One of the books I’m reading right now — The Undervalued Self by Dr. Elaine Aron — is so good for me, I hate it. I’ve just read the chapter on the 6 self-protection mechanisms we use to protect our undervalued self and I was forced to reflect on how before even picking up the book I had told myself ‘there probably won’t be anything super-useful to me in this book — I’ve got pretty solid self-esteem at this point.’ How ironic.
One the first exercises is to create a list of the people who make you feel good and the people who make you feel bad — well, perhaps ‘make’ is the wrong word, but people around whom you feel good and people around whom you feel bad. The basic premise is that the good feelings are due to ‘linking’ (e.g. bonding, loving, supporting, caring, etc.) and the bad ones, to ‘ranking’ (i.e. feeling judged or a sense of competition, etc.) Then, you’re supposed to think about which relationships actually involve some of both linking and ranking, and which might use ranking in order to link (e.g. a mentor-mentee relationship) or linking in order to rank (e.g. making friends with someone higher up at your company in order to hopefully boost your own real or perceived rank).
Anyway, that was a useful exercise, although it did remind me of several relationships that ended badly and of several more that have more ranking than linking going on … I do recommend the analysis for clarity, though! I have a better of idea of which relationships to cherish more, which to scale back on / eliminate, and which to try to shift from less ranking to more linking. Wish me success.
Now, as for the self-protection mechanisms, get ready for it. Ouch! The list is: