Don't Be Special

I began my own personal therapy when I was 25 years old.  My self-esteem was pretty low and for so many years my therapist worked with me on empowerment and helping me tap into my own unique self and all the reasons that I was a special human being.  And, although my self-esteem improved and the therapy was helpful I now understand that what I really needed was to be given permission to NOT feel special.  

The act of feeling special creates a tremendous amount of anxiety - fear of rejection, fear of what others will think, fear of failure - all of these things stop people from acting in their own lives and can lead to isolation and depression.  

Stay with me because I know its very counter intuitive. It feels as if people would be less depressed and less anxious if they had higher self-esteem.   We have entire education programs based on building self-esteem and for years parents have been told their children need to feel special in this world.  The opposite is true. 

By letting go of the idea of being special and  (or the opposite some sort of dismal failure) people are free to focus on more mundane identities:  student, a partner, a friend, a creator.   The narrower and rarer the identity you choose for yourself, the more everything will seem to threaten you.  For that reason, define yourself in the simplest and most ordinary ways possible.  (Paraphrased from Mark Manson's THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F**K, p. 140).  There is much freedom and less terror in just being another ordinary "shmuck" just doing what you can on a daily basis.