To hear what this source wisdom is saying is one thing, to put it into practice is quite another. That is very bad news, because there's nothing we can do about the problem if it's not us. Sometimes owning up to our dissociated and denied self-experience obstructs how we need to see ourselves. For instance, Jerry was brutalized as a child, and rather than see himself as an abused person, he sees himself as someone who can take and deliver a punch. He won't allow himself to remember how unsafe and vulnerable he was; instead he sees himself as tough for overcoming early pain and difficulty. He needs to see himself this way; it's how he survived. Whatever it is that we're blocking can be serious. For people who've been traumatized, their off-putting behavior may be meant to thwart relationships that cause them to reexperience old pain and fear. Someone who was badly hurt in early life, like Jerry, can be triggered into highly self-protective behaviors by relationships that make them feel vulnerable. Is the risk of skin cancer worth the reward, or have we stopped caring because, like everything else, we have normalized having skin lesions removed? Some have suggested taxing tanning salons, but that's the Democrats' answer for everything: just tax it. Like cigarettes, sugary drinks, and, now, marijuana. Taxing means the government can't trust the people to quit their own bad habits. Stop the behavior and not only will we not need the additional taxes, but we will all be better off for it. Besides, we know a tax isn't a very good deterrent. Instead, we could require people to pay more up front for health insurance or doctor visits if they continue these behaviors that directly result in costly illness. Yet by refusing to do this, we are allowing the government to come in and force regulation on us. Perhaps we could try this: if you choose to use tanning beds you must sign a waiver that is uploaded into a centralized system.

You not only acknowledge the risk of artificial tanning, but you also release the government and your private insurance from any costs incurred for potential future skin cancer treatment. He knew that soil was a rich resource. Some of the biggest antibiotics of the twentieth century, from vancomycin to streptomycin, had come from soil samples. Soil scientists had known for decades, since the early 1930s, that bacteria in the soil are in a perpetual state of war with other members of the bacterial species. 1 Over millennia, bacteria have been making sophisticated antibiotics to kill their competition. How was it, he wondered, that soil bacteria, the resource for so many of our antibiotics, managed to survive? If only a small group of bacteria produce these heavy-duty antibacterial drugs, they should be the only ones surviving. How can any other bacterial species that did not have the ability to make the antibiotics ever survive? In 2006, a study at Wright's lab in Ontario showed something quite shocking. 2 Wright had been sampling soil from all across Ontario, to study various kinds of bacteria and their naturally existing defense mechanisms. His team found that most of the bacteria in the soil close to his lab were resistant to most of the frontline antibiotics. Next, some researchers have done exciting empirical work connecting this type and level of self- esteem with the quality of authenticity and well-being in general. connection is especially important because authenticity also is a well- established concept in existential philosophy and humanistic psychology that involves several healthy human characteristics related to self- esteem. They include higher degrees of self- awareness, a greater sense of self- acceptance, and increased genuineness with others, all of which are helpful in making good (healthy or growth oriented) life choices. the field of positive psychology indicates that authenticity is among the basic human virtues associated with well- being. Michael Kernis (2003) has probably done more scientific research than anyone else on the connections between authenticity, self- esteem, and well- being as part of his work on what he cal s optimal self- esteem. Basically, he found that this highest form of self- esteem is characterized by four main qualities: (a) being secure enough to perceive and admit to personal faults and limitations; (b) being consistent in one's behavior toward self and others in that one's actions are characterized by a low level of defensiveness; (c) being genuine because such individuals do not require continual validation of worthiness from others or endless successes to sustain a sense of identity; and (d) being stable, which comes from being balanced enough to be open to taking the risks necessary to grow and expand the self more than focusing on self- protection.

