The connection between low self-esteem and parenting

There’s a huge connection between low self-esteem and the way of the parents bring up their children.

Low self-esteem is a form of mental illness. And there are quite many of the world population are suffering from some forms of mental illness, especially low self-esteem.

The main element that contributes to low self-esteem is the family brought up of how the parents bring up their children, where people are being influenced by the trends of the society on how they bring up their children, where the society emphasize on appearance, performance and achievements to be the important values of a society.

People feel that they need to look and behave and carry themselves in certain ways so that they will be accepted and respected by the family and the society. Their perception towards themselves of what they think is who they are and their life existence is very much being defined by their appearance, performance and achievements that is determined by the expectation, opinion, commentary, judgment and criticism from themselves and other people towards them.

Proudness is the shadow that follows low self-esteem. If low self-esteem is absent, proudness doesn’t exist.

Those who suffer from low self-esteem need to feel proud of oneself. This is mainly the responsibility of how their parents brought them up. The parents have expectation towards their children and whether they are aware or unaware, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they are influencing the thinking and belief of their children to become the person that they want them to be and the way that they like it to be, and the way that they think is good for their children. They try to motivate their children to be they way that they like them to be by giving them praise and compliment, and they try to demotivate their children to be the way that they don’t like it to be by giving them criticism and punishment. There’s always assessment and judgment coming from the parents towards their children for how they look and behave, how they perform physically and mentally, and what they achieve or can’t achieve. They will be happy and be nice to their children when their children fulfill their expectation, that they behave and achieve something the way that they like it to be. They won’t be happy or be nice to their children when their children didn’t fulfill their expectation, that they didn’t behave or achieve something the way that they like it to be.

The parents hope that their children are ‘good’ enough and be competent to be able to compete with other people in the society to excel among the others and to be able to fit in into the higher or better class of the society. They want their children to be successful to be respected by the society and live life meaningfully, according to their thinking and belief about what is success and live life meaningfully.

Many parents will say this to their children, whether they are aware or unaware of the consequences of their action and speech, and whether they really mean what they say, or not. But the children will take it seriously, even if the parents didn’t really mean what they say.

“You need to have some sorts of expectation towards yourself to improve and be better. Set up your goal and expectation and strive to achieve your goal and expectation. Then you are considered successful and well-deserved lots of love and happiness and respect from everyone.”

“Good boy/girl! Well done! You make us so proud, mummy and daddy love you so much. Keep it up and be better and better.”

“You are so bad and terrible. Can’t make anyone proud of you. You don’t deserve love from anyone. Mummy and daddy don’t want you anymore. We are so disappointed in you.”

“If you are like this, mummy and daddy don’t want to love you. Look at your sister/brother/friend, they are so much better than you.”

“If you achieve this result, we will give you this and bring you there. If you don’t, we won’t give you this or bring you there. Let you stay at home by yourself. We only bring your brother and sister.”

“Say please and thank you, or else, I won’t give you what you want.”

“Come on, you can do better than this, and you will make everyone proud of you.”

“Are you a good boy/girl, or not? This is not good enough, you can be better than this. If you are very good, then people will love you. If you are not good, then no one will love you.”

This is how the parents nurture their children to grow up becoming people who suffer from all sorts of mental illness.

They always feel bad and dissatisfied with themselves towards the ability, performance and achievements of their physical body and their mind. They always feel that they need to compare and compete with other people, including their siblings, their spouse, their friends, their classmates, their colleagues, their neighbours, and anybody. There is an instinct to constantly judge their and other people’s appearance, ability, performances and achievements to compare and compete with one another. They were being told by their parents to think and believe that they are always not good enough and will never be good enough, that they always have to be better than what they are now. They want to be loved by their parents and everyone, but they think they must first be good enough, and they always afraid of being not good enough for their parents and other people, even though they know they are good enough for themselves. They always longing for praise and compliment, liking, support, agreement and acknowledgement from other people, especially the parents, siblings, friends and spouse. Or else, they will feel very dissatisfied, disappointed and depressed about themselves and their life.

It’s so tiring to try to fulfill the expectation from their parents and the society and themselves, to be good enough that they can be proud of themselves in order to love themselves, and to please everyone expecting people will like and love and be nice to them, for their whole life, in the family, in love relationship, in friendships, in the school, in the workplace, or in the community. They are defined and determined by their actions and the result of their actions, and other people’s reaction and treatment towards them to be who they are, to be happy and feel meaningful, or not.

Those who are free from low self-esteem don’t need to feel proud of anything. They don’t feel bad or dissatisfied about themselves for being what they are, as they are. They know what they can achieve and what is their limitation. But they are not defined or determined by their achievement or limitation to be who they are. They don’t need praise and compliment, liking, support, agreement and acknowledgement from anyone. They are not affected or disturbed or determined by other people’s expectation, opinion, commentary, judgment or criticism towards them. They are not determined or affected by their actions and the result of their actions. They don’t need to be good enough the way that how the world think and believe as good enough in order to love themselves. They love themselves as they are, and they love everyone as they are.

This is the essence of yoga.

There are yoga practitioners including some yoga teachers are not free from the suffering of some forms of mental illness, and it’s okay. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if the mind is not free. Everyone takes their own time to practice and realize the truth and be free.

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Expectation from the yoga students towards the yoga teachers

“How come the teacher didn’t say anything about whether my execution is good or not, or whether I’m doing the postures and movements right, or not?”

In most of the “yoga classes” (yoga asana exercise classes), the teacher or the instructor will go around and adjusting the body of the students, correcting their poses and movements, and telling them whether they are good and whether they are doing it right, and constantly give encouragement to them to try harder, to do something that they don’t want to do, or are not comfortable doing, or what they think they can’t do. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.

In the yoga class of learning and practicing yoga to eliminate ignorance and egoism to free the mind from suffering, the teacher seldom or does not go around adjusting or correcting their physical positions or movements, or give them appraisement whether they are good, or not, whether they are doing it right, or not. Because how they look in the positions or how well they execute the movements are irrelevant towards the elimination of ignorance and egoism to free the mind from suffering.

Wisdom and compassion and the ability to let go and forgive, is nothing to do with making the body more strong and flexible to be able to perform many yoga asana poses beautifully or to mastering the skill to perform the yoga poses. It’s about putting the body in certain positions within the ability and comfort of the physical body and holding the positions comfortably as long as the body can stay in those positions comfortably without struggling, in order to bring the mind to be in the present to calm down and quieting the restless mind, to prepare the mind for meditation. And this is nothing to do with whether the yoga practitioner is performing the yoga poses in perfect alignment or not in the yoga asana practice.

Even when a person can perform all the yoga poses nicely in perfect alignment and executing all the movements correctly and gracefully also doesn’t guarantee that this person is or will be free from ignorance and egoism and impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, arrogance, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, agitation, depression, hurts, regret, guilt, craving, aversion, ill-will, ill-thinking, fear and worry, and so on, if this person doesn’t work on eliminating the egoism that feeds ignorance that gives rise to suffering and all sorts of disturbs and unhappiness.

The teacher who teaches yoga delivers the teachings and the guidelines for the practice to the students to perform their practice, and the teacher might or might not be observing their practice from time to time, but at the same time, without interference, judgement or expectation, allowing the students to experience the teachings while practice what they learn from the teacher about the teachings and the practice, disregards whether their understanding towards the teachings and the practice is perfect or imperfect, and whether they are following the guidelines accordingly, or not, but to inquire the truth of the teachings and the practice through their own direct experience, to develop understanding and awareness towards their own body and mind, to become the observer or the teacher towards their own mind, without attachment, identification, judgement, comparison and expectation.

The students learn to develop self-independence and self-discipline. They don’t need to depend on a ‘teacher’ to tell them whether they are doing their practice correctly, or not, as they should be able to have the basic awareness of whether they are practicing correctly, or not, by being aware of the consequences of the action of doing the poses and movements. For example, the teacher teaches the students who have never seen fire, “Fire can burn your skin and flesh and it might cause painful sensation and damages. And hence do not touch the fire.” and if the students still want to touch the fire, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and got burnt by the fire, that is not the teacher’s responsibility. The teacher cannot be there every seconds watching the students to make sure they don’t touch the fire so that they won’t hurt themselves. The students will have to learn from their own direct experience and be responsible for looking after their own well-being. Just like parents can give advice as much as they can to their children, but they cannot be there all the time to control their children how they should act or react or behave, making sure that they only do good and the right thing, and don’t do bad or the wrong thing.

Only the students themselves will know whether they are practicing yoga, or not. People can be doing yoga poses everyday for years, but they might not be practicing yoga at all, including yoga teachers. It’s not about looking at the teacher and trying to imitate the teacher or other people. The yoga practitioners learn how to perform all their actions, practice, duties, and responsibilities out of compassion, without egoism, being free from attachment, identification, judgement, comparison and expectation towards the actions, the practice, the duties and responsibilities, as well as the result or fruit of the actions, the practice, the duties and responsibilities.

If the students don’t feel comfortable while putting their body in a particular position or executing particular movements, they shouldn’t proceed further or force their body to continue to perform the position or movements that the body feels discomfortable or painful, whether it’s due the limitation of their body, or there’s mind blockage of fear and worry, or it’s due to incorrect understanding towards the practice. If it’s due to their incorrect understanding towards the practice, the teacher will redeliver the guidelines of the practice to them, without expecting them to be fully understanding the practice right away.

The students learn to be aware that all their experiences, whether it’s okay or not okay, are all impermanent. Through their own awareness and understanding, they learn how to make appropriate adjustment to put their body into the positions comfortably, or execute the movements in the way that suits their body most, without expecting a teacher constantly be there to make adjustments for them. Everyone has a different body with different condition and limitation. What is comfortable for some people might be very painful for other people. There’s no best way to execute the movements or the best perfect look of the positions or poses, it’s just what the body can do comfortably, in this present moment. And no body is aware of what is going on in one’s body and mind but oneself, not even the yoga teacher.

For those who have been doing yoga poses for many years, how they look and how they feel in the poses or movements could be different in every practice. It is the truth of impermanence and selflessness. One can’t even look and feel the same in one’s different sessions of practice, then why should one look and feel the same as any others or the teacher in particular in their respective practice?

So what if some people’s body are really inflexible and weak, and they don’t look like everyone else while performing the yoga poses or while executing certain movements? It doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to realize unconditional peace and love or to let go and forgive something that is hurtful. It’s really unimportant and irrelevant about the physical ability and limitation in the realization of selflessness, unconditional peace and love, and the ability to let go and forgive something that the mind perceives as bad, wrong, undeserving, hurtful, painful or disturbing.

A yoga teacher allows the yoga students to take their time to find their own way of putting their body comfortably in the poses without pushing or forcing their body beyond its limitation or disability in the present moment, or adjusting their body and mind by themselves to adapt and accommodate the practice, the poses or the movements with care and responsibility from themselves towards themselves.

What the students can do or cannot do, what the students want or don’t want to do, and how the students interpret and execute the teachings and practice or how they look in the positions or movements are the students’ freedom and responsibility. The yoga teacher is not here to control and judge every action of the yoga students. After learning the teachings and practice by coming in contact with the teachings from a teacher, it’s up to the yoga students to interpret and perform the teachings and practice in their own pace, in their own way, by experiencing and inquiring the truth of these teachings and practice.

The students should be learning how to be aware of their practice and understand the practice via direct experience, without attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgement, comparison and expectation, and don’t depend on the teacher to look at their practice and constantly telling them about how good or bad is their practice. It’s not about how perfect do they look in the positions and how good they execute the movements, but it’s about via the positions and movements, they learn about what is going on in their minds, about the ignorance and egoism and the consequences of ignorance and egoism, about the suffering and the cause of suffering, about the impermanence and selflessness of the physical body and the activities of the mind of all the ceaseless thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions, reactions and impurities.

In order to perform the exercise safely so that the yoga practitioners won’t generate stress or injury onto the physical body has nothing to do with executing the yoga poses or movements in perfect alignment. It’s by understanding and listening to their own body, just do what their body can do comfortably in this present moment, in a relaxed manner, without forcing or pushing their body beyond its limitation, without trying to follow the standard of the perfect alignment, there’s no stress or risk of injury. In contrast, while trying to perform the positions or movements according to the perfect alignment that is beyond their physical limitation, to look exactly like other people or the teacher, building up tension from attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgement, comparison and expectation, could generate unnecessary stress and injury to the body and mind while trying to perform the yoga poses perfectly according to the standard of perfect alignment. Putting the body in the perfect alignment also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is or will be free from ignorance, egoism and suffering. People who are physically fit, strong and flexible, and can perform many yoga poses skillfully in perfect alignment, are not necessarily be free from ignorance, egoism and suffering.

Be free.

Be free from ignorant expectation that leads to unnecessary disappointment

All disappointments derived from expectation. While some minds can get over disappointment easily and move on or hope for better and be driven to strive harder, but there are many minds couldn’t get over it, being hammered by huge/repeated/continuous disappointment, and might fall into low self-esteem or depression, affecting one’s physical and mental health as well as one’s relationships with everyone in life.

Most people think and believe that all human beings need to have some sorts of expectation to motivate and push themselves in everything that they pursue to attain great achievements and to be continuously improve.

In yoga, expectation is merely part of the egoism derived from ignorance, and it is truly unnecessary. When the mind is free from egoism, there’s no need to have expectation to motivate or push oneself to be good and be better, or to achieve something. One just do one’s best to perform all actions and allow the result of the actions to be what it is, without being determined by the actions or the result of the actions to be ‘I’, to be happy, and to feel proud and meaningful, or not.

There’s no disappointment when the result of the action is not as good as what we think it should be. There’s no pride and arrogance when the result of the action is as good as or better than what we think it should be.

There’s nothing wrong when people feel disturbed or offended or disappointed by other people didn’t response to their ‘friendliness’ and ‘kindness’ the way that they think how it should be, or when other people are not interested to have any social interactions with them. But, this is truly unnecessary.

When we practice yoga, we allow everyone to be what they are, without expecting everyone should be ‘good’ and be ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ to all other beings, or to ‘I’. We don’t expect everyone should behave in the way that we think all human beings should behave, or they shouldn’t behave in the way that we think they shouldn’t behave. We respect everyone as they are, that different people are being different from us and everyone else. But, there are many ‘good people’ in the world have expectation towards how other people should and shouldn’t behave, and be disappointed and disturbed when other people don’t behave the way that they think they should behave, and when they behave the way that they think they shouldn’t behave.

If we have expectation towards how other human beings should and shouldn’t behave or interact with the rest of the society, we will be very disturbed and disappointed, when we think and believe all human beings should be ‘socially active’ and be ‘warm’ or ‘nice’ to each other, especially to ‘I’, but there are people who are not ‘socially active’ and didn’t have the intention be ‘warm’ or ‘nice’ to other people, especially to ‘I’. This disappointment is truly unnecessary, and it’s derived from our own ignorant expectation. And we judge these people’s way of life or behavior as ‘bad and ‘wrong’, because we think everyone should somehow be active to ‘social interact’ with other human beings in a way that we think is ‘good’ and ‘right’.

When the mind is free from ignorance, we will know that there is nothing bad and wrong in other people for being socially inactive or didn’t have initiative or interest to be ‘warm’ or ‘nice’ to other people, especially to ‘I’. We won’t be disturbed or disappointed by other people who keep to themselves and are not actively sociable or they don’t particularly do something that we think is ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ gestures.

When other people didn’t have intention to disturbed or hurt us, didn’t interfere with our thinking and believe, didn’t criticize our way of life and behavior, and didn’t intentionally do or say something that is ‘not nice’ to us, and allow us to be what we are, then even though they didn’t do anything ‘extra’ that we think is ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ to other people or to ‘I’, they are already being very ‘good’ and ‘kind’ and ‘nice’ to us.

