Dr. Alasko's weekly newspaper column for the Monterey Herald — "On Relationships" — now in its fourteenth year.
Even if he tried to relate to a woman, it wouldn't work out. So he chills with a beer to assuage the anxiety of loneliness. Justin's habits and beliefs work together, in one immoveable package, to tie him up.
Everyone's personality is composed of a complex interlocking system of beliefs, beginning with the Mother of them all: self-esteem. How you think about yourself, whether you see yourself as valuable, competent, attractive, diligent, intelligent, etc. is only partly connected to actual reality. Most of your self-esteem is what you make up about yourself and BELIEVE TO BE TRUE.
In fact, it might not be. The most classic example is Marilyn Monroe, who believed herself to be unattractive.
Most of us have known someone who acts with assurance regardless of their "factual" attractiveness. These people act confidently because their internal belief system tells them they are competent and therefore attractive.
On the individual level, real change can happen only when you recognize that it's your responsibility to feel, think and act differently. The same is true for the wider society. The reason it's so difficult to make meaningful social or political change is because a large bloc of people believe it's neither possible nor desirable. For instance, a common belief is that "government's the problem." Well, that belief blocks just about all progress.
And it blocks all progress for individuals too, until we simply decide, “I'm going to initiate a new set of beliefs.”
Carl Alasko, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is the author of Emotional BS and Beyond Blame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org