Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reflecting on self-esteem

Lately I've been running across that "self-esteem" graphic depicting a cute little kitten gazing at itself in a mirror and beholding the face of a lion. You probably know the one I mean. I've seen this pic on various blog posts, web sites, and discussion forums, and in those emails that well-meaning friends forward to you and everyone else they've ever known or might possibly know at some undetermined time in the future. The caption on the graphic reads, "What matters most is how you see yourself." These days it is nearly as omnipresent as that poster of the cute little kitten hanging precariously from a tree limb, with the caption, "Hang In There!" That one is supposed to serve as encouragement for people who are having hard times. Depending upon the problem, if I were having hard times I'd much prefer money or some Xanax to a picture of a cute little kitty in a tree, but that's just me.

As for the self-esteem poster, I have a few problems with this whole kitten-and-lion thing. To begin with, it clearly implies that the lion is somehow superior to felis domesticus. Don't you dare try suggesting anything like that to the lap lions who live in my household. They may be smaller in stature than a lion, and lacking in a mane, and they may not be able to scarf down an entire gazelle in one sitting, but they are a lot more useful and, I imagine, considerably less messy than felis leo. Not only are they experts in stalking, catching, and killing those rat-sized roaches we have here in the semi-tropics – a feat which a lion would probably think was beneath its dignity – but let's face it: a lion would require an awfully large litter box. And I have enough trouble keeping the little litter boxes clean, despite the fact that I have told all of y'all about my problem and have asked you repeatedly to do some Ho'oponopono cleaning on the problem. Not that I'm getting after you or anything. I'm just saying.

Second of all, the poster does not depict a very desirable scenario.
Think about it. Most cats already have an inflated sense of self-worth without seeing themselves as lions. No matter how much you adore your own cats (and I dearly love mine), you know I'm right. Can you imagine how intolerable they'd be if they literally thought they were big cats?

Third of all, the whole scenario
isn't even very realistic. Your average itty-bitty kitty would almost certainly turn tail and run to the nearest closet if it happened to be looking in a mirror and a big lion-face suddenly appeared.

So forgive me if I am a bit less than inspired by the picture of Fluffy and the King of Beasts. I can identify with the staring-in-the-mirror part of the message, but that's about it for me.

However, I am not going to leave you uninspired. My good friend Dr. Lar Jeego,* Guerrilla Motivator®, bestselling author, bad poet, and holder of way too many phony university degrees to list here, has created a poster that I found much more inspirational, and that he has kindly given me permission to share with you.

Dr. Lar is the founder of the famous Self-Esteem Boot Camp®, in which people are forced at gunpoint to love themselves. This is part of a technique he invented called Tough Self-Love. Some may feel his methods are rather harsh, but the many thousands of participants in the Boot Camps have found the experience to be life-changing, and only fatal for a very few. Dr. Lar uses such extreme measures, along with traditional means such as talk therapy, role playing, and, of course, mirror work, because he believes that self-esteem is the most important quality we can cultivate. It makes up for a host of other shortcomings, such as lack of intelligence, lack of character, laziness, sociopathy, psychosis, poor hygiene, etc.

Along with the inspiring illustration on his poster, Dr. Lar has thoughtfully included one of his many bad poems. Click on the graphic and you'll get the large version, which is suitable for a wallpaper. It has also been specially infused with powerful properties, so it will "clean" you as you look at it.

But it sure hasn't done much for my litter boxes.

* Whom I just made up

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you severely over analyzed this cat/lion poster. I realize you did it for the sake of humor but to me you just sound, well, stupid. You made it sound as if the poster was trying to cause harm when it really is supposed to be a positive message about having a healthy self image. Where's the harm in that?

Sunday, September 02, 2007 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for your comments, Anon. I think you are severely over-analyzing my post. And that makes you sound, well, like a JoeBot or something. I never said or implied that the poster was "trying" to cause harm. Heck, it's just a poster, an inaminate object, which would rule out the idea that it has intentions of any sort. Oh, wait, I guess if chairs can have intentions and feelings, then posters can too. My mistake.

But seriously now -- there's no intrinsic harm in encouraging self-esteem. Even a stupid-sounding person like yours truly realizes that. But there's sometimes a fine line between self-esteem and self-delusion, a point I think it would benefit many folks to remember. Another point worth remembering (and discussed at length in Steve Salerno's book SHAM) is that when schools (to use one example) emphasize self-esteem at the expense of true academic excellence, nobody benefits.

So, yes, there was a sort of serious message behind my post, or perhaps more than one serious message, but my disdain for that over-used cat and lion image was almost beside the point.

Monday, September 03, 2007 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Addendum to my previous comment... Perhaps the most important point of all was implied in my own little poster: A healthy self-esteem or self-image is no substitute for integrity. We've seen that truth demonstrated again and again in the selfish-help industry.

Monday, September 03, 2007 10:26:00 AM  

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