We, whom we think we are ‘good people’ and better human beings than other people whom we disagree with their thinking and belief, their way of life and behavior that we think is ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’, and we go around judging people and interfering with other people’s thinking, belief, ways of life and behavior that we don’t like and disagree with, we are actually the ones who are being ‘not nice’ to other people. And we get more disappointed when other people didn’t show gratefulness and thankfulness and appreciation towards our ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ gestures to them, as we expect other people should be grateful and thankful and appreciate when we are being ‘warm’ and nice’ to them. This is complete ignorant thinking and it’s truly unnecessary.

Meanwhile there are people in the world who are ‘socially active’ and are ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ to other people all the time, especially to ‘I’, but at the same time, they might do and say something that would disturb or hurt other people, and interfering with other people’s thinking and belief and way of life, judging and criticizing and complaining about other people, whether intentionally or unintentionally, sometimes in front of people, and other times, behind other people’s back.

Be grateful and thankful that there are people who keep to themselves and don’t disturb other people’s life and leave us alone, that allow us to be free to be who we are, how we think, what we believe, how we live and behave, that even though they are not intentionally or particularly being ‘sociable’ or ‘friendly’ or ‘warm’ or ‘nice’ to us, but at least they didn’t be ‘cruel’ or ‘not nice’ to us, or they didn’t disturb and hurt us.

Allow people to be ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ to other people, or not. If people want to be ‘warm’ and ‘nice’ to us, we receive with gratitude and appreciation. If people don’t have the initiative or interest to be ‘warm’ and ‘nice’, let them be. It doesn’t mean that they are not good or they are bad people. Be compassionate and understanding.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think and believe and behave, and how they react and feel. If people want to have expectation, that’s their freedom. If people feel disappointed towards something, that’s also their freedom.

Be free.

Let go the ego

The ego constantly expects or looks for acceptance, love, care, kindness, support, recognition, approval, acknowledgement, attention, companionship, friendship, interaction, cooperation, encouragement, appreciation, praise and compliment, or anything that make the ego feels good, confident, proud and meaningful about itself from other people, or the family/group that it thinks it belongs to, or the society, or the world.

This ego will hurt itself and/or others if it doesn’t get what it’s looking for, thinking and believing that all its unhappiness, disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, anger and hurt are caused by other people’s bad and wrong behavior, or unkind, uncaring, unloving and unsupportive reaction and treatment, or inappreciation, or criticism, or unfriendliness, or selfishness, and so on.

Let go this ego. Be free from all these ‘unnecessary’ attachment, longing, clinging, expectation, craving and aversion.

The mind that is free from the ego doesn’t need acceptance, love, support, recognition, approval, acknowledgement, attention, companionship, friendship, interaction, cooperation, encouragement, appreciation, praise and compliment from anyone, or family/group, or the society, or the world, to feel good, confident, proud or meaningful. The mind is free as it is, peaceful as it is.

No one can free other people’s minds from the ego. It has to come from within willingly and determinedly to let go the ego, the root cause of all ‘suffering’ and ‘problems’ of humanity.

No one is obliged to be kind, caring and loving to one another. Allow everyone to show love, care and kindness, or not. It’s the attachment and expectation towards the worldly thinking and idea about “Human should be like this or like that, and shouldn’t be like this or like that” that generates great disappointment in us towards what we think is ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘inhumanity’. But what we think is ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘inhumanity’ has no power to disappoint anyone. Be free.

The ego is also the one who wants to feel being ‘wanted’ or ‘needed’ by others, that there are people want me or need me, that ‘I’ am good enough, that ‘I’ am able to give love and care or inspiration and motivation to others, which give a sense of pride and meaningfulness to itself. Otherwise, the ego will feel bad and meaningless about itself, thinking and feeling that it is unneeded or unwanted by others, that it is not good enough, that no body wants or needs love and care or inspiration and motivation from it.

Once the mind is free from the ego, one can love and care for others unconditionally, without identification and attachment towards the action of giving love and care to others and the result of the action. There’s no expectation that people should be grateful and appreciative, or should show us love and care in return. One doesn’t need other people’s love and care and appreciation to feel loved, worthy or meaningful. One doesn’t need to feel loved, worthy or meaningful, at all. There’s no fear of being unloved, unworthiness or meaninglessness. One does good to others, and loves and cares for others not because it will make ‘me’ feel good about ‘myself’ or expecting to receive love and care in return. And that is liberation.

Be kind, but don’t expect other people also be kind.

Be loving, but don’t expect other people also be loving.

Do good and don’t do bad, but don’t expect other people also do good and don’t do bad.

Drive with attentiveness and following the rules, but don’t expect other drivers also drive with attentiveness and following the same rules.

Love and peace to all.

Let go attachment, identification and expectation in all relationships

If we truly love those who are in all kinds of relationships with us, whom we think we love, and if we love them, we will wish everyone be peaceful and be happy while being in the relationships with us, then we need to let go attachment, identification and expectation towards ourselves, the relationships and the people in the relationships with us. Otherwise, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we will keep hurting ourselves and everyone whom we think we love, who are in a form of relationship/connection with us. There’s no love. There’s only possessiveness and endless selfish desires (towards the people whom we think we love and the relationships we have with everyone) waiting to be gratified.

Especially in love relationships, if a person truly loves us, we don’t need to say or do anything to expect or control this person’s behavior so that he or she will not or shall not do anything that is unkind or unloving or hurtful to us. If a person would do something that is unkind or unloving or hurtful to us, out of selfish desires, dissatisfaction, greed and lust, whether within or without our knowledge, then this person doesn’t love us, even though this person thinks he or she loves us, and we love and care for this person very much, because this person doesn’t even love himself or herself. They only love what they like and want (desires). In this case, we can let this person and the relationship with this person go, even though we love this person, but we don’t have to be in a relationship with this person who doesn’t love us or appreciate us. And more importantly, it’s that we won’t feel hurt by this person’s unkind, unloving or hurtful behavior if we truly love this person as he is, as she is. We wish him or her love and peace, and let him or her go to chase after their desires that they like and want, which they can’t get (enough) from being in a relationship with us. Meanwhile, we are happy and peaceful and live life meaningfully as we are, because we don’t depend on other people’s love and kindness or any relationships to make us feel happy or meaningful about ourselves and our life existence.

If we think we love this person very much, and we reluctant to let go this person and this relationship, but, at the same time we feel disturbed and hurt by this person’s unkind, unloving and hurtful behavior, then this is our own responsibility, as we don’t want to let go. This also means that we don’t love this person either, we only love what we like and want, and we only want to possess this person to be ‘mine’, and to possess this person’s love and the relationship with this person. We want him or her to behave in certain ways. We want our relationship with him or her to be in certain ways. We want him or her to love and treat us in certain ways. It’s all about what we like and want. And when we don’t get what we like and want, but we are getting what we don’t like and don’t want, or when what we like and want has changed into something that we don’t like and don’t want, or we are losing what we like and want, we feel disturbed and hurt, disappointed and angry. It’s not because the person in the relationship with us is not loving or unkind, or their behavior is bad and wrong that is hurting us, or has the power to hurt us. It’s our own attachment, identification and expectation that hurts our ego, which is unnecessary.

This is the same as in all our relationships with everyone and everything, whether it’s with family, siblings, parents, children, friends, society, things, and the world that we live in. We think we love this and that. We think we love the world that we live in. And we constantly feel disturbed and hurt, disappointed and angry when people and things that we love, or the world that we love, are not the way that we like or want it to be. It’s merely ignorance and egoism.

Be free, whether we have any kind of relationship with anyone, or not, and whether the relationships we have with everyone are good and long lasting, or not. There’s no attachment, identification or expectation. There’s no unfulfilled desires, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, hurts, guilt, fear and worry.

Allow everyone to love us and be kind to us, and to be in a relationship with us, or not. Love everyone as they are, even though they don’t love us, or they are unkind to us, or they don’t want to be in a relationship (anymore) with us.

Be free.