My employer had an inventory this week. We have been checking to make sure that everything has a price tag and is neatly placed on the shelf. Items that fell behind displays were pulled out bringing along cobwebs and dust. Aaachoo!
Many of us have based our views of ourselves on what others say rather than the truth. If my employer assumed we had what the computer said with did, we would never know when something has been stolen or just plain lost. So, we need to examine and catalog our strengths and weaknesses. Then, we can base our self-esteem on the truth.
Here are some suggestions on how you can complete this inventory. Treat this as a menu of options. Use what you can and toss the rest.
1. Write an autobiography. After you have written it, re-read it. What can you learn about yourself? Do you see any patterns? Patterns can show us where we need to work on. Was there an area that you found too painful to write about? Best moment? Worst moment?
2. Look up your issue(s) and use a list of its symptoms as a guide. This can be a mental health disorder, co-dependency or some other issue. This can give you an idea of what others have experienced. Then you can use the list to examine yourself using each one of the points of the list. Remember that you don’t need to have all of the symptoms. You might could use the Burns Anxiety inventory or the Burns Depression inventory.
3. Write an autobiography on a specific area that you feel that you need to work on. I could see myself writing an autobiography on my struggle with authority figures and my tendency to rank people. I suspect that you also have a special area that mystifies you. This can give you a chance to explore that area. Again, seek out any behavior patterns after you have finished writing it.
4. List resentments like Alcoholic’s Anonymous recommends. AA’s blue book recommends listing one’s resentments in one column and listing the causes and how it affects him/her. I think this list can help a person see that he/she felt hurt by what happened. They also advise the reader to review his/her own behavior in these situations to see if they did the right thing or not.
5. Our wrongs and wrongs done against us. This is a painful thing to do but it helps us to repent of our sins and recognize where others have sinned against us. The Narcotics Anonymous book states “These defects grow into the dark, and die in the light of exposure.” (page 31) “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” (Psalm 32: 3-4.) This verse describes the pain that unconfessed sin brings into a person’s life. It eats at us until we hate ourselves. To improve our self-esteem, we need to deal with these wrongs or sins in our live. What happens when we do this? Let read on. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5) God is willing and ready to forgive us our sins. This is a reminder to recognize the fact that God has forgiven us. Now, we need to forgive ourselves. Step five involves sharing this inventory with another person. Please be very careful on selecting this person. You want someone who will listen to you and accept you no matter what. The Narcotics Anonymous book states,”We feared that if we ever revealed ourselves as we were, we would surely be rejected.” (Page 31) Through the act of repentance before God and another person, we can learn to accept ourselves.
6. Asset inventory. List your strengths. “Assets must also be considered, if we are to get an accurate and complete picture of ourselves. This is very difficult for most of us, because it is hard to accept that we have good qualities.” (Narcotics Anonymous, Page 28) If you can’t think of anything, ask your friends, co-workers and family members for help. Re-read your autobiography for the strengths that is lurking in between the lines.
The basic list for this post is from Co-dependent’s Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melody Beattie.