Poor Lizard, Such Low Self-Esteem!

Poor Lizard, Such Low Self-Esteem!

maslowesteemThe fourth layer of Maslow’s hierarchy is Esteem. And even though this has next to nothing to do with actual survival, our lizard brain is active here, primarily in the fear of failure.

Most people are afraid of failing. Sometimes we’re so afraid of failing that we’re afraid of succeeding, because if we succeed, then we might fail!

This level, the esteem level, refers to respect, for ourselves and from others. Once we feel secure in our survival, in our homes, in our community, we crave respect. We want people to admire us. We want to admire ourselves.

The key to healthy self-esteem is a clear and honest view of yourself and your abilities. Do you know what you can and cannot do? And are you happy with your abilities?

When I became a mother, I had high hopes. I thought I would just fall in love with my baby, that we would have fun playing together and laughing together and all the hard times would be balanced by how delightful she was.


The problem is that I don’t like babies. I didn’t realize that my disinterest in babies would apply to my OWN child. I mean, I adored her, naturally. I thought she was beautiful and cute and sweet and hilarious. But babies are, at least to me, inherently boring. Caring for a baby involved existing in a state of total sleep deprivation, adhering to a 2 hour feeding schedule (which meant about 30 minutes of free time every 2 hours), handling dirty diapers, and somehow also being expected to continue interacting successfully with other adult humans! And on top of that, I had post partum depression.

As I worked my way through my post partum depression, I faced a harsh truth about myself: I am not made to be a stay at home mom. I was shocked. I thought I could be anything I set my mind to! But while I certainly could have been successful as a stay at home mom, it didn’t suit my gifts or talents or passions.

It was a blow to my self-image to realize that I didn’t want to be a certain kind of mother. But I adjusted. I learned. I recovered from my depression and built my life with this new understanding of myself. I am a work from home mom.

How do we defeat the Lizard at the Esteem Level?

With honesty. Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to make something work that simply won’t work for you. Accept who you are.

I am not a stay at home mom, and I am fortunate enough that I can choose something else. Instead of trying to change who I was, I accepted it with honesty and embraced my unique life.

I talk to my clients about what I call “Radical self-acceptance.” This is what I’m talking about. Being able to accept exactly who you are, flaws and strengths and all, without wanting to change any of it. I can’t change who I am. I can accept who I am, and then build on that acceptance. And so can you.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *