In the second article of this five-part series on Family Wellness, Tasneem Kagalwalla shares this easy tried-and-tested tool on uplifting self-worth that will also improve your family welfare quotient.
How it Works
We often find it difficult to express our feelings.
Talking about how we feel, for example, guilty, shameful or useless makes us uncomfortable.
A wife would hesitate to tell her husband that she feels inadequate, depressed or worthless. A mother may dither to let her son know that she feels unwanted, unloved or unimportant. Or the eldest and most mature teenager may find it difficult to let his family know that he felt like he did not matter, or that he had always felt he was no good. Perhaps he felt he had to take what was handed to him and not complain.
So how do you share these uncomfortable feelings with your loved ones?!
You simply talk in “pot” terms!
(Typically; a pot is used to cook different dishes and often you may have someone from the family ask you, “What’s cooking?!” Similarly when used to describe individual feelings, this simple shorthand word helps families express feelings that have been difficult to talk about before.)
For example, a father might say with a big smile, “My pot is high today,” and the rest of the family would know that he felt on top of things, full of energy and good spirits, secure in the knowledge that he really mattered. Or a daughter might say, “I feel low pot.” This would tell everyone that she felt bruised or not particularly lovable.
Pot is a plain word and in this use, almost a nonsense word. Yet, families seem to find it easier to express themselves and understand others in “pot” terms. So, pot is just another word you’d use to express your self-worth or self-esteem at any given moment.
Why it Works
Research by expert therapists and the day-to-day experiences of my professional and personal life, lead us to one conclusion.
The crucial factor in what happens both inside people and between people is the picture of individual worth that each person carries around with him – his pot.
Integrity, honesty, responsibility, compassion, love – all flow easily from the person whose pot is high. He feels that he matters, that the world is a better place because he is in it. Appreciating his own worth, he is ready to see and respect the worth of others. Sure he experiences disappointments, but he treats these temporary low-pot feelings just as they are – a crisis of the moment from which he can emerge whole. It is something he can feel uncomfortable about but does not have to hide.
Other people, however, spend most of their lives in a low-pot condition. Because they feel they have little worth, they expect to be cheated and stepped on by others. Expecting the worst, they invite it and usually receive it. To defend themselves, they often hide behind a wall and slowly sink into a terrible state of loneliness and isolation.
It is important to understand the difference between feeling low and low pot.
Low pot essentially means that you are experiencing undesirable feelings at the moment and are trying to behave like those feelings do not exist. It takes a lot of trust to share low self-esteem feelings. Not acknowledging and not sharing your low pot is a form of deceit – lying to both yourself and others.
Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.
The family is where it is learned. And it can be unlearned and something new can be learned in its place. Every word, facial expression, gesture, and action gives a message about one’s worth.
Relax for a moment, by yourself and with the rest of your family. Feel the state of your pot today. Is it high or low? Has something happened to give you this feeling, or do you feel this way most of the time?
Tell one another your feelings.
Compare the things that make you feel low pot or high pot. You may find new dimensions to the people you live with and how you can inspire and influence more high pot feelings for each other.
As a result you grow closer and stronger as a family unit.
So, what kind of self-worth is your family building?!
Credit: Based on the research of famous American author and renowned family therapist, Virginia Satir.