Never let people's opinions and behaviour towards you define how you see yourself!

Hailey, why can’t you reason logically for once? Why do you always act so dramatically? Babe, you know your intelligence is limited to just academics, right? You’re incredibly naive! Look at Efulu, she’s so streetwise… These statements went on and on in Hailey’s mind as she mulled over her life experiences in the past few years.

She was starting to believe in her own stupidity, after all, people are a mirror reflection of what’s within you!

The day was far spent and she looked at herself in the mirror. My, what big eyes I have! Hailey peered closely at her reflection, dissatisfied with how fat she looked. Of course, I’m getting fatter and I will soon be a fat cow! Didn’t Shida say so the last time she came over? She sighed as she turned away from the mirror, whistling to herself as she picked up the clothes on the floor. There was a webinar for Grown Wounded Inner Children in two days’ time and She was eager to attend it. You never know what you might learn from it!

The phone rang. It was Shida. With a longsuffering sigh, Hailey picked up her phone.

“Babe, where are you?” Shida queried her.

“Where else should I be? I’m in my room, of course!”

“In my room, of course!” Shida sneered. “Do you ever think of how to make your life more interesting other than going to work and the art museum?” Hailey did not respond. “Listen, I have some guys who are itching to meet you. They live close to my house, so we’ll be able to hang out with them at the pub.”

“At the pub?” She groaned. “You know that booze and the smell of cigarettes give me headaches and dizziness. Can’t we meet your friends elsewhere?”

“No, we can’t. That’s their watering hole so they won’t want to go elsewhere. Well, I guess I could ask them for you.”

“Thank you!”

Hailey decided to look at the bio of the webinar’s speaker. It was a woman who had battled with chronic self-esteem issues until she discovered the techniques she wished to share during the webinar. Hmmm… I think I can relate to the woman’s experiences.

Self-awareness is the prerequisite to having a stable self-image. Without it, Hailey would never have known she didn’t enjoy Shida’s company.

Fast forward to the day of the webinar. She checked her router to be sure the internet connection was good and sat in front of her laptop as she logged into the webinar with the details given to her via email. It had begun! With a gasp, Hailey turned up the volume on her laptop and listened closely, taking notes as the woman spoke.

The speaker, Tonya, narrated how she grew up with an alcoholic father and a disciplinarian mother. Whenever Daddy was sober, he was fun to be with, but in his drunken moments, he would swear and call her all sorts of bad names. Mum was often stressed out from trying to hold the fort and she took out her marital frustration on the young girl, who had to look outside for the love and acceptance she craved. Unfortunately, she discovered that the world was sometimes a pretty dark place to be in and she met people, ostensibly her friends, who tried to put her down at the slightest opportunity and invalidate her. Her self-esteem issues grew worse.

Until one day, she stumbled upon the writings of Theron Troward, who explained that her sense of self must come from within and be independent of people’s opinions. The author encouraged her to think back on her behaviour, with the knowledge of words & their meanings and try to think of the times she had acted consistently with the traits she admired in other people. He also defined values as those traits that motivate her towards self-improvement. And he urged her to not equate people’s interest in associating with her as a desire to commit to treating her as she would like.

Afterward, she thought deeply about the lessons gleaned from the webinar. Hailey concluded that being around people whose company she doesn’t enjoy solely because they ostensibly act like they like her was worsening her self-image. She resolved to tell Shida exactly how she felt whenever Shida told her those demeaning remarks and invalidating statements. And she also decided to reflect on her strengths every day, rather than focus on her real and perceived flaws.

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