Tag Archives: self esteem

Was Joan Bakewell right to link anorexia to narcissism?

narcissus

Before I answer that, let’s have a bit of a Greek Mythology lesson:

Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image.

And from that vain lad we get the expression “narcissism” which means (according to Dictionary.com) an inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. And in a psychoanalysis context, erotic gratification derived from admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.

So, no. Baroness Bakewell was emphatically wrong to link anorexia with narcissism.

An anorexic is not in love with the way they look, or indeed in love with themselves. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.

After being teased about the way you look, or made to feel worthless, or that you are the stupidest person in the world, you feel hopeless and helpless and not in control of anything in your life.

You look in the mirror and see fat, ugly and stupid.

There’s a little trigger that switches on in your brain that says, “if you lost a little bit of weight, you’d look and feel amazing!”, and then after losing, say a couple of kilos, the trigger switches on again, and so you lose a little bit more, and then a little bit more.

And there isn’t a problem, you see, because you’re in total control – but when you look in the mirror that fat, ugly, stupid girl is still staring back at you, so you lose another couple of kilos.

You start exercising in secret – 100s of abdominal exercises to trim the wobbly bits around your tummy.

You start hiding food, pushing it around the plate and making it look as if you’ve eaten something.

You become clever at hiding the fact you don’t eat. You find ways to skip breakfast. You lie about having lunch, and then you eat a tiny amount for supper.

When I was a teenager, I lived on a sandwich a day for 2 years. Not a fact I’m particularly proud of now, but at the time it was the only way I could feel that I was worth anything.

I didn’t have many friends at secondary school – I was different (a bit geeky (something I’ve embraced as I’ve grown up), preferred performing arts to make-up and boys, etc), I was never one of the “special pretty” girls at dancing – just the tall, plain one at the back.

I just wanted to fit in! And I thought if I was thinner, maybe I would be prettier.

Nowadays, I love being different. Different is me! 😉 And, as I’m always telling SC “why fit in, when you were born to stand out”. The one thing I have learned in life is to be yourself. People will either love you, hate you or blow hot and cold no matter what you do.

But back to the point in question, anorexia is not about vanity, it is ultimately a cry for help.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I never got so bad that I had to be hospitalised. I could never make myself throw up, tried it – stuck my toothbrush down my throat, gagged, but couldn’t do it.

If anorexics were narcissists, then they wouldn’t self-harm either, would they?

Self-harming, like eating disorders, is again brought on by feelings of such low self-esteem and self-worth and trying to grasp back that sense of control.

Even a recovering anorexic will always have an issue with food. Sometimes they go the other way and become bulimic. But again, that’s just the control coming in to play.

I had both anorexic and bulimic tendencies – meaning I munch an entire packet of biscuits and crisps and cake in one sitting, then I would starve myself for a couple of days to punish myself.

For the record, I never self-harmed!

I had periods of anorexic-skinniness throughout my teens, twenties and thirties.

Did it make me feel happier? Did it make me feel prettier? Did I ever feel thin enough?

No, no and no.

So, what changed, if anything?

One word. Me!

I realised that the only way to feel happy, is to feel happy with who you are. You may be different, quirky, geeky, normal, flamboyant, etc. But the thing is you’re you. Nothing can change that – and just because you don’t fit into some conventional society-labelled pigeon-hole – why should you?

If we can feel happy with who we are on the inside, then it shows on the outside.

I tend not to look in the mirror these days – only to apply make-up. I don’t weigh myself 5 times a day any more. I exercise, but not to excess.

I still am careful with what I eat – but nothing as bad as it was. If I want cake these days (admittedly I tend to ration to once a week- still a slight issue of control) – I’ll have a slice – after all there are just some days when you need cake. So you buy cake, eat cake and the cake is good 😉

In conclusion, society and the media has a lot to answer for. We tend to always point out the negatives about people, rather than the positives, which is a shame, because everyone has something good about them.

Focussing on the positives is a great thing to do.

Here are my 3 positives about me that I’m grateful for:

  1. I love my very long legs
  2. I love my pixie chin
  3. At long last, I have grown to love me 😉

What are 3 positive things you love about you?

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Are Self-Esteem and Ego the Same Thing?

“Ego” is a Latin and Greek word meaning I, and used to describe the self.

“Self-Esteem” is a term used to reflect a person’s overall emotional evaluation of their own worth.

But could they, in fact, be one and the same.

After all if I describe myself (hypothetically) as totally amazing, surely that is me describing myself and how I feel about myself at the same time. And, therefore I could deduce that both my self-esteem and ego were quite large! (Or you could think that I just held far too high an opinion of myself 😉 )

I always assumed, wrongly as it turns out, that they were one and the same thing. That someone with a big ego, and yes full of their own importance, was very confident in themselves and therefore obviously had a high sense of self-worth.

However, I have been reading some articles and books lately that have made me re-think my stance.

As a general rule, it would actually appear that self-esteem and ego are inversely proportional to each other, meaning that someone with a low self-esteem actually has quite a big ego, and vice-versa.

A person with a big ego needs constant reassurance and bolstering up, apparently, whereas a person with high self-esteem is confident enough to not have a ask for compliments!

And that got me thinking about the ghosts of boyfriends past!

Boomerang Boy – big ego and low self-esteem. He always needed to prove his worth, not to me, but to his peers, and was never confident in himself to say no. He always ended up being taken for a fool, which he was not, by making himself the centre of attention with his antics whilst being goaded on by his so-called friends.

Mr Wrong No. 1 – mmm, tricky. I thought he had high self-esteem, but upon further reflection it would appear he was another with low self-esteem and a big ego. He appeared very confident, and indeed is very knowledgeable about a lot of things (I will be forever grateful for everything I learned from him), but was very quick to belittle other people (or maybe it was just me?)

Mr Wrong No. 2 – no question, big ego. The kind of man who would tell you black was white and argue the case even if the truth was staring him in the face. He was of the opinion that his opinion and no one else’s mattered, and took delight in belittling everyone else – especially me!

So, it seems I have a pattern emerging. They have all been the same ‘type’ of man. And I, like a fool, have fallen for the initial façade rather than the person underneath, and when the devil emerged I tried to ignore it, in the hope that it would go away, but all that happened was my life was sucked out of me.

I spent the best part of 20 years wishing things would turn out better with Boomerang Boy. He was my first love. I love him today, but not in that way, he’s more like the brother I never had. I would do anything for him, but as for being in a relationship with him, not a chance.

For my part, I know I have low self-esteem. I am my own worst enemy. I am far too hard on myself and blame myself constantly for anything that goes wrong. That is a fault and, let’s  just say it’s a work in progress 😉

I would like to think though that I do not have a huge ego.

Some people might assume that I have, but most of the time it’s just me trying, really badly, to fit into the company I am with at the time – when to be honest I would rather be at home with a good book, or curled up under a blanket watching a good film.

I do not like being the centre of attention.

Yes, I act, and yes that obviously involves going on stage with shed-loads of people looking at you.

But I don’t do it for the glory, I don’t do for the ego-trip. I do it because it is the one thing I am passionate about, I love it. It enables me to become so much more than I am, I can crawl beneath the skin of a character and, for a while, enjoy being whatever part I am. It’s the one job I would love to be paid for. It’s my life.

I do have my own opinions, which I don’t think is a bad thing. It means that I am confident in my thoughts. However, I do appreciate and respect other people’s opinions and know that sometimes, unintentionally, my opinions, or off-the-cuff remarks may offend others. This is another fault which I am working on repairing.

 

So, it would appear that self-esteem and ego are not the same things.

What do you think?

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How to Cope with Life the “Quirky Way”

Re-published Blog post from 2013

“This was an article I read in the paper last week.

We all have days when we think “why did I bother getting up”, or “my life is sooo boring”, or we are just plain exhausted, or our job is getting us down and we feel anxious, stressed and depressed.

Research by Direct Line, the insurance company revealed that we all try to cram so much into a day, that approximately 25% of us end up feeling too tired to enjoy the fun things in life.

So, a Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor in human behaviour at the University of Central London came up with the following suggestions to bring a little boost to our energy levels:

  • Listen to a minute and a half of loud rock music pre day at around 11:30 am.
    • Apparently it’s an ideal way to keep you going until lunch – and I thought that was, according to the adverts, a bowl of Kellogg’s Frosties (or indeed any other breakfast cereal). At the moment we alternate between School Disco in my car CD player (SC is particularly fond of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”, or Meatloaf’s “Dead Ringer for Love”) and Now that’s what I call 30 years of Music (favourite tracks The Proclaimers “500 miles” or Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell!”) – will try blasting them out tomorrow morning at 11:30!
  • Allow time for a power nap during the day.
    • Personally, I’ve never been a power napper. Closing my eyes during the day makes me feel worse, sick and then I can’t sleep at night – so I’ll be giving this one a miss I think.
  • Jog to meetings and lunch to boost endorphins.
    • Endorphins, as everyone knows are what make you happy – it would certainly make me smile to watch everyone in an office jogging along the corridor to their next meeting, or indeed jogging along the busy streets of London (and yes, I know not everyone works there) in their power suits off to the local supermarket!
  • Write in different colours and styles.
    • Ooo, I can see a surge in sales of those pens with 4 different inks in them. You know the ones, with one click you can go from blue to black to red to green. Many a happy hour was idled away at school changing colours. Even at university I used to write in different coloured ink. Assignments were sent in red, turquoise and I think even lavender at one point! And as for style, mine changes like the weather and depending on my mood ranging from very neat and tidy to doctor scrawl which needs several different interpreters to decipher what I actually wrote!
  • Indulge in social media for 5 minutes at a time!
    • Seriously? 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work, 5 minutes social media, 1 minute work ….
  • Start a hobby that improves self-esteem – to make the things that ‘have to be done, like going to work, feel easier.’
    • Surely anything that you enjoy will improve your self-esteem whether that is pounding away on the running machine and the weights at the gym to something more creative like writing, art or music. After all, if we indulge in what we love and enjoy then we release more happy hormones, don’t we? And surely, self-esteem starts with feeling happy?
  • Doodle (not write) to-do lists first thing in the morning.
    • I used to be so organised before I had SC, and I was working. Now I just used post-it notes, which get stuck everywhere, or write lists in various notebooks!
  • Sleep on the wrong side of the bed.
    • Seriously, do people have a wrong and right side? As long as the mattress is firm and I have enough room to stretch my long legs out, without them ending up dangling off the end of the bed I do not care one iota which ‘side’ I sleep on. I know I’m anal about most things, but which side of the bed I sleep on is not one of them!
  • Eat a piece of fruit at 3pm to combat the afternoon ‘slump’.
    • A natural burst of sugar to keep you going until the end of the working day. I used to do that at work when I was pregnant, because around 2/3 o’clock was when my blood sugar plummeted and I started feeling nauseous. Orange juice kicked up the blood pressure, didn’t quite get rid of the mid-afternoon sickness though!
  • Set New Year’s resolutions in July.
    • I get the whole it’s the start of a new year, new beginnings, etc. Time to make a fresh start. But I don’t see why we have to wait an entire year before starting, or finishing, something we want to do – like going on that diet, finding a new job, etc.
  • Tube surf – change your usual route to work.
    • When I first read this I had images of commuters standing on the tube platform in the morning with surf boards under their arms and strains of The Beach Boys “Wipe Out”, playing over the intercom system. I always used to tube surf. It’s sometimes a necessity when the tube line you need is severely disrupted, and you end up with varying ways to get to the office. Even when I drove to work I would sometimes just drive a different way in. Plan B is always essential on the commute, you never know what hold ups with occur.
  • Get a personal mantra.
    • I’m all for mantras. The more positive and focussed the better.
  • Let imagination and creativity run wild by reading a favourite childhood book.
    • Einstein said “logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere,” and also “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world!” As adults we lose our childhood imagination to see the world as a vast adventure, and it does become a hum-drum existence of working to live instead of living to work. Where does our imagination go? Why does it get stifled?

I’m all for quirky 😉

I never do things by the book.

If you’re feeling a tad stifled in your existence, try some of the above. What’s the worst that can happen?

As for favourite childhood books, I’m such a bookie it’s a hard decision. My top 5 would probably be “A Dream of Sadlers Wells”, “Anne of Green Gables”, “Little Women”, Family from One End Street” and “Mallory Towers” (I so wanted to go there when I was little!”)”

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Do You Deserve Everything You Get?

Someone said to me yesterday that I deserved everything I got!

This was said with malice, I hasten to add.

And that got me thinking, do I, or anyone else come to think of it, deserve what they get in life?

And thinking further is it actually what we deserve, or merely a physical manifestation of our innermost wants, which we ourselves are oblivious of until such time as ‘we get what we deserve’?

And without getting too philosophical or psychological is it perhaps the universe giving us what it knows we can handle?

I remember watching a film, think it was “The Wedding Date”, with Debra Messing (her off Will & Grace) and the father, played by the rather swoonsome Paul Egan, said to Debra Messing’s character that women get the love life they want.

So men, or women who get treated badly, is it because they want to be treated badly, or is it because they have such low self-esteem that they think they don’t deserve to be treated well?

And that got me thinking again? (And we all know how much I think, and boy has it given me a stinker of a headache!!)

So, I tried to take the philosophy that what we get is merely a physical manifestation of our innermost wants and apply it to some areas of my life.

And here’s what I came up with:

Love

Being a true romantic at heart, with a head full of fairy-tales, I believe in there being a Prince Charming out there somewhere.

In reality though I know Prince Charming doesn’t exist. So maybe, when I thought I’d got close to that fairytale, it was with someone I knew, deep down, could and would never be mine? So I got the fairytale in my imagination, but being reality it never really existed in the first place!

Life

I obviously didn’t set out to be a single-mother, but that is the situation I find myself in. Is this merely a physical manifestation of the fact that I thrive on a challenge and find ‘normality’ tedious? I suppose that could be true – after all I was constantly on the move in my career pre-SC – not that I have any lingering wishes towards Mr Wrong No. 2, far from it. Maybe the Universe dealt me this card because it knew I had the wherewithal to cope – although some days I seriously doubt its judgement!

Work

Nothing is ever handed to anyone, and you have to work for what you want. There are no quick wins to fame or fortune, so to speak, except through hard work. That’s what makes slogging your guts out worthwhile, when you can see the results of all that hard work. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. And again, maybe deep down the reason I keep going, is because I’m not a quitter and I just want to prove everyone wrong – just once – and show that I can do it!

It’s not a perfect explanation, but at least its got the thoughts out of my head, and relieved some of the headache!

I don’t believe we deserve what we get!

I believe we all have the power to overcome anything in life, if we choose too, rather than sitting down, doing nothing and letting life pass us by.

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