One way to think about an authentic sense of self- esteem, then, is to imagine a person who is generally secure, usually consistent, frequently genuine, and reliably stable in the way he or she deals with self, others, and the challenges of living. There is no change without practicing. By practicing we transform. Practice is like exercising a muscle; it increases in strength with appropriate training. We become good at whatever we practice. In fact, we are practicing all the time, we are always practicing something: a thought, a feeling, a word, an action. The question is: What are we practicing? If we practice thinking the same things, feeling the same things and doing the same things, then we can expect to get the same outcomes and experiences. When we consciously choose to try something new to increase our awareness and improve our well-being, we can be sure that our experience will change. All the practices in this article, if tried conscientiously, will lead to change and to the establishment of Conscious Confidence. In fact, in Jerry's last relationship, when he started to feel safe enough to open up, he saw his partner as weak and left her. He had identified in her what he most deeply feared and could not accept in himself. In the earliest stages of development, the mind categorizes things that we depend on, from food to caretakers, as being all good or all bad. It's a primitive way to manage anxiety and aggression; splitting objects into either/or boxes provides a basic sense of where bad stuff comes from and allows us to believe that bad things in the world (and ourselves) can be contained. The all-good/all-bad lens is called the paranoid-schizoid position. 9 In this state the split between all-good and all-bad is so extreme, we quite literally experience things--say, Dad--as good objects in one instance, bad objects in another. It feels like Dad is two totally separate beings, since his bad side is so intolerable to us. We have the rationale we need then to be a Clot.

A significant developmental step occurs when you experience the same person--a key caregiver like a mother, for instance--as no longer all bad or all good, but rather a modicum of both. Instead, the cost of your resultant illness will be on you. Furthermore, physicians are released from their mandate to treat your condition if you are unable to pay them. Imagine how well that scenario would be received. Something tells me this drastic measure may be more of a deterrent than a nominal tax. If we continue to expect the government to pay for everything--and we continue to tax everything--then we're going to move away from what America was built on. We'll have a federal government that's obsessed with overregulation and a population that goes along with it. As a physician, it's hard for me to make this distinction. On one hand, I want to tell the government to get rid of cigarettes, soda, and tanning beds, for starters. I have no idea why we have them in the first place given the fact that they have zero health benefits and loads of negative effects. On the other hand, I am proud that as Americans we have freedom of choice. These bacteria survived because the antibacterial arsenals of other bacteria had no effect on them. The antibiotics just bounced off, as if hitting a high and impenetrable wall. In addition, these resistant bacteria did not cause disease. They were, for all intents and purposes, just minding their own business in the soil. What Wright and his team had apparently shown was that some bacteria that don't produce antibiotics also have a mechanism to protect themselves from attacks by their fellow, antibiotic-producing bacteria. In other words, bacteria that were nonproducers of antibiotics had developed sophisticated resistance mechanisms. This is like a country that has a strong military but little interest in attacking or ability to attack its neighbors. The paper generated excitement about a new discovery but also met stiff criticism. scientists questioned Wright and his team's conclusion that the bacteria had developed resistance on their own.

Maybe the bacteria were resistant due to excessive human intervention, perhaps through the dumping of antibiotics into the environment. Who would shun such positive qualities and their implications for well- being? It is helpful to understand at least one more thing about types and levels of self-esteem. Just as with many other things in life, such as personality characteristics, very few people are pure types. After al , even those with authentic self- esteem cannot be authentic all of the time. Thus, when thinking about any particular person's self- esteem, it is important to realize that there is plenty of individual var-iability to consider. Why that occurs will be discussed in article 3 while examining the development of self- esteem. M's profile might take this form because it depicts a genuine problem with moderately low self- esteem as competence and worthiness are lacking in that quadrant, something that is very consistent with the diagnosis of depression along with some anxiety. However, it is important to note that she also possesses a meaningful degree of medium self- esteem, which means that it should be possible to help her move toward more authentic self- esteem at some point in the treatment process. Finally, although most articles on self- esteem focus only on the possibility of increasing it, the fact of the matter is that if self- esteem can change in a positive way, it only stands to reason that we can lose self- esteem in life as wel . I explore these two themes throughout the article, but for now it is important to emphasize how competence and worthiