Author Topic: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues  (Read 8519 times)

Mikeler

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Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« on: May 17, 2013, 12:39:20 AM »
I've decided to cut the chase in regards to WHY AKA the reason I'm pursuing meditation.

I am in fact pursuing mediation as a practice because I suffer and have suffered from chronically low self-esteem and confidence for most of my waking life (although this could be a subconsious mind filter running it's own doom and gloom story) and I see meditation as some kind of "tool" or even "therapy".

So in fact, there is something that I want to GET from meditation. It's not simply a nice relaxing past time (although it does help with tension) but rather a kind of therapy which I expect to get results from. Oftentimes, I get really really REALLY depressed and frustrated because I put dedicated meditation time every day but yet I still get those awkward nasty feelings of burning shame and low self worth which seem to follow me around. I scramble to become present to the moment trying to use it as a "cure" for my problems and trying to run away from the very problems I should be embracing according to Buddhist philosophy. So in fact, I'm using it as a means to an end. Goal orientation. Seeking outcomes and results.

Then comes the issue of giving in to "conventional therapy" which is basically saying change your thinking patterns and you can change how you feel ( the old challenge your thoughts mentality). I don't know if this is a good way to go about improving my mental health and I'm afraid the payoff will not be worth it. So basically I'm on the fence between Eastern and Western line of thinking in regards to mental health.

The purpose of making this thread is to make sense of this mess in my mind currently. I've gone to an NHS therapist and I was not very convinced by the CBT therapy offered but at time I don't even know if meditation is the right thing to do.

Sorry for the rant but it's something I've had to say for a while to people that can actually help and make sense of this hodge podge.


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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2013, 02:18:16 AM »
I am in fact pursuing mediation as a practice because I suffer and have suffered from chronically low self-esteem and confidence for most of my waking life (although this could be a subconsious mind filter running it's own doom and gloom story) and I see meditation as some kind of "tool" or even "therapy".
Perfect

So in fact, there is something that I want to GET from meditation.

There is nothing to get from meditation, more like a loss.


 It's not simply a nice relaxing past time
Agreed it is not always relaxing
 
 

  but rather a kind of therapy which I expect to get results from.
Drop the expectations if you can, just do the practice and see if there are changes 6 months or a year from now.

   
Oftentimes, I get really really REALLY depressed and frustrated because I put dedicated meditation time every day but yet I still get those awkward nasty feelings of burning shame and low self worth which seem to follow me around. I scramble to become present to the moment trying to use it as a "cure" for my problems and trying to run away from the very problems I should be embracing according to Buddhist philosophy. So in fact, I'm using it as a means to an end. Goal orientation. Seeking outcomes and results.

It is a long path, and you are going to experience these ups and downs along the path. With observation we can see the aspect of impermanence of these, and this understanding will help us to come out of these miseries a little easier as we walk the path. The time we spend miserable will shorten in duration and we will have more happyness. But do not start timing this, it will become aparent with steady practice.

 

Then comes the issue of giving in to "conventional therapy" which is basically saying change your thinking patterns and you can change how you feel ( the old challenge your thoughts mentality). I don't know if this is a good way to go about improving my mental health and I'm afraid the payoff will not be worth it. So basically I'm on the fence between Eastern and Western line of thinking in regards to mental health.
I think those who truly wish to find a way out of suffering will find the dhamma in many places, but you do have to do the work nobody can do the work for you.

The purpose of making this thread is to make sense of this mess in my mind currently. I've gone to an NHS therapist and I was not very convinced by the CBT therapy offered but at time I don't even know if meditation is the right thing to do.

When you find the technique that is right for you you will be drawn to it, it should feel natural.


Sorry for the rant but it's something I've had to say for a while to people that can actually help and make sense of this hodge podge.

No apologies necessary, rant away. :)

Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2013, 06:03:19 AM »
hi mike,

See the meditation we practice works in curtain way where we embrace everything and forget about wanting and not wanting curtain things. We see the the root problem is that we are not ready to accept the reality as it is.... we want it to be something else, and this is what is causing the suffering not the thing itself.

To put this in your case, low self esteem and confidence in you is a fact. Instead of seeing that if you want to run from it and develop something that is not there, it is not possible. See, you feed food for the negative qualities of mind if you try to run away from them or try to suppress them, because you hate them. We have to let them run out of there batteries and not charge them. If you accept these facts and ready to live with them without minding them one bit then you stop charging its batteries. Then eventually they will run out of power and get destroyed.

Even though it seems simple it is not. Since you already have resisted them for quite sometime whenever you try to accept them all that resistance comes up on the top. So first you have to remove the resistance then only you can solve your problem.

March on soldier, Enemy is not invisible. You just need glasses called wisdom to see them.  :D

Mikeler

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 12:24:13 PM »
Yeah, I don't have any wisdom.

Sometimes I get a glimpse like "Ah yes, I see how these thoughts change and I see their impermanence clearly now" and then as soon as I go about my daily life I get sucked into the same BS, drama, negativity all over again.

It's like I forget the lessons of meditation and have to re learn then every time.

floyd

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2013, 02:45:57 PM »
I very much doubt there's anyone here who didn't start meditating with a goal in mind. An answer to depression is far more likely than an understanding of the universe, IMO, though I wouldn't mind both.

Like you I started meditating because of lifelong (40+ years) depression and low self esteem. I can say without any doubt that after a year or so of practice I feel considerably less afflicted by these traits. It's not as though I'm suddenly bubbly and full of joy, I'm still essentially the same but I'm far more accepting of it. This gives me greater resilience - if I am feeling particularly anxious I don't tend to dwell on it so much, I intuitively know that it will pass and I can either indulge it or find a distraction. That's empowering. I can't help but think that kind of power will help improve self esteem too. Fingers crossed.

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2013, 03:55:37 PM »
Hi Mikener,

I also started meditating because of enormous social fobia, fear of failure and a generalized anxiety disorder. On top of that I was ('they' say you will always be) addicted to a lot of anti-anxiety drugs like alcohol, GHB, benzos and in the end began to use opiods more and more. I recognize these thoughts. It is all about the thoughts. My biggest problem in the anxiety situation is that when I have a word with someone, afterwards I get hundreds and hundreds of thoughts like 'I used these words instead of these, now he/she will think this of me' and so on. I'm sure you'll recognize these thoughts. It's like my mind weighs every word into account and gives any conversation, also with complete strangers that I will never see again, a negative vibe and gives me these negative thoughts that are attacking me.

First I began with samadhi but after a month or two or three I came to the insight that with samadhi I am just trying to go the thoughts away instead of trying accepting them there to be - only as mental objects - for the full 100%. Because this is the only way they will eventually pass, as said in earlier posts. In my meditation (vipassana) this works quite well at the moment, there I can accept everything as it is and sometimes even the most negative thoughts and just see them as the mental objects they are, without hitting me emotionally. In daily life this is far more difficult offcourse and I experienced the same problems as you have. I didn't believed that much in meditation any more and I was still trying to fights these thoughts and I didn't (still didn't come to full acception) wanted them but I wanted them to go away. Also in my meditation I noticed (reflecting back on my daily meditations) that I was trying to reach a thoughtless state where these negative thoughts can't occur. It is just a maybe a week or two ago that I came to the insight that I was still trying to reach something and still (unconsciousness) was fighting against these thoughts. But it is not something that works when you know this, more practise shall lead to more and more acceptance and less and less of trying to change the things as they are and trying to 'fights' against these thoughts.

Like said before, it's a process and our nature is to try to stop these thoughts and fight them. But keep up the trust in the path and I am convinced that gradually this 'fighting and not wanting' things like negative thoughts and emotions will get less and less...

