When I was about thirteen I was told a story about a boy who got up and put a chain around his neck each morning with a plaque hanging from it. Words were written on the plaque and he wore it like a medallion. Each morning as he put it on, the plaque was new and shiny and polished. During the day little things would happen which resulted in scratches and dents left in his plaque, and if he stumbled and fell, sometimes pieces of it would break off. Every time he encountered a bully, or someone said something nasty about him, or swore at him, or made fun of him, his plaque would become more damaged until it began to disintegrate. Sometimes the words or actions of his family caused further damage to the plaque. Often when he went to bed, there were no words left to read, because there was barely any plaque left on the chain. The words on the plaque had read ‘I am Lovable and Capable’.
Isn’t that just like our self esteem – that sometimes it appears to be made of granite while other times it feels like tissue paper or polystyrene or very thin pastry. One drop of water, one cut, one knock and it crumbles into tiny pieces.
I felt like that today, not that my self esteem was made of granite but that it was thin pastry and it crumbled – just a bit. It only lasted a matter of minutes, and maybe half an hour later it was as if it hadn’t happened at all. I said something foolish, not well thought through, not what I’d intended to say at all, and the response was belittling. And I felt silly and small and of no consequence.
So I guess the opportunity here was: Do I hold on to this hurt? (some of which was tinted by my perception – which hasn’t always been accurate in the past) or do I let it go and move on?
And I let it go.
It is possible that in a few months I won’t even remember what caused that feeling of being small and inconsequential. It wasn’t a big deal in the overall scheme of life. It was a little life incident that reminded me that I’m human, and I have weaknesses and I make mistakes. But it doesn’t define me, nor does it ruin my day – because I choose not to let it. We all have battles. And incidents. But I choose to believe that regardless of this particular incident, my self esteem is not tarnished, cracked or broken, and if it is, it can be repaired. I’m allowed to mess up. And as human beings, that’s part of how we learn and grow. So I need to learn to use these ‘incidents’ – in this case, to think a little more carefully before I speak. And to hold an open hand – to be willing to let things go and to move on. And maybe in doing so, I might grow. Because… I AM lovable and capable.