Self-esteem and confidence

Any issues regarding self-esteem and confidence shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be existing at all. But due to ignorance and egoism, many people depend on self-esteem and confidence to be who they are, to be happy and feel meaningful, or not. Many people are suffering from mild to severe low self-esteem or low confidence that leads to the sense of meaninglessness and depression. Even many mental and psychological related studies and professionals also preach, think and believe that the development and empowerment of self-esteem and confidence is very important in life existence as human beings and it’s the key to personal and global growth, success and happiness.

Real confidence has nothing to do with self-esteem or confidence that builds on physical appearance, condition, ability and achievement, or mental state, ability and achievement, or desirable and undesirable life experiences, or good and bad relationships with parents, family, friends and the rest of the world. It is beyond all these names and forms, when the mind has gone beyond the identification of what the mind thinks is ‘I’ and ‘my’, where this identification of ‘I’ and ‘my’ with the different qualities of names and forms is just a by-product of the worldly thinking and belief, or family, cultural, social and religious belief.

It’s the ego that feels it has to be good enough for something, or for somebody, or for oneself. It also feels that it might be not good enough for something, or for somebody, or for oneself, based on what the thinking and belief recognize as ‘good’ and ‘good enough’, or what is ‘self-esteem and confidence’, ‘success’, ‘happiness’ and ‘meaningfulness’, and the relationship between them, where most people think and believe that ‘high self-esteem and confidence’ is related to ‘success’, and ‘success’ is related to ‘happiness’, while ‘happiness’ is related to ‘meaningfulness’. And many people are suffering because of this thinking and belief or trying to live up to this thinking and belief for their entire life, and passing this thinking and belief from generation to generation.

It’s the idea of ‘I’, or the ego, that needs to feel good about oneself, and wants other people to perceive oneself as good enough, and needs to attain or possess certain qualities of names and forms to be identifying with, that would make one feels good and proud of oneself and also would make other people feel good and proud of oneself, in order to be happy and live life meaningfully.

And all these qualities of names and forms are impermanent and there is no ‘I’ to be found in any of these names and forms, or to be in control of the impermanent changes, to be the way that ‘I’ like it to be. No matter how much influences we can influence the condition of the physical body and the state of the mind, to maintain the function and the life span of the body and the mind, the body and mind will still have to go through inevitable changes of decay, old age, discomfort, illness, weakness, ceased functioning, and decompose, or death.

Once the mind fully understood this, it will be free from the bondage of self-esteem and confidence. There’s no ‘I’ being good or not good enough. There’s neither high nor low self-esteem. There’s neither high nor low confidence.

One doesn’t need to be somebody with particular appearance, condition, ability or achievement, or have certain good and positive life experiences, or good relationships with anyone, in order to feel confident, happy, satisfied or meaningful.

One can have and appreciate all the attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship that is available in the present, but one doesn’t need other people’s attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship in order to feel confident, love, happy or meaningful. If all these qualities of names and forms are not available, one is still happy and peaceful as one is. One doesn’t feel lack of something or missing out anything, or one is not good enough to deserve love, happiness and meaningfulness.

And that’s real confidence. One doesn’t need to be confident or satisfied about oneself at all. One doesn’t need to feel proud of oneself, and doesn’t need other people to feel proud of oneself, to be ‘I’, or the good ‘I’, the successful ‘I’, the happy ‘I’, the meaningful ‘I’. One is happy and peaceful as one is, without any identification with any quality as ‘I’.

There is no thinking or identification of “I am a good and kind human being. I want to do good and be kind and be able to contribute towards humanity.” but goodness, kindness and contribution towards humanity are being manifested and performed through the body and mind out of wisdom and compassion.

If one doesn’t know this, one will always looking for or craving for attaining and possessing certain qualities of names and forms that one would like to relate oneself with, to be identifying with, to feel good and satisfied about oneself, to boost up one’s self-esteem and confidence to be who ‘I’ am, thinking that by attaining and possessing such qualities of names and forms will also make other people to give them the attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship that they want from other people, in order to be happy and feel meaningful. But then one is not free. And that’s one’s freedom of thinking and action.

Be free.

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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.

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.

Go beyond all the desirable and undesirable experiences

Go beyond all the desirable and undesirable experiences.

Free from clinging and craving towards desirable experiences.

Free from aversion towards undesirable experiences.

Just do one’s best, perform actions to attain the life that one would like it to be, that one thinks is best for oneself and/or for others, but allow the fruit of actions to be what it is.

The sense of meaninglessness, disappointment, dissatisfaction, non-accomplishment, low self-esteem, hopelessness, depression, loneliness or emptiness doesn’t present/arise/manifest/exist in such mind, even when there is the presence or existence of mind perception of names and forms that are not necessarily the way that the mind likes or wants it to be. There are effort or action being performed from moment to moment, making use of the life existence, the body, the senses, the mind perception, the knowledge, the talent, the skill, the opportunity, the condition, the situation, to be doing something for oneself and/or others, without attachment, identification, judgment, intention or expectation towards the effort or action and the fruit of the effort or action.

When there’s dissatisfaction, unhappiness, disappointment, anger, meaninglessness, or depression manifest in the mind upon the absence of desirable experiences, hoping for something to happen but it didn’t happen, or upon the presence of undesirable experiences, especially unpleasant experiences that involve other beings or people, that’s the moment of the yoga practice of letting go takes place. Do not feed those thoughts/feelings/emotions. They will pass away, eventually.

None needs to be responsible for other people/being’s ignorance. There’s no need to suffer for other people/being’s ignorant thinking, action and speech. There might be complicated condition or situation arise under the influence of other people’s ignorance, but one deals with those complication without resentment, as resentment won’t undo what had happened or make things better. Allowing the reality that the mind perceives in this present moment now to be what it is, as it is, that it’s not necessarily the way that the mind likes or wants it to be, and it’s okay. Need not be disturbed or determined by the reality that the mind doesn’t like and doesn’t want. Even when the perceived reality is the way that the mind likes or wants it to be, that is also impermanent. Appreciate and enjoy the desirable experiences without grasping or clinging onto the experiences that are desirable.

Once the mind is able to go beyond the desirable and undesirable experiences, there’s no suffering or painful sorrow can manifest in this mind, even though the mind has to go through undesirable or unpleasant experiences.

Strength, flexibility, wisdom and compassion in yoga is referring to the ability of letting go both desirable and undesirable experiences, or to let go or forgive something that the mind perceives or recognizes as bad, wrong, undeserving, painful, or hurtful.

Having a fit, healthy, strong and flexible physical body doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free. Performing yoga asana practice and other forms of yoga practice as well as teaching yoga for a prolonged period of time also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free. Having many people and things surrounding oneself and existing in one’s life also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free. Having a positive, satisfied and happy mind when everything is the way that the mind likes or wants it to be also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free. Taking drugs, substances or intoxication that will give momentary relief, good feelings and calmness to the mind also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free. Attaining some sorts of extraordinary superpower of clairvoyance also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free, as having the power of clairvoyance also can’t change the law of impermanence and selflessness.

But when things are not the way that the mind likes or wants it to be, when one is alone, when there’s no acknowledgement/agreement/support/companionship/interaction/encouragement from anyone or anything, when one receives all kinds of ill-treatment and experiencing physical or mental discomfort, pain, weakness or disability, under any difficult, challenging or crucial condition and situation, and the mind is still peaceful as it is due to the realization of selflessness, correct understanding/wisdom and unconditional love/compassion (without under the influence of the effect of drugs or substances or intoxication that is impermanent), then this mind is free.

It’s okay if the mind is not free, or not peaceful, or not okay. It’s okay if this freedom is not the freedom that people are looking for. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want and don’t want. For those who are in search for this freedom of yoga, they can try to practice yoga, if they want.

Misconception towards self-love or self-compassion

Self-love or self-compassion is related to being self-centered in yoga.

While self-centered is being referred as self-obsessiveness by certain worldly thinking and belief as pampering oneself with enjoyments and laziness and fulfilling all desires at any cost, even if it would cause harmful damages in oneself and others.

There’s nothing wrong if people want to be selfish and lazy, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life. It’s just that those who are selfish and lazy, but can’t help feeling guilty for being selfish and lazy, would feel better by justifying to themselves and others that they are practicing self-love or self-compassion.

In the teachings of yoga, being self-centered has nothing to do with self-obsessiveness/self-pampering/laziness. It’s about being centered in the truth of selflessness (the state that is void of selfishness or unselfishness), performing all duties and responsibilities without being influenced or determined by the action and the fruit of action, and being compassionate towards the suffering in one’s mind and others without being influenced, or disturbed, or determined by the suffering and the cause of suffering, which is ignorance and egoism, as well as all sort of impurities, thinking, belief, behavior, values and expectation that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism. It’s nothing to do with self-pampering with enjoyments and laziness and the fulfillment of all desires.

Self-compassion is being persevered and determined to free one’s mind from ignorance and the consequences of ignorance.

Being compassionate doesn’t mean that sacrificing oneself in pursue of helping others or making others to be happy. None can make another to be happy. When others are happy it’s because their desires of craving and aversion are being gratified by giving them what they like and want, and don’t give them what they don’t like and don’t want. It’s the ego thinking that ‘I’ am good and happy when ‘I’ can make others to be happy. It’s about doing one best performing action without forcing oneself beyond limitation and be able to let go without guilt or regret, if one couldn’t help as much as one would like to help. None can’t help those who enjoy being ignorant and swimming in the pool of suffering, who are reluctant to help themselves, but only complain about all sorts of dissatisfaction and expect sympathy and help from others to gratify all their desires of craving and aversion.

The thinking of “I am not good enough to help or make others to be happy, and thus, I am unable to be compassionate and I am unhappy because others are unhappy.” is due to the egoism of attachment, identification, judgment and expectation out of ignorance. It’s nothing to do with compassion.