New Castle News

March 24, 2014

Lisa Madras: Thanks for the wisdom, Dr. Phil — I think

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — How important are you ... to you?

"Don't worry about hurting my feelings because I guarantee you not one bit of my self-esteem is tied up in your acceptance."

I saw this quote on the Internet this morning. It was attributed to Dr. Phil, although I couldn't find any substantial proof to verify that fact. If you've ever watched his show, though, you can just HEAR him saying it.

Even though I don't watch his show regularly, I do try to catch an episode every now and again, because I think this guy's gold. I don't even care how corny some of his stuff might sound. As far as common sense goes, if you ever need a dose of it, the good doctor's got it.

But I digress. So anyhow, I saw this quote, and I thought to myself, "Do I feel like that? And if not, why not?" I like to think that, for the most part, I have a fairly healthy self-esteem. OK, OK, some days are healthier than others, but you get my point. I may not base my self-esteem on the best factors in the world, but I certainly don't base it on the opinions of others.

Or do I?

Reading that quote got me to thinking about how often I would start out a day on the right foot, and before I knew it — BLAMO! Someone would come along and smack the smile right off my face with an off-hand comment. And the direction the day had started in got completely turned around.

Smart as I like to think I am, I spent several years in a relationship with a person who made me feel like that every couple of days. It was like riding a roller coaster that would thrill you for five minutes and have you reaching for a barf bag in the next five. And then again. And again ... and again.  I stayed for years because I thought that if I became a better girlfriend, it would get better. If I handled my kids differently, it would get better. If I did X, Y, and Z, it would get better. If I became everything he wanted me to be, it would get better.

The problem was, nothing I did was ever good enough. And then, unbelievably, I woke up one day and realized that it never would be. And that as long as I was basing my self-worth on someone else's opinion, I would be spending the rest of my life breaking my back for an unattainable goal. I realized that I already had someone who would appreciate the effort I went to to make life amazing, and that someone was me.  

I fail myself sometimes, sure. And I'm my harshest critic. But I'm the one that matters at the end of the day. Just like you're the one who matters at the end of your day. Other people may come along and derail your good intentions, but keep in mind that they're just passers-by in your world.  Some of them you might have to keep around. Just remember to give their presence all the more consideration it deserves. And by that I mean realize that what others say and do has EVERYTHING to do with them, and pretty much NOTHING to do with you.

As for the ones you don't have to keep around? Show 'em the door.

I still struggle with following my own advice on that one, but I'm trying, and it does get better every single day. It helps to have a mantra of sorts, something that you can say to yourself when your emotions are all bent out of shape over someone else. Hey, I know a good one: "Don't worry about hurting my feelings because I guarantee you not one bit of my self-esteem is tied up in your acceptance."

I'm still not sure who said it, but I sure know who will be.