I Kid You Not

You know how they always tell you, “if you don’t like yourself, how can you expect others to like you?” Well, I’ve discovered that’s only true in part. There’s a flip side to it. When you don’t like yourself, you are drawn to others who also don’t like themselves. They feed off your low self-esteem as you use them to reinforce your negative idea of yourself. They treat you not necessarily as you want to be treated, but as you expect to be treated.

And here’s the tricky part: Should someone come along–someone with high self esteem, who sees the best in you, who has a higher opinion of you than you have of yourself, simply because that’s their world view–it will scare the crap out of you. You won’t know where this person is coming from, you won’t know what to do with this person, you won’t trust this person. Because deep down in your soul you don’t believe the positive things about yourself that this person believes.

You’ll think to yourself, “What’s he after?” or “Why is she so nice?” You’re actually not in the mental state to believe that this person is for real, to believe what this person sees in you, because you’re not ready to see those positive things in yourself. So, you’ll start scrutinizing everything this person says to you or does for you, looking for “the catch,” waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You will take at face value someone who reinforces your negative ideas about yourself, but you will be suspicious of the one who genuinely admires you with no strings attached.

You not only do not believe this person, you’re afraid to believe this person. Because, if you’re right about yourself not being worthy, and this person convinces you to step out of your zone of “comfort,” of working with “the devil you know,” you think you will lose everything you’ve built, such as it is.

Of course, what you’ve built–whether it’s a circle of people, or a job that’s just okay, or a marriage that’s not great, but not terrible—those things might not be what you want deep down, but you’re already sure you can’t get what you truly want. You’re convinced you don’t deserve it and/or you don’t have what it takes to get it.

You’d rather play it safe, take the crumbs that you’re given by those who see you as less, just as you see yourself as less, then to take the chance on this other person’s vision of you that you are more than you think you are.

So, you will force this true believer in you out of your life. You’ll find a way. You’ll see fault in everything this person does and says, to a much, much greater degree than you do with your detractors–the friends or spouse or co-workers you’ve come to depend on. The people in your life you’re used to–the ones who tell you, in so many subtle ways, that you can never be as great as you want to be–when those people talk, you’ll listen.

But when the one who truly believes in you tells you how special you are, how much they admire you, you will think to yourself, “You’re a liar. You’re a liar, and I don’t like you. Go away.”

It’s not that you really don’t like this person. It’s that this person terrifies you with their vision of you. You don’t want to see the better version of yourself in their eyes because you’re not ready to see it, you’re not ready to make it happen. This person came along in your life too early, and you want them gone.

And that person will go. The reason they’ll go is because they value their own selves and their own world view too much to be subjected to your doubts about yourself, to your suspicions of them, to your false accusations of them, to the mediocrity of your vision about people and life.

“Water finds its level.” The true believer will move on to other true believers. You’ll be left behind because that’s where you wanted to stay. But now, you’ll blame that other person for leaving you there. Now it’s their fault, not yours. Your familiar detractors will support that view, saying in so many words, “Yeah, that so-and-so was no good for you. Stick with us.”

And you will. Because your detractors will never ask you to be more than you are right at this moment. They don’t ever want you to be more than you are at this moment. And you will lose them if you try.

For those with a low level of belief in themselves and in what their world can be, there’s a comfort in that–in knowing what to expect–in knowing just how little they will receive from friends, from loved ones, from life. They’ll accept that little, even though they’re starving from it, rather than try to reach for more nourishment.

Yeah. It’s truly more comfortable for them. Safer, anyway. I kid you not.

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