Self-Esteem

As mentioned in my previous post titled “Discernment and Judgment,” people with OCPD can be quite judgmental when their gift for discernment is poisoned by all-or-nothing thinking. Their judgments can be so damaging that those who listen to them on a frequent basis are often left with their identity confused and self-esteem lowered.

People who are on the receiving end of frequent OCPD judgments should discount all all-or-nothing attacks made against their identity in order to preserve their own self-esteem.

A common story that I hear again and again is that of people coming out of a relationship with an OCPD partner more broken than they were before. This unfortunate outcome is most likely due to having listened to the all-or-nothing judgments of people with OCPD for far too long.

Those closest to people with OCPD must be vigilant in critically analyzing their judgments. No matter how true they might sound, recipients of their judgments need to recognize that OCPD judgments are in fact inaccurate because of their all-or-nothing thinking. Simply put, do not listen to any negative judgments from a person with OCPD.

When people with OCPD are attacked by their own judgments, most of them defend themselves in a very harmful way. Instead of saying to themselves, “No, I am not a failure! Look at who I am,” most will say, “No, I am not a failure! Look at what I have done!”

Many people with OCPD fall for this trap because they often do have an impressive portfolio of excellent work. Their performance then becomes the foundation on which they build their worth. When they perform excellently, they feel good about themselves; when they perform poorly, they feel bad about themselves. People with OCPD who repeatedly experience these ups and downs can then fall deeply into performance addiction.

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OCPD):
Stop judging others. Even when others fail to meet your standards, stop yourself from making judgments about them in your mind. Challenge yourself to think more in the middle.

HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OTHERS):
Stop listening to the judgments of your OCPD friend. Try to understand that his or her anxiety causes him or her to think in extremes. Be patient and encourage your OCPD friend to think more in the middle.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR SELF-ESTEEM (OCPD):
Stop listening to yourself. Until you have eliminated your all-or-nothing thinking, your mind is actually quite unreliable and your judgments are flawed. When you defend yourself from attacks that are made against your identity, do not be tempted to focus on what you have done. Instead, focus on who you are. If there is too much hurt, fear, and lies that are hindering you from getting in touch with who you really are, read “The Gift Unwrapped,” my best attempt at summarizing the true identity of our kind.

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6 thoughts on “Self-Esteem

  1. Leah says:

    Your description matches perfectly my experience with a man whom I love dearly and who I realized only after his death must have struggled with OCPD.

    He was the most loving person I’ve ever met, yet his tendency to focus on and become overwhelmed by a negative perception he had of me caused him to be unfairly and overly critical at times. I challenged his views and gradually learned not to feel so hurt by them by realizing I should not take his sweeping criticisms personally. I began to see that they had more to do with him than me.

    Below is an excerpt of an e-mail that I wrote to my loved one where I addressed my concern that he was unfairly judgmental, even before I realized his personality tendencies matched OCPD:

    “The underlying issue that bothers me is that you act sometimes as if things were black or white and you seem to allow no gray. Also, you often seem to assume that you are right and I am wrong, rather than see how I may be right or at least am making valid points.

    “Finally, when we have a disagreement over some topic we are debating, you sometimes turn it into personal attacks, such as when you talked about how foolish you felt I looked when I was criticizing a famous philosopher’s (Aristotle’s) thought processes to show that illogical thoughts do not mean a person is stupid overall. You seem to become judgmental of me in an emotional way.

    “I felt hurt that you said I look foolish or am foolish, since I want you to think well of me, ideally always! :) I don’t want my ego stroked, but I also don’t want my ego unfairly bashed, either.

    “I mostly just want you to understand my perspective. I don’t want you to feel that the issues and feelings I describe here overshadow everything else that we share that I feel is good for us both: the humor, the daily presence, the presents, the patience, the feeling of being deeply affected by someone else. You matter so very much to me that I can’t just dismiss any interaction between us. I am affected by them all.”

    Thank you very much for your blog. I read every entry because I cherish your insights into OCPD. They help me better understand the wonderful, complicated individual whom I loved and adored and miss, and who loved and adored me.

    • Daniel Kim says:

      Wow. Your e-mail excerpt is beautiful! He was a very lucky OCPDer to have someone like you. I wish more people would communicate like this. Thank you for enjoying my blog :)

  2. Nick says:

    My second wife was a clear OCPDer. She kept knocking how I raised my kids (deficiently in her distorted eyes), how I didn’t observe everything around me (and was “clueless”), about my personal hygiene because she was super sensitive to everything, my singing, the speed of my prayers. I remember that my self-esteem took a blow from living with an “abusive”, constantly critical, spouse and with the impossibilty of blending our kids into a combined family when my ex-wife was not working with me, but was actually undermining whatever positive steps we had accomplished. While my ex-wife thought she (and her kids) were “perfect” — and she was judgmental of the whole world — nothing could be further from the truth. She had a low self-esteem and cancelled family therapy sessions when the children (hers or mine) complained about her or criticized something she did. Daniel, the OCPD person seems to project an aura of superiority and the vanity of knowing better than the “common folk” about matters of importance and knocks everyone else’s self-esteem, yet I found that my Ex was terribly insecure inside and was constantly worried about her next “mistake” in many areas of her life.

    • Daniel Kim says:

      This is true. So many people with OCPD are very insecure because they have been in an abusive relationship with themselves for so long. I too once used to be very insecure.

  3. God damn it! I find that the best cure for this shit is rejection. Put up boundaries, stop torturing yourselves with the bullshit the OCPDer is slinging. Most likely, he or she enjoys putting your self-esteem down. Most likely, it is because he or she thinks that then you both can start from the low point that he or she is. This person needs to learn that the world will not fix him, that this he has to do for himself. This worked for me. Now I have an inner sense of motivation not to be rejected by people and excel. As long as you allow this person to be who or she is, then what is the motivation for change?

  4. Geoffrey says:

    I think a lot of what other people take to be judgment is actually just an attempt to be kind. We feel like we can save them time or money, or help them make “better” decisions in the future, or allow them to act “morally”.

    It comes across as “here is why the decisions you are making are bad” but it’s really just “I believe that you will be better off if you follow this procedure next time”
    Perhaps because these are the kinds of things that we want people to say to us, we don’t really understand the anger that they often inspire.

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