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Risking can increase our self-esteem, can strengthen our inner selves, but be must have some understanding of just what this mysterious and often-used word "self" is before we can do much about it. There is, of course, our physical self, and a few minutes in front of a full-length mirror can tell us a lot about that: how tall or short we are, how thin or fat, how attractive or unattractive, our hair color, our eye color, and all the other elements that make each of us unique.
But there is that other self, the inner self, the name we give to the unifying force that ties together all the different aspects of our personality. One important part of that self is what we think we are, and the happy truth is that we aren't always aware of what we think. All of us have a "core" personality that remains relatively stable, but the "self" seems to float free of that personality and shift and change as circumstances differ.
This is pretty news for all of us who aren't overly thrilled with the "self" we have. It means that "self" can be changed. If we have a problem with Sexual Chemistry, and that problem is related to self-esteem, it can be solve
Craig is a prime example of someone with just such a problem. We talked to him in his small town in the Midwest, where he works in the service department of a car dealership.
Craig is that delight of employers, a workaholic. He's one of the best auto mechanics in town, and love his job. He comes in before the shop opens and stays long after it closes, and on weekends he's completely happy working on the two half-dismantled cars in his back yard.
"The trouble is," Craig admitted, "the only real pleasure I get out of life is my work."
"What about your social life? What about women?"
Craig snorted. "What social life? You gotta be kidding. As for women, forget it. they turn off just looking at me.
We found that hard to believe. At twenty-three, Craig is tall, good-looking, and smart. His problem, he explained, was that he didn't have social graces. "Like I go to a party and I get a drink and sit in a corner watching the other guys dance and kid around with the girls. It looks so easy for them Effects And Stages, but I just don't know how to do it myself. When I talk to a girl, my palms get all sweaty. I stutter and stammer, and I know that in a couple of minutes she'll find some excuse to take off.
In defense, Craig went to fewer parties, and threw himself into his work. He got his satisfaction out of being the best mechanic in town-enough, he assured himself, to skip the social events he was invited to. The more he was praised at his job, and the more people who insisted that Craig and no one else handle their car, the more he buried himself in his work. "The point is" -he shrugged - "I'm a jerk with women, and I'd better get used to that. At least I'm a damned good mechanic!"
What Craig had done to himself was revealed in that last statement. He had given two label to his inner self; a jerk with women and a great mechanic. All of us, in one way or another, attach labels to our inner selves. Somewhere along line we decide that we are either good or bad, clever or stupid, handy or clumsy, careful or careless-the -the list could go on endlessly.
When the label we hand on our self is good, we're ahead of the game. If affects us in a positive manner. Let a woman be firmly convinced that she's sex therapy and she'll act like one and usually be perceived as one. Let a man label himself brave and he'll be brave in most circumstances. The labels convince us to what we are-so much so that all Craig needed to act like a jerk with women was the label-jerk. Craig carried a few other labels around with him, and one was workaholic. In fact, he took some pride in being one. In a way it made up for his awkwardness with women -at least in his own mind.
Before we can get rid of our labels, at least the bad ones, we have to discover them, explore them, and learn the simple facts about them. Ate they true or not? To get at this with Craig, we asked him how he had felt at the last party he went to. He answered, "Awful! I was uncomfortable. It was kind of like a discotheque and there were too many people, all milling around. It was a small place, and all that noise. I just wanted to get out. "
A friend of his who had been at that party described it differently. "What a great scene! They had strobe lights and we were all close, real close, and they had of Pheromones and Fantasy rock music, and there was all that fabulous touching and contact. I felt terrific, and my feelings spilled out. I had a sensational time!
Listening to both, you'd never believe it was the same party. Which of the two was right, Craig or his friend? In a way, both were. The difference lay in each one's perception of the party. Our perception of what happens to us and our reaction are not only caused by the label we put on our inner selves, they also cause the label or strengthen it.