I began my life as a loser. Well, actually not a loser because no one is a loser, but they just think and act as if they were one. Although my childhood was a fairly normal one in a very ordinary, loving and hardworking middle class home, from my earliest recollections of my experiences with other people, I pretty much felt like the odd ball out. Being one of the original 98 pound weaklings at a time when gym class and team sports defined a boy, set my thinking up for poor self-esteem. It didn’t help that my very loving Mother didn’t understand that statements like, “self praise stinks!” and “What happened to the other 4 points” (after getting a 96 on a test) were a setup for low self-esteem.
At a fairly early age, my parents sent my brother and I to summer sleepaway camp in the mountains of Pennsylvania. For the most part, I had a good time although my most frequent recollection was being teased about having big ears, especially by one fellow camper. Because most of summer camp activities were team ones and I was already not feeling like I could win in that arena, I started on a pattern of coping that lasted through a goodly portion of my early life.
I found activities where I could be the assistant to the adults of the camp. I worked as the assistant to the guy who ran the canteen, became a stable boy and then a junior counselor as I got older. All these positions were ones where I could thrive without competing and as a junior counselor, be in charge of those I did not think I could win over as a peer.
In high school, I became the captain of the student monitors, the hall cops and the student director of the school plays. Although I was not aware of my motivations for gravitating to such positions of power, it is quite apparent now that I was terrified to compete with my peers. And on and on, in college I was the house manager in a fraternity and the behinds the scene person in student government.
The interesting facet of all of this is that my self-confidence regarding my ability to perform all these activities was ever increasing though I never could take the win. By the time I graduated from college, my self-confidence was acceptable enough to become and Air Force officer and lead a multi-million dollar fuels management organization with many personnel under my command. In most of those positions, though, my inner feeling felt like I was a fraud, that somehow I was able to fool these people into letting me do these things.
It wasn’t until I was out of the military and back in Cornell University for a master’s in counseling psychology did I start working on my inner game to increase my self-esteem. Through a somewhat painful process of trial and error, I eventually learned how to like myself. Today, I can look my reflection in the mirror and say and totally believe, “Nice guy!” I truly love me, as is.
This is why I am uniquely qualified to guide others through this process of enhancing their self-esteem. Not only have I walked the walk but I also have developed the tools to make that walk a lot shorter and less painful for my clients.
Well that is the how come I do this work. If you really want to read about my long professional life and some of the interesting, and sometimes off the wall, things that I have done in my life, you can click here.