Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Self-Esteem and Making Mistakes

I came across a blog this morning that is very different from the blogs I normally read, and may stretch my readers a little. The purpose is similar and the audience is very different. It's written as a dating guide for geeks, called The Geek's Guide to Getting the Girl. Very alliterative.

I don't know if any of you have noticed from a few passing references in past posts that I have a geek streak. In some of my spare time, I play video games. I built my home computer so it would have the ability to handle World of Warcraft. My husband is a technophile. I have played Dungeons and Dragons. Donald would remind me that I am nowhere near a true geek because I have very good social skills. I do, however, suffer from low self-esteem in several areas, and while I am not a male, some of the things Elizabeth discusses in her blog strike home with me.

<watches her readership flee>

Elizabeth's post yesterday, entitled Changing Your Worldview gives a very clear and blunt message: "People with poor self-esteem are the only ones comparing themselves to other people. No one with a good sense of self-esteem cares." She goes on to say that it doesn't matter if we aren't the best at something. This is hard for me. I have written about needing to resist comparing myself to other people and to instead, compete with myself. I had not clearly connected it to self-esteem.

She also makes the suggestion to her readers that they should make a list of the things they do only because they think they ought to do them and then stop doing them. Now, obviously, if we stop taking out the trash because it is unpleasant, some pretty yucky consequences will result. This isn't her point though. The suggestion to consider what we spend our time doing and whether it is a worthwhile activity is all about addressing our priorities and making sure that we are acting in line with our values.

My self-esteem is directly connected with my need to be good at everything I do and to always do things right the first time.

Today on The Bold Life, Tess showcased Wilma's Blog in a post written by Wilma called When The Heart Guides The Mind.... Wilma writes about the wonderful things that can happen when we follow our heart and not our minds first. Deciding to follow one's heart when our mind is clearly in opposition takes an incredible amount of courage and determination. One of the things that often prevents me from ignoring my mind is my desire to do everything right the first time.

Donald and I talked about this last night before bed. I had spent an hour or two that evening playing Batman: Arkham Asylum on the XBox 360. Let me give you some background. First, I LOVE Batman. Second, Donald loves trying new video games and plays many different games in the course of a month; I try one after having it recommended highly to me and then I play it until I master it. I'm generally a one game girl. He is the one who got me to try video games in the first place; I was in graduate school. We play video games for completely different reasons and in completely different ways.

These differences translate directly into the way we live our lives. I am methodical and careful. I like to know what I'm supposed to do before I do it. Donald tries the first thing he sees and if that doesn't work, tries something else. He experiments and uses his failures to find his way to the right path. I fear failure and want to explore many paths before choosing one.

I was plodding steadily through the game last night and I entered a room with some bad guys in it. Batman has a "detective mode" that allows him to see through walls and such, so I could see how many bad guys there were. It took me a while to understand that they could not see me though, because this mode makes all of the walls look transparent and I assumed that I could be seen. I had to keep flipping back and forth between the two to get a clear picture of what I was dealing with.

One of the reasons I like this game is because much of what Batman does is sneaky. He hangs from gargoyles and sneaks up on people. He does not go rushing straight into combat, especially when the bad guys have guns. He takes his time to case the situation and is methodical in the execution of his plans. At least, he does when I'm playing him.

Donald was keeping me company and made suggestions and encouraged me to explore the room to figure out what I was supposed to do. Normally I appreciate his help because I am still a novice at video games of this type and I am not familiar with my options. For some reason though, last night, I just got more and more agitated about wanting to do it right the first time. I didn't want to try something that wasn't going to work. I wanted Batman to be perfect.

I could feel my internal four-year-old banging around inside me, saying "It's TOO HARD! I don't want to DO this anymore!" Luckily, I glanced at the clock and it was time for me to head to bed anyway, so I saved and quit.

Once we were in bed, I had relaxed enough to talk about it without whining. Donald pointed out our different gaming styles and gave me pointers about how to approach the game and its scenarios in less stressful ways. The part that really stuck out for me, though, was my apparent need to do everything right the first time. It had never been so clearly illustrated to me.

How much has that need been holding me back? I need some good challenges to start breaking that habit. Any suggestions?


  1. Hi there Daphne! Interesting blogs I just toured through here - so much energy too! Kudos.

    I can certainly relate to your wanting to do everything "right" - used to makes myself NUTS with that - it also kept me from trying things I didn't think I could DO "right". What changed me? Age. Realizing perfectionism sucks. Learning to love myself and be patient with ME. Oh the ego thing kicks up now and again and says "Get it right!" and I've learned to say Oh HUSH.

    Ok - relating to your earlier blog - if you are even contemplating motherhood, get this perfectionism clear out of your head. You will make a nervous wreck of yourself, alienate Donald and make your child neurotic. Heap your plate full of acceptance and relax!

    Hope you buzz over to my blog more - you'll find yes, I do have a weird, sometimes sarcastic, sense of humor but I'm all about helping people get motivated, inspired, and see the joy in life! You already follow many of the people I do - yay you! It's like we are friends already!

  2. suZen - Thank you so much for your comment and encouragement. I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. I read your comment last night and your words have been tumbling around in my mind ever since. I'm planning a post about it and I'd like to acknowledge here that you certainly prompted a wake up call for me. I am so grateful for your honesty and support.

  3. Hi Daphne-
    I think suZen hit the nail right on the proverbial head. "Getting it right" is an almost completely unattainable goal because people who continually chase perfection will ultimately always find failure. There's no way to live up to one's own expectations if you leave no room for error. And...I can so relate! Realizing that you are a perfectionist, and that it's not healthy, is a GIANT first step in the process! =)

  4. Mindy - Thank you for stopping by! It is amazing how daunting it is to set oneself an unattainable goal. At this point, I'm trying to figure out how to train myself out of doing this. I really appreciate your encouragement and support and for reminding me that the little steps along the way should be celebrated.


I welcome and appreciate your comments!