Practical Ways to Build Self-Esteem (3)
By: Beth McHugh 2006
In our last article on Self-Esteem, we looked at the cases of Lani and Kane. Lani was attractive but believed she wasn’t. Kane was a success in anyone’s book: except his own. Let’s find out why both Lani and Kane have such a warped sense of their own self-worth.
Lani’s mother and older sister were both very attractive women. From an early age, Lani “knew” that her mother and sister were good-looking, but as she herself didn’t receive the same sort of admiring comments as she grew up, Lani made the obvious (to her) conclusion: she was unattractive. Lani’s mother never made adverse comparisons between Lani’s appearance and that of her older sister, but neither did she make any positive comments either. Growing up, Lani took this as further evidence of her own unattractiveness. In Lani’s mind, her mother didn’t say anything good about Lani’s looks simply because there was nothing good to say.
But it wasn’t only Lani’s mother who inadvertently sowed the seeds of doubt in Lani’s mind; the occasional comments of relatives and neighbors, and of course, the opposite sex, all cemented firmly the belief in Lani’s mind that she was unattractive. Carrying that firmly entrenched belief over many years, Lani then acted as though she was unattractive. She had little interest in making the best of her looks, and withdrew during her teenage years into her own personal world: a world inhabited by an ugly duckling called Lani. Now 28, she still believes it.
Kane, our successful lawyer, suffers from a similar case of “mistaken identity”. Kane was the only child of a poor farmer, and his father’s sole purpose in life was to make Kane a success. Discovering his child was naturally bright, Kane’s father made elaborate plans for Kane’s future, including that of being a corporate lawyer. When Kane graduated from law school, his father was surprisingly dissatisfied; instead he threw himself into plotting Kane’s next assault on the legal world—a position in a prestigious New York law firm.
Kane’s father died shortly after Kane’s graduation, but his grandiose schemes still clamor in Kane’s ears. Kane’s wife is happy to have the family living in their hometown, surrounded by friends and family. But all Kane sees is that he has failed his father. The fact that he doesn’t even want to live in New York, and that his father is long dead does not matter. Kane believes he has failed to live up to his potential.
What can Lani and Kane do to change the way they think about themselves?
Why can’t they see that, to the rest of the world, they are both
attractive and successful? We will follow the story of Lani and Kane
in future articles.