these issues preclude having a wonderful, loving relationship, yet many people worry they will.

I invite you to contribute to this topic. There is no specific timeframe for doing so -- you can leave a comment today or if the topic resonates with you and you wish to submit a more substantial piece of writing, take your time and email it to me later.

You can contribute in any of several ways both large and small, including the following:
  • Do you like the concept? Can you suggest other insecurities?
  • What messages do people need to hear about one (or more) of these issues so they can feel better about themselves?
  • What experiences have you had or what life lessons have you learned that would help someone with any of these issues?
  • Can you tell an illustrative or uplifting story related to one of these issues?
I have some ideas on these topics but I know your collective experiences will enrich the result tremendously.

Thanks!

22 comments:

  1. Hi Andrew,

    What a great idea this is!

    Having recently turned 50 I find that my daily excursion to the mirror leaves me feeling...well...insecure sometimes.

    As I look at my reflection and prepare to undo damage created by the sheets and old mascara it seems to me that I can still count my blessings because I've seen worse.

    All women seem to have the ability to create this template of what we think we should look like (at any given age) versus what we actually look like, and we must decide just how happy we feel about ourselves in order to minimize the bad versus the good.

    Yesterday my hubby and I celebrated our 27th anniversary. While out dining he said some things that somehow this morning changed my internal template.

    He said that it didn't seem like 27 years and that if anything ever happened to me the next amour would have some pretty big shoes to fill.

    Was I wowed? Well, let's just say I could have crawled under the table right then and...well...you know where I'm going.

    It's hard to feel satisfied when you start looking at all the things that is expected of one's self, and I personally have struggled with this all my life. But something changed last night. He asked me not to take a certain 'new' job last night because he said it did not suit my personality, that I was a far nicer person than what I would be required to write. I wholely agreed (because secretly I was having nightmares about having to dig up dirt to make people look bad) with him and was finally able to let go my desire to be needed by these people. Being needed has been the very thing that makes me who I am and the realization that I am not suitable for everything never occured to me before last night.

    I realized that I should be and could be satisfied with who I have grown to be. That my family needs me more than I've ever realized.

    In knowing that I am not perfect, there is a sense of relief. My spirit has always been free and inside this relationship it always will be allowed to be so. It makes me who I am and although I usually would never say this out loud...I am proud of myself for choosing this life even with the ups and downs we all face.

    Things I admit:

    I am happy!
    I am comfortable with myself (including the few extra pounds I am constantly trying to erase)
    I will always walk with my head held high!
    I will look back and wonder but never regret my choices!
    I will hold my husbands hand till the day I die!
    I will always laugh when times are tough!
    I will not always cry alone!
    I will always search for new ways to keep myself fresh!

    That said, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    JB

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  2. Hi JB,
    I'm SO happy for you! That sounds like a wonderful night with your husband and I'm really glad you chose to pop in here for a session of self-affirmation. I love it! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. Sounds like you already are doing just that :o)

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  3. Hi Andrew,

    I have been reading your blog and I love it! I totally enjoy your writing and your way of getting to the core of an issue with respect and humor.

    I'm adding you to my links and will continue reading with relish!

    Now self esteem issues are all about me so I have to ponder that for a bit. I love the concept!

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  4. I think this will be absolutely fun, eye opening and I'm excited to see the project progress.

    I don't know about men, but as women we are constantly fighting standards set for us, i.e, Hollywood, modeling industry, even each other, that if we buy into these standards we might feel inadequate indeed. Feeling adequate has everything to do with how WE feel about ourselves despite all the pressures from the outside world to feel, look, or be a certain way.

    In our society, women are practically "throw away" once they hit their 40's, certainly 50's. I just saw a commercial with a gorgeous Susan Sarandon - and thinking - she's reduced to commercials? That talented, gorgeous woman/actress?

    I've been there and seen many women who think they are in love because a boy or man has learned how to say the right words whether he means them or not. Sooner or later THAT world comes crashing down.

    So, I guess I'm saying is, a good topic would be how to resist being told how we should look, act, be, etc., etc., how our self esteem should come from within not without!

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  5. You have pretty much covered the top ones. If I can think of any others I will return.

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  6. I think it is a good topic to discuss. I will be back to post something i do have a few to share.I think everone can take something from this post and can relate to the problems we face.Thank you.

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  7. I feel I am at a good time in my life. I dont really feel insecure about anything. I would love to look like I did at 25, but that just isnt going to happen. When I sit and think about what my life was like at 25, I was raising kids, I had a husband who drank way too much. It seems like I was always contemplating divorce. It was a very stressful time. So when I finally took the bull by the horns and got the divorce, I was amazed! Living with my husband all those years, I was developing agoraphobia, I didnt leave my house! It was horrible. But I never connected it to being so unhappy...I just thought I had phobias. But months after the divorce I could go anywhere and do anything, so I guess what I am saying is, if you are unhappy or insecure or whatever and you stay in that situation its going to take a toll on you. I think there are 2 kinds of women....dependent and independent. I may used to have been dependent...but now I am so independent it scares me. Having been though the change of life, which no matter what you hear about it, its not all bad...I think it frees a woman. I no longer care if I please anybody...as long as I please me. Insecure??? about what??? my age? cant change that, just happy to be here. My looks???? well I am a 58 year old woman...cant look like a teeny bopper forever. Pleasing a man????? hahaha....Let him please me. Being alone??? I love it. And that is one thing Andrew that I think women are insecure about....being alone....and I think men are worse than women about this. If their wife dies, they gotta get another one soon! First they get a dog, then they get another woman, because they dont want to take care of themselves. My gf's and I always laugh because we say older women are looking for a few laughs, a casual relationship, just some fun, but older men are looking for a caregiver!!! And we older women have had enough of that! Most older women have it together, they are not insecure, they are financially secure, they own their own homes and they enjoy the company of their friends and family. I think younger women are insecure about their husbands finding someone else., maybe they dont have any skills to get a job if they have to, and no one is financially secure when their children are growing up...at least financially secure to go off on their own and raise their children. I think security comes with age, depending on the decisions you have made along the way. When I got divorced I really had no skills, but I started being a care giver for the elderly....and now I have about 7 women who work for me and we have 3 and 4 jobs going...full time jobs. We do quite well. So you can take care of yourself...it just takes something to motivate you...like a drunken husband...thats a great motivater!!! The downside of being an older woman is...you just keep getting older! lol..but its a lot better than the alternative!!

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  8. Hmmm... I really don't believe that I suffer from low self-esteem - within my marriage (in spite of my husband's willy wonka comment about my hair - my post was totally about humor - at this age I can really laugh about what I used to worry so much about)... my physical inadequacies bother me more when I try to make a joke at the grocery store, and realize that the (male) bagger, checker, etc...doesn't even notice I'm alive. It's an adjustment to remind myself that I am no longer their age (more like their mother's age) and that I do not even register on their charts. I think that your book might benefit from chapters - or sections - devoted to the different types of insecurities women face at different stages of their lives - 20s, 30s, 40s... etc.

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  9. Andrew,
    Thanks for visiting my "other blog"
    ;)

    ><(((*> R

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  10. I am going to emailing you and or posting a comment within the next few days. I too have a thing or two I would very much like to share with both you and your readers! Until then!

    I wish you enough,
    Divaisnotabadword

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  11. Here's a 'big one' I think, that affects {especially} women and their views and insecurities in themselves and relationships, and that is the MEDIA. In any shape or form, but particularly magazines and television. The "average" woman in real life can't compete with the models in print or onscreen, and so it creates a unattainable reality that women seek after. It also, I believe, adds to a woman's insecurities of what she thinks men expect of her. There is a constant tension in the person who thinks she needs to look or act like someone else in order to be loved by a person who she thinks is looking for Ms. Perfect. I grew up in a two-parent home knowing I was loved and accepted- no matter what, but I still struggled with self image and feelings of inadequacy. I believe they came mostly from the images in media. I have learned that when you truly love and accept yourself, that's when others want to do the same! They see that you are content and self-assured, and it can put others in a place of being able to love you for who you are. That tension is finally gone and gives way to openess and availabilty to love freely. Gosh...I don't know where all this is coming from- I'm no expert, but I think my experiences are proof of this truth. Thanks for reading my Nitty.Gritty. too. I always appreciate comments and remarks. It validates the time I spend thinking and writing on my blog. Good luck with all this "relationship exploration". Good stuff!

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  12. Good idea.

    I think loving/liking yourself is hugely important. With low self esteem you often look to others for approval, and it becomes addictive and exhausting.

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  13. I, too, agree that you have the bases covered! Will this be a book just for singles? Or can married people comment?!?!

    Certainly, self-worth, self-esteem, self-love is a topic that is pertinent to all women (and men--although they may not speak of it!). As a middle-aged women, married for 32 years, I struggle from time to time with any and all of these issues. I have found, much to my dismay, that while my husband can enhance my happiness and feelings of self-worth--it is when I am disappointed in myself that my esteem, worth, and self-love are affected.

    Some years I ago, I heard a speaker suggest that when we say, "I'm bored" ...we're really saying, "I'm boring!" Keeping within that theme, when I have feelings of low self-esteem, I may be saying, "I don't value myself."

    I have also discovered that, often, when I am feeling these things it is primarily due to distorted thinking patterns. I defer to David Burns (Cognitive Distortions) on this point. This has been a life-changing practice for me. I could e-mail you if I need to clarify. It would be great if you could incorporate this in your research.

    Happy writing!

    Diane

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  14. Specifically, I love the idea of seeing articles on married women with the insecurity issues. I know a tremendous amount of married women who present the image of the "perfect married couple," and when you actually get to know them you find that they are perfectly married because they are afraid to assert themselves within their marriages. They then lose their individual identities within the marriages. And then the husbands get bored and leave...either emotionally or physically.

    In fact, I've seen very few marriages that aren't like this and I wonder sometimes where all of the brassy broads have gone. In fact, that might be a good title for this series..."Where have all the brassy broads gone?"

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  15. This is a great post Andrew! we spend too much time pleasing people to feel loved because we do not know yet that we are worth of love already. We focus so much in our inadequacies that we do not see our greatness. We focus so much in what other people had told that we are, that we do not know who we are.

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  16. I remember a boss of mine who had issues like this, only in reverse. He was a terrific boss - very congenial, very knowledgeable - but his personal life was the pits. He spent all his energy trying to find "the right one" when it was obvious he was avoiding the bigger issue - why he wasn't happy with himself. No kidding, in the three years I worked with him, he had four "serious" relationships in which he uttered "marriage" more than once. But once the flutter of the new romance dwindled, he was off to greener pastures. I truly believe his problem was trying to fill a void he felt was inside him, and instead of filling it with substance, he chose to fill it with what he thought was the "next perfect" woman.

    I know he had his sights set on me at one point. Luckily, I could see the pattern from miles away. And who would go there with their boss? Ew.

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  17. I've never looked in the mirror at myself and seen my physical image. I've always seen my opinion of myself. Having had a good day, I could look at myself and see an attractive and confident woman. If I'd had a bad day, I'd look at myself and see someone who looked less than her best.

    As I age, I find that I'm more likely to be happy with what I see in the mirror. I'm more confident and at ease with myself. I see myself as being a survivor of my own life, a fact from which I derive comfort and pride.

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  18. This is primarily geared for women but being the stick that likes to stir the pot I do have to ask;
    Why do women love the men they love because they are the other half of the equation?

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  19. Hi again!

    I really like the idea. I have noticed women with no self confidence pass this on to their own children,especially their daughters.We keep creating a new generation of people pleasing females and it stops with us.I am one of them or was rather.It's not easy for anyone to stand up,puff out their chest and do the whole Tarzan thing. Everyday I struggle to make sure I don't go backwards. There are days that I totally suck at this "I am woman, hear me roar!"business.There are days that I don't know the the heck is going on and you know what that's ok too! Bottom line? All that maters is at the end of the day,when you look in the mirror and u can be proud of who you are and how you carried yourself during the day.Don't hand your spirit over willingly,fight with all YOUR might to get it back. Do not be afraid to ask for the Puppet strings back. I promise you in the end it is oh so worth it.

    Divaisnotabadword

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  20. Excellent idea!
    I feel like women (I'm a woman, btw) often let these feelings of insecurity take over. Then it becomes a force that pushes people away. The ol' self-fulfilling prophecy. Very frustrating! But we are so bombarded by messages from everywhere that no one will love you if you are not perfect in this way or that. I guess it is a real response to that fear of being alone and rejected. No one wants to feel that.
    And don't forget the insecurities about being a good parent, and about your child leaving. I once helped a woman at the bookstore I worked at try to find a book about "empty nests" as her son had just left for college. She was very upset and cried most of the time. I think that plays into age, but also fear of being alone or rejected by your kids, and that is a real issue for a lot of people.
    Keep us posted on the project!
    (ps, you are on my blogroll.. blog on...)

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  21. Anonymous1:25 AM

    I think maybe there is some imbalance between most ppl's expectations and their reality. Like, I think people look for a perfect partner, who maybe doesn't exist.

    Trying to be realistic, I know I am an imperfect person with certain problems, and I didn't find a guy who totally has it all together and/or feels like he has no problems (if it's true he would want someone similar, and if he thinks that and it's not true, he would then be pretty arrogant), rather I found my husband who has sort of similar difficulties to me, but yet we can support each other in our moments of weakness. We are not bringing each other down becos of our problems, but generally managing to understand each other.
    One time I said to him, "you with your imperfections are perfect for me with my imperfections." And that's what I still think.

    PS: By "problems", I don't think you should settle for someone with a bad character (although if you had a bad character yourself you maybe don't deserve a person with a good character until you would change and act better towards ppl). You should look for someone who treats you right and you should treat them right, too.

    I hope this makes sense.

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  22. One subject to fill in the blank: "He won't love me because I was a foster child/adopted."

    As foster parents, we see a lot of rejection issues with children, which seem to follow them into adulthood despite therapy.

    Why is it that most people assume that a foster child is in foster care because they come from worthless stock? People tend to wonder if these children will grow up to be abusive, alcoholic, or sexual predators themselves... simply because they assume most children are removed from parental custody because the parent/s have these problems.

    Anyway, a special section for the person who was a foster child would be a wonderful (and much appreciated) addition to any book.

    Thank you.

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