Don't Burst My Bubble

by Ellen Mareneck

When you prick your finger with a pin or other sharp object, you draw blood. When you prick a balloon with a pin, the whole thing explodes. "Pin-pricking" is a term I use for little comments made to burst someone's bubble, or to rain on their parade. Often these comments are masked as "support" by loved ones, "friends", and co-workers, who are envious of our success. When someone is happy or elated about an idea, a new love, or a new dress, a friend may express"concern." This takes the form of a negative comment meant to bring the person down. "Hasn't that already been done?" "Isn't that a little risky?" "Is he or she trustworthy?" "Isn't that dress a little short?" These seem to be innocent little comments. But they are actually dangerous and undercutting jabs.

BEWARE: these pin-pricks, are non-supportive little digs indicating that this friend, loved one, or co-worker, is really threatened by something about you. They may feel that you are getting too much attention, being popular, succeeding, standing out and otherwise shining and in the spotlight. The people in your life who like you when you're down in the gutter, may not like you as much as you begin to stand out in life.

Many of us grew up in families where pin-pricking was common. We are so accustomed to it, that we don't even notice the sting. We think of it as support, concern, "worrying", even caring. BEWARE: it is none of those things, it is a subtle form of criticism.

Many of us are unfamiliar with true support, in fact it confuses us. Has this ever happened to you? Do you become uncomfortable when someone compliments you or says, " You're great!" Do you start to think, "What do they want?" or "They must be an idiot"? Some of us are so familiar with being cut down and put down, that we come to expect it. We don't trust anyone who isn't taking a stab at us. In fact, someone who grows up with constant criticism becomes very good at pricking themselves. When you are feeling proud of an accomplishment or happy about something, do you ever feel like you should "take it down a notch" or "not get too big for your britches"? Do you ever feel that feeling great is actually dangerous? The subtle message of pin-prickers is: Don't be proud of yourself. Don't feel good about yourself, or something bad may happen.

I often say I have never encountered a situation yet where having a positive attitude can actually hurt. Yet many of us feel that by being positive, happy, proud, and excited we are in some way setting ourselves up for disappointment, doom, and disaster. This is the long-term effect of pin-pricking. While it may only be a tiny stab, to a child's developing sense of self a pin-prick can undermine their confidence and make them doubt and second-guess everything they do.

When you find yourself feeling good, standing out, and having a smile on your face, just remember: BEWARE the Pin Pricker!

Want to develop a thick skin made of pure self esteem? Try the Psybersquare Self-Esteem Workshop.

Need a quick pin-prick fix? Take a look at Ten Steps to Improved Self-Esteem.


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