Good luck,

greets

Renze

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2013, 12:37:40 PM »
Hi Mike,

A lot of us can relate to your problems so you're not alone on this forum. You sound quite depressed and negative, and my advice is to get some professional (conventional) help for that. In my opinion, you really need to get out of this negative mindset first and into a more positive attitude about life. I've struggled with manic depression for most of my adult life, as well as severe shyness (avoidant personality disorder) and self esteem problems. It was only after stabilizing my mood issues through professional help, that I was able to build confidence and self esteem. It's been almost 2 years since I was diagnosed, and slowly but steadily, with the help of medication, meditation and therapy, I've become stable, happy and I'm really enjoying my life. This has given me a lot of energy and motivation to work on my self esteem issues.

Can you tell us more about your self esteem problems? Is it related to interacting with other people? Can you give us some examples?

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2013, 07:59:00 PM »
Renze nailed it.
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Mikeler

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 01:54:22 AM »
Hi Mike,

A lot of us can relate to your problems so you're not alone on this forum. You sound quite depressed and negative, and my advice is to get some professional (conventional) help for that. In my opinion, you really need to get out of this negative mindset first and into a more positive attitude about life. I've struggled with manic depression for most of my adult life, as well as severe shyness (avoidant personality disorder) and self esteem problems. It was only after stabilizing my mood issues through professional help, that I was able to build confidence and self esteem. It's been almost 2 years since I was diagnosed, and slowly but steadily, with the help of medication, meditation and therapy, I've become stable, happy and I'm really enjoying my life. This has given me a lot of energy and motivation to work on my self esteem issues.

Can you tell us more about your self esteem problems? Is it related to interacting with other people? Can you give us some examples?

Hello Renze. Thanks for your reply.

First part of post

To adress some points. Short summary of my life. Nowadays I'm dealing with negativity and depresssion much better than in the past (I've made drastic improvements in the past 6 months) but I do get really bad episodes from time to time and that's what I was going through when I made this thread hence the really negative tone and such.

In regards to therapists. I did receive help from the NHS. It's the free service that they offer which includes CBT and cognitive restructuring. Because at that point (this was 2-3 months ago) I was so deep in my meditation practice and had read a lot of material on ACT therapy (which is basically mindfulness meditation with a therapy twist) I had ZERO buy in on any attempt to change my thinking. I though that changing my thinking is futile because we humans are programmed by evolution to be negative and to expect the worst, therfore fighting against millions upon millions of years of programming was futile and a waste of energy.


Second part of post

The main issue I have is social anxiety. Low self-esteem is felt around people sometimes (it used to be always and constant but that has changed/improved). For example, what puts me in a negative state is seeing someone who is very socially relaxed 100% of the time(or at least it looks that way)/jokes around with others/ very congruent social behavior (meaning his thoughts/feelings and actions are aligned) and comparing it with my own situation. I have no consistency in feelings and emotions. They fluctuate. Some days I'm feeling 10/10. Easy smooth conversations. Lighthearted mood/playful joking around, very relaxed and fun. The next day I can't look people in the eye/mumble/feel and look awkward/can't make basic conversation to save my life. Another situation is when I go into "validation seeking trips" where I sub-communicate to others with the pretext (subconscious motivations) that I want to be validated (give me attention, react well, don't give bad reactions, be friendly, etc.). This looks weird. It creates anxiety because I have to perform. .

This frustrates me. It makes me sad that I have no control over this. It's like my emotions are a roller coaster and I'm just an observer. This frustrates me because I tie in my success in life (relationships/friends/being relaxed) with how I feel. A good feeling in my body helps me to be more social/relaxed and "successful". Success is the reactions of others, ultimately (something that took me a while to figure out). Bad reactions (bored looks, being ignored, not enough good reactions) is failure. I'm not being social and good enough. Basically good emotions= I can act in a way that I want to act (friendly,joking, very smooth and easy conversation with no awkwardness, etc.). Bad emotions = I'm not in the mood so I can't really act how I want to act in a CONGRUENT WAY withouth appearing like I'm trying hard or being fake. People lose interest, I give the wrong imression, they judge me, maybe avoid me because they have the impression that I'm the quiet guy when I'm not feeling good.

Third part of post.

Meditation made this worse in many ways because of the East/West divide in how the mind and thoughts are seen. West way is change your thinking/change your emotions/control your life/ take responsibility/ be your own man/ YOU CAN BE ANYONE YOU ASPIRE/ CHANGE YOUR LIFE/ MOTIVATION etc. etc.

East way is be mindful/present to the moment/ don't fight against your situation/ what your resist persists/sit with what is and don't try to manipulate and control- IT IS FUTILE.

Two paths. Completely different approaches. They both fly into the face of each other.

This creates cognitive dissonance in my mind and this is painful. What should I do? What is the right way to live and to be? Is Western thinking wrong and misguided? Is Eastern philosophy the TRUE PATH? Those self-help books are telling me to change my thinking and ALL IS GONNA END UP OKAY. Yet, this is completely the opposite of meditation and what I'm doing in my life.

Is Western psychology worth the time? I don't know. I spend most of my waking life trying to figure out the "right way" to look at things in life. The right perspective. Either the West or East.



Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post. Sorry for the rants and long posts.


Renze

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2013, 02:29:23 PM »
Meditation made this worse in many ways because of the East/West divide in how the mind and thoughts are seen. West way is change your thinking/change your emotions/control your life/ take responsibility/ be your own man/ YOU CAN BE ANYONE YOU ASPIRE/ CHANGE YOUR LIFE/ MOTIVATION etc. etc.

East way is be mindful/present to the moment/ don't fight against your situation/ what your resist persists/sit with what is and don't try to manipulate and control- IT IS FUTILE.

Two paths. Completely different approaches. They both fly into the face of each other.

Mike, that's only one side of the Buddha's teachings. There's more to it than the acquiring of wisdom and concentration, perhaps the most important part of the teachings is the sila or morality training. It teaches us that we ARE responsible for our own lives, that we CAN change our own lives and eventually our thinking and emotions.

Second part of post
The main issue I have is social anxiety. Low self-esteem is felt around people sometimes (it used to be always and constant but that has changed/improved). For example, what puts me in a negative state is seeing someone who is very socially relaxed 100% of the time(or at least it looks that way)/jokes around with others/ very congruent social behavior (meaning his thoughts/feelings and actions are aligned) and comparing it with my own situation. I have no consistency in feelings and emotions. They fluctuate. Some days I'm feeling 10/10. Easy smooth conversations. Lighthearted mood/playful joking around, very relaxed and fun. The next day I can't look people in the eye/mumble/feel and look awkward/can't make basic conversation to save my life. Another situation is when I go into "validation seeking trips" where I sub-communicate to others with the pretext (subconscious motivations) that I want to be validated (give me attention, react well, don't give bad reactions, be friendly, etc.). This looks weird. It creates anxiety because I have to perform. .

This frustrates me. It makes me sad that I have no control over this. It's like my emotions are a roller coaster and I'm just an observer. This frustrates me because I tie in my success in life (relationships/friends/being relaxed) with how I feel. A good feeling in my body helps me to be more social/relaxed and "successful". Success is the reactions of others, ultimately (something that took me a while to figure out). Bad reactions (bored looks, being ignored, not enough good reactions) is failure. I'm not being social and good enough. Basically good emotions= I can act in a way that I want to act (friendly,joking, very smooth and easy conversation with no awkwardness, etc.). Bad emotions = I'm not in the mood so I can't really act how I want to act in a CONGRUENT WAY withouth appearing like I'm trying hard or being fake. People lose interest, I give the wrong imression, they judge me, maybe avoid me because they have the impression that I'm the quiet guy when I'm not feeling good.

I recognize a lot of myself in your story. When I'm in a negative mood I want to isolate myself and become very quiet. When I'm in a positive mood I can almost become extroverted. I'm a 'slave' to my mood and I think we should just learn to accept this and deal with it. I'm also constantly seeking validation from others, especially women. And it depresses me when I'm not getting it. There's a self-help book that was a big eye opener for me, and you may have already read it. It's called No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert A. Glover. It's written by a relationship therapist who describes a type of man that does everything to gain approval and avoid disapproval from others. On the surface, this person seems a 'nice guy', but in reality he is dishonest, lying and manipulative. Does this sound familiar? I recommend reading it if you haven't already. It has some really useful tips in how to gradually improve certain aspects of your life to become a more honest person. I found that it fits quite well in what my idea of Eastern psychology is.

Mikeler

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2013, 04:46:16 PM »
I've read Grover's book and I can't relate to it. The examples he uses in his book sound foreign to me.

I don't become "nice" when trying to get approval, I just get shaky and nervous, sometimes awkward.

I have an anxiety disorder, not "Nice Guy" syndrome.

What is your opinion on positive thinking/cognitive restructuring and other therapies which try to influence your thoughts?

Also, why are you telling me to accept it? I don't want to live my life in paralyzing anxiety.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 08:42:07 PM by Mikeler »

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2013, 07:28:54 PM »
Mike,

A lot of the confusion comes over confusion of the word "ego". They mean different things in Western Psychology and Buddhism.

In Western Psychology the "ego" is the conscious sense of self we have, built by the storytelling part of our brain from bits and pieces of (rather selective) experience.

In Buddhism the "ego" is the conscious and unconscious that is built from experience, all of it, including the unconscious and pre-conscious parts of the mind, much of which is deeply habitual but based still on experience, not genetically coded.

Western psychology is trying to build a "healthy functioning ego" .. CBT aims to do this by helping you see thought patterns and habits that do not contribute to your wellbeing and change them actively.

Buddhist practice is trying to help you see and eventually drop all of the baggage it calls "ego" - it's a much different animal, more passive through acceptance of what is NOW and equanimity (seeing things clearly leads to change) and, as Renze says through Sila/discipline/morality (the active side). But in Buddhism the active side is a crutch to help you achieve a good foundation for the passive (i.e. meditative) side of things to work well.

I think this fundamental difference in concept of ego is perhaps part of what is causing you such confusion.

Warmly,

Matthew
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Mikeler

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2013, 08:59:19 PM »
What is this sila/morality that keeps getting mentioned?

My main confusion arises over the whole concept of control and how much we have it.

For example, control over our own moods and thoughts. Western thoughts is about positive and active change, exerting effort to change and doing something.

Eastern way as I already said is about being non-resistant to what is and rather being like water than trying to be a rock if that metaphor helps.

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2013, 09:11:56 PM »
Mike,

Five basic components of Sila/discipline/morality for the layman:

abstention from:

destroying living beings (killing);
taking what is not given (stealing);
sexual misconduct (can be all sex);
incorrect speech (lying, divisive speech etc);
intoxicants that are causes for heedlessness (booze etc)

Quote from: accesstoinsight.org
Sila (virtue, moral conduct) is the cornerstone upon which the entire Noble Eightfold Path is built. The practice of sila is defined by the middle three factors of the Eightfold Path: Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood.


Regarding control and how much we have it/don't have it .... from a Buddhist perspective what we in the west consider our self (ego) is not solid and not in control. It is an emergent function of many unconscious and pre-conscious processes bubbling away under the surface and also the input from the senses.

Eventually something pops into consciousness or appears to our eyes or other senses, we attach to it, identify with it and then make up the story that says "I chose this" ... this is cognitive dissonance. Really we have just sipped the froth on the top of a beer and called that the beer, metaphorically.

Warmly,

Matthew

Source: "Virtue: sila", edited by Access to Insight. Access to Insight, 12 February 2012, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sila/index.html . Retrieved on 19 May 2013.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 09:17:22 PM by Matthew »
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Dharmic Tui

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2013, 10:12:51 PM »
I though that changing my thinking is futile because we humans are programmed by evolution to be negative and to expect the worst, therfore fighting against millions upon millions of years of programming was futile and a waste of energy.
"Fighting" it is indeed a waste of energy, but it's not as futile as you may believe. While we do lean towards the negative, you still have a level of control over how much you let that take hold of you and how much you just brush off. There should come a point in your practice where you may even just have a moment of being able to still see whatever triggers your anxiety, and not react in the usual way, that should provide you with a starting point of insight which you can built on.
I have no consistency in feelings and emotions. They fluctuate.
You may want to stop seeing this as somehow exceptional to yourself, this is an inherent part of the human condition. Everyone has good and bad days, everyone is the introvert and extrovert. If you can see this, and see that all things that arise will pass (i.e. are impermanent) hopefully the change in perspective will diminish your ill feelings.
This frustrates me. It makes me sad that I have no control over this. It's like my emotions are a roller coaster and I'm just an observer.
This is truer than you think, but not necessarily as scary. Despite what our society and media feeds us, life's not supposed to be great all the time. Life's going to have ups and downs so it's foolish to try (unless you were extremely fortunate in your life, but even then, you'd still give yourself problems). We want to run towards the happy, good experiences, and run from the bad, but this will have the opposite effect (good times will end quick while we grab for them, and bad times are prolonged as we try to escape them).

If you can come to view life like a rollercoaster, with you as a passenger and not as the person controlling it (or trying to control it), with enjoyable bits and scary bits that you take for what they are (impermanent) and stop the grasping and aversion you should be able to find the middle way which has you more balanced and calm amoung all these things.

Mikeler

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2013, 03:41:29 AM »
Hmm, do you think one can do meditation practice and do something from Western psychology like CBT?

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2013, 04:21:43 AM »
Hmm, do you think one can do meditation practice and do something from Western psychology like CBT?

Yes. Alternatively there is Mindfulness based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), the latter being the invention of Jon Kabat-Zinn and likely the most productive in conjunction with a good solid foundation of Shamatha/Anapana with whole body as you breathe focus for the types of hinderance you have described.
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kanoo

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2013, 12:53:00 PM »
This is an interesting discussion Mikeler. I feel I am, have been going through pretty much the same things in my own life, but mostly prior to meditation my method had been to try and suppress my feelings of worthlessness and inferiority as much as possible, I tried to be like an actor putting on a persona or a mask of confidence, sometimes it worked, sometimes, actually most times people saw through it... through meditation I have slowly become aware of these feelings and am now deciding or trying to figure out how to release or accept them in some way - I'm also discovering "new" repressed stuff I wasn't even aware of before... which I am having difficulty with right now.

After reading a condensed version of Tolle's first book over a couple of solitary days two years back something strange happened, I seemed to have become more or less instantly present over a period of a couple of days whilst reading it... the strange alien world of the present, all awkwardness anxiety and judgements fell away and a deep peace came over me as the mental chatter in my head began to die and I seemingly accepted the present exactly as it was, then as I was lying in bed, in peace, one morning on the 3rd or 4th day, I started to think  "if I am not this voice in my head - then who am I?" "Who or what is this peaceful presence behind the voice in my head that never ceases" and then I began to panic, I began to worry that I was losing myself to this peace and it had "taken me over" I thought I was losing myself, but now I realize it was just my ego fighting to get back in, to maintain its grip, influence and significance.

Ever since then I have been trying to understand what happened over those 2 days and to get back to that place of peace, I don't know if it is possible in our modern, fast paced lives to maintain it, but I remain convinced that the key to inner peace and acceptance can only be obtained through being fully present in the moment - I now know that it's not possible to destroy the ego, it's always going to be there "if you need it".

I'm currently halfway through an interesting book that claims to integrate both East and West methodologies towards emotional healing called emotional clearing (pm me for details if you're interested) but the main premise is that in order to be cleared, our blockages, problems and feelings do not have to be understood intellectually, simply all that needs to be experienced are the repressed feelings and emotions, apparently by just sitting with them accepting and recalling painful moments and being with the feelings as much as possible is enough to begin to heal them and begin the transformation.

Wishing you peace









Matthew

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2013, 02:51:01 PM »
kanoo,

...
... through meditation I have slowly become aware of these feelings and am now deciding or trying to figure out how to release or accept them in some way - I'm also discovering "new" repressed stuff I wasn't even aware of before... which I am having difficulty with right now.

This is not at all uncommon. I would posit that many, and perhaps most, people who struggle with this kind of issue - and/or with meditation - will eventually find hidden treasure from the past, as they begin to inhabit/examine the present. I call it treasure because it's the real pay-dirt - it is where you will, in washing off the crap, find the gold: your joy, your love, your compassion and much, much more. Speaking from personal experience here.

...
then I began to panic, I began to worry that I was losing myself to this peace and it had "taken me over" I thought I was losing myself, but now I realize it was just my ego fighting to get back in, to maintain its grip, influence and significance.

Biggest hindrance there is.

...
I now know that it's not possible to destroy the ego, it's always going to be there "if you need it".

Destroying the ego comes from a place of desire, from the ego. This is why it is not possible. It is possible for the ego to disappear completely - it just has to agree to it ...

I'm currently halfway through an interesting book that claims to integrate both East and West methodologies towards emotional healing called emotional clearing (pm me for details if you're interested) but the main premise is that in order to be cleared, our blockages, problems and feelings do not have to be understood intellectually, simply all that needs to be experienced are the repressed feelings and emotions, apparently by just sitting with them accepting and recalling painful moments and being with the feelings as much as possible is enough to begin to heal them and begin the transformation.

Would you be OK to post this in the library in the book section? If the details reveal something you would rather not just ignore the suggestion.

Kind regards,

Matthew
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Mikeler

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2013, 12:04:53 AM »
Hi Kanoo.

I'm really content that you found meditation and presence to the moment to be helpful.

I suffer from too much self-doubt, too much ego chatter at this moment to fully immerse myself in this practice.

I ask myself, "If I accept myself at this moment just the way I am and just notice the low-confidence, low self image and everything else that is social anxiety, HOW AM I GOING TO CHANGE?".

See, I'm stuck between the whole self help paradigm of personal development, and "accept yourself unconditionally".

I can't relax about who I am at this moment, because I fear this will keep me stuck forever.

Do you mind posting the book title on this website so everyone can see it? I think lots of people will benefit from this.

Thank you.

kanoo

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2013, 10:35:00 AM »
Sure, I'm going to post it in the book section, I would have posted it here but I was worried that the link might be deleted. I think one of the key things I have learned throughout my meditation practice is that thoughts are just thoughts, they are not me, they are not my identity, this has really helped me when I get stuck in a negative thought loop.

I just kind of resign myself and say oh here comes a flurry of negative thoughts and do my best just to observe and let the thoughts flow through my mind with as little resistance as possible, don't attach, don't grab on, just let them stream through, sometimes it's not always easy, sometimes I get stuck but sometimes I can actually smile at the negative thoughts flowing through my mind (and this is outside of meditation) and decide whether to interact with them - or not - and then I realize this is freedom, I'm free, and I smile to myself and I just feel so peaceful inside.

Really I just have to make a decision between more suffering and attachment or freedom and peace - this moment may only last a few minutes but it is truly empowering. Once you realize that really to a certain degree all suffering is optional. But I'm not there yet but I have a glimpse and yet I know I can't strive paradoxically to get "there" as "there" is really here and now.

floyd

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2013, 10:43:19 AM »
Hi Mikeler

Don't worry about accepting who you are - it makes no difference to vipassana.

I ask myself, "If I accept myself at this moment just the way I am and just notice the low-confidence, low self image and everything else that is social anxiety, HOW AM I GOING TO CHANGE?".

You are always changing and by the very nature of what you are doing, at this moment you are trying to affect this change for the better.

Whatever else you do, try to get into the habit of regular meditating. Meditation is not incompatible with other forms of self help or outside help for that matter. You just need a few minutes for disciplined practice once or twice a day. It's a long road and you'll thank yourself for getting on it sooner.

I expect these are linked elsewhere but there are some excellent audio guides to vipassana here:
http://www.satipanya.org.uk/index.php?page=audio
especially 'Introducing Vipassana Insight Meditation', '45   minute Detailed Guided Meditation' and '45 minute Assisted Meditation'.

Good luck

Matthew

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2013, 01:27:45 PM »
Mike,

...
I suffer from too much self-doubt, too much ego chatter at this moment to fully immerse myself in this practice.
...

This is a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. You suffer lack of right practice leading to the inability to deal with your "self-doubt, too much ego chatter" etc.

I ask myself, "If I accept myself at this moment just the way I am and just notice the low-confidence, low self image and everything else that is social anxiety, HOW AM I GOING TO CHANGE?".

YOU WON'T CHANGE WITHOUT AWARENESS ! IT IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT !

Accepting yourself does not mean saying "well this is me, an insignificant, anxious, worthless blah blah blah .... {fill in the negative self talk here}".

Firstly YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, ACTIONS OR WORDS. You identify with these ever changing phenomena, cling to them out of habit - and label them as "I, me and mine". IT IS NOT TRUE !

Accepting yourself means anchoring yourself in the breath and letting yourself be aware of these changing phenomena at the same time.

BUT FIRST STEP is the development of a STRONG base of calm and equanimity and a little distance between your INNER EXPERIENCE and your PERCEPTION, such that you can develop this base of calm and equanimity to accept: "This is how these things are manifesting right now" ... and in this you will SEE that YOU ARE NOT these things, these phenomena. This awareness will only come with a solid foundation of calm, relaxed mindfulness through repeated practice.

I strongly recommend trying the Shamatha/Calm abiding instructions linked from the homepage and dropping everything else you know about meditation. IT WORKS.

..
See, I'm stuck between the whole self help paradigm of personal development, and "accept yourself unconditionally".

Stuck between your perception of there being a clash - which actually is on the surface level only. Deeper there is no clash: Meditation works on a different level to western methods. Both can be usefully employed without conflict, even at the same time. But to repeat myself: sound foundation of calm first or you have no stable base to initiate further enquiry in either realm.

...
I can't relax about who I am at this moment, because I fear this will keep me stuck forever.

Follow the instructions for Shamatha linked on the frontpage. It will teach you to accept the moment and give you the strength to do so. It will teach you how to relax - an inherent part of the technique. Start there, start with relaxing and being aware in the moment, not in the hell of the story stuck in your mind about your lack of worth.

You are OVERTHINKING all this and the only antidote is to CALM DOWN through RIGHT VIEW and RIGHT PRACTICE!

Warmly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 01:34:00 PM by Matthew »
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kanoo

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2013, 04:59:57 PM »
"Follow the instructions for Shamatha linked on the frontpage" Hi Mikeler I was actually going to suggest the first meditation technique I learned called the "Relaxation Response" which I believe is similar to Shamatha but Matthew got there first (anyway you can find the instructions easily if you Google them if you're curious)

This Shamatha type meditation was my first experience of meditation and within two weeks I could not believe the difference really - it was such an amazing transformation in my quality of thoughts and life - my anxiety levels plummeted and it would be fair to say I felt like a completely new person. I practiced twice a day for 20 mins once in the morning and once and night.

After a few months of that I moved on to Vipassana that is when your thought patterns and awareness of them begin to happen.

garyblackhouse

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Re: Meditation and confidence/self-esteem issues
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2013, 05:54:48 PM »
I might again also recommend some retreat time. When all of these "problems" loom within us it can seem impossible to sit at home with them as well as the other distractions and excuses we make up not to sit. I think it's important to give yourself the opportunity to experience a retreat and propel yourself into practice outside the boundaries.

I can relate to a lot of what you said Mikeler as I'm sure a lot of people here can, I can also sense your will to be happy and peaceful, this is good in a way, but bad in another. In that you know it is possible to be peaceful, but you're trying so hard to be this is why it becomes more difficult. For me all of the music and literature about peace and freedom gave me the hope that if it was possible for them, it must be possible for me. I gave myself a hard time for this because even though I loved music about peace, I didn't feel anything of the sort until I sat down, remained quiet and eventually calmed.