This is the second part of the blog on Self-Esteem and The Gift of Challenging People.
We all know people who are challenging or difficult to know. In the earlier blog, I listed some of the characteristics of difficult or challenging people. We will look at the types of challenging people in today’s blog.
Difficult people do not intend to be difficult. They may or may not care about you, but they put themselves first because they have a personality disorder. It’s not that they want to be the way they are; they have no choice unless they seek help to make some changes. The more we seek to understand, the more we encourage harmony and peace.
There are ten types of personality (character) disorders in the current DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders TR). This same volume adds two more personality disorders meriting further study. This gives us a total of twelve listed below. Caution: It is not a wise man who engages in the diagnosis of self. It is equally unwise to diagnose another.
We all know people who are a challenge. We may love a challenging person or we may work with one. A challenging person can be your friend, a family member, or a neighbor. They are difficult and you may find yourself having to work hard to interact with them. They challenge you to find increasingly better ways to stay centered. They challenge you to become a better person.
Self-esteem refers to how well you value yourself. The self is many things, but in a nutshell we are referring to the “sum total” of who you are, including all of your known strengths and your shortcomings. Someone with healthy self-esteem is able to see both sides.
Self-esteem can be influenced by who we know. It’s easy for some to say that we can just eliminate negative people from our lives and that is that. This is easier said than done. What happens if the negative or challenging person is a loved one or someone who you really don’t want to cut out of your life, at least not yet?
Let’s talk a bit about anger and the primary and secondary emotions that are a part of our human makeup.
Emotions are a lot like colors. Just as we have primary and secondary colors we also have primary and secondary emotions or feelings.
The primary emotions are anger, love, fear, sadness, and joy. I bet some of you are surprised at this short list. Anger and fear are the workhorses of the family of feelings. These two are so over worked from being sent out repeatedly to do the work of the other feelings.
The secondary emotions are listed below in a simple chart.
As many of you have guessed by now, I work with children and teens in my clinical practice. Children are fresh and wonderful. They almost always tell the truth as they know it, at least to me. I enjoy teens for their energy and passion. I find that children and teens make a lot of sense. I understand that parents don’t always agree. This is OK.
Over the years I have collected secrets from children. Some of these secrets are written down and hidden in obscure places throughout the therapy room. There are secrets taped behind the sofa, taped underneath the office desk up high where the legs attach to the desk top, and secrets floating amidst the plants that hang from the soffit that runs around the corner of the room.
Children write down what they cannot say. Or, they write down and leave with me what they cannot change. Sometimes they write down feelings, other times they write of events, and there are some who write down wishes. All of this is secret. I promise to keep their feelings until such time they are fine with us removing the secrets and deciding on what to do with them.
I have learned about what children care most about. I have paid attention to teenage struggles, which they explain with sincerity.
Here is a list of some of the things these children and teens have taught me:
I would like to share a story about the merits of observation. When in doubt, just observe. Sometimes I refer to what I do as sociological stalking.
For three evenings I decided to follow, at a distance, a tiny, old Mexican woman who was burdened with two thickly packed, yet colorful, bolsas (bags). She stood less than four feet tall and her legs were smaller in circumference than my arms. She wore a faded skirt that spoke of colorful birds no longer colorful and a rebozo (shawl) that was tattered and faded to a hazy blue.
Her face bore no affect, yet it was filled with expression by the absence of it. Lines gracefully crossed her forehead as though drawn with an unsteady, but sympathetic, ruler. Other lines, gouged more deeply, worked their way down from strong cheekbones and ended somewhere near the neckline of an old blouse double wrapped with an even older, brown sweater. Her black, ballet-style flat shoes were fastened to feet weathered and dry. Her step, though slow, was steady and stable.
They feel taken hostage by their own children. This can take the form of emotional hostage taking, financial, interpersonal, physical, or spiritual. Let’s take a look at this difficult subject.
When we give birth to a child we have already made a commitment to sustain the life of this new being. The child that grows inside the mother has a home, food, shelter, and an identifiable place to be. Birth marks one of many transitions that will take place throughout the life-span.
The father has a role in this as well. He sustains the mother and often provides the home, food, shelter, and place to be for her. Roles are often reversed due to circumstances, decisions, culture, or due to the unanticipated surprises life has in store for all of us.
We greet this new being, this child, and welcome him or her to the world. This is a newborn and everything for her is brand new. The bonds are made, the commitments are strengthened, and hopes are set into motion. Sometimes, often times, there is a change made to the plan.
A secret is something that is kept hidden.
We all know about secrets. There are quite a variety. There are good secrets; those we keep about the surprise birthday party or the special gift you have for someone you love. Good secrets can also be the confidences we keep for others that will not cause harm.
Therapists keep secrets, siblings keep secrets, employees keep secrets, friends keep secrets, and there are secrets about the past that one or two people may know, but they keep this private out of respect for you.
There are bad secrets as well. Bad secrets are those things that usually mean someone is getting hurt. In counseling teens ask me to keep things secret that sometimes cannot or really should not be a secret. Sometimes these are secrets that are about child abuse, sexual abuse, or other harm that has come to the young person or someone they know.
Let’s take a look at secrets; the good and not so good. Let’s take a look at the significance of shame and the difference between shame and guilt. All of these involve anxiety, worry and fear.
This is the second installment concerning fears in parenting. In the last blog we were exploring what you can do to take some of the fear out of parenting. We began to look at the Eight-Fold Path to Enlightenment as applied to parenting.
Although these steps are not going to take away the worry and fear entirely, they can perhaps help you to position yourself in the most mindful manner. When parents are mindful they listen better, respond better, and react less. These things allow you to be the parent you feel good about being.
Here is the Eight-Fold Path again: