A friend in need

Joey Garcia

What is the best way to help a friend with low self-esteem? She is always down on herself. She thinks she is ugly (she’s not) and that no one likes her. We’ve been best friends since freshman year (we’re in high school), but sometimes she even thinks I don’t like her. Helping her feel better is frustrating because it doesn’t help for very long. Her parents don’t seem to notice even though she is insecure around them, too. Do you have suggestions for how I can help her?

Nothing you do will ever be enough, honey. Your best friend struggles with an emptiness that can only be filled by an abiding spiritual connection and self-respect. Sometimes crippling insecurities root after relentless criticism or shaming, especially from people we respect, like parents or other adults entrusted with our care. Other times, insecurity results from one incident that the mind regurgitates, and by doing so, inflates the story until it seems to define us. Discovering that we are more than a string of unhappy life experiences takes professional guidance. Your best friend needs a psychologist to help her unpack her pain. Your love and support is wonderful, but she needs much more you can offer. Ask a counselor at school to get to the bottom of your best friend’s problem, and keep asking until your friend gets the help she needs.

How can I stop worrying and second-guessing myself about everything? I am making myself, and my wife, miserable.

Many of us worry over choices, and then second-guess our decisions in order to avoid making a mistake. It’s much easier to accept that mistakes happen and to trust that we have the capability and competence to manage, obliterate or transmute those problems. After all, worries are just a collection of obsessive thoughts. The practice of worrying is not related to crafting or instituting solutions. Worrying actually invites us to postpone taking action, and that feeds our anxiety. Worry and inaction followed by a decision, and then a repetitive, fear-laced re-evaluation of that decision, wastes time and energy. That’s partly why you and your wife are miserable. It helps to challenge the thoughts that keep us small and scared. Meditate on expanding your personal power until you are as big as, or bigger than the problem. When you do, you’ll realize that the crisis you face can be an opportunity to engage skills and enhance life.

I told my mom what I wanted to major in for college, but she said to pick a major that the world needs. What should I do? My parents are paying for college, so I feel like I have to do what they want. Please help.

Your parents are financing your bachelors’ degree, but if you buckle to their expectations, you’ll be paying with your life. Stand up for yourself by schooling your parents about the value of your dreams. A solid university education contributes to the formation of the whole person; it isn’t just career prep. Besides, who knows what the world will need by the time you graduate? You might just be ahead of the curve. If not, at least you will have studied something you’re passionate about.

Meditation of the week
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings,” wrote William Arthur Ward. How many thanksgivings have you celebrated this year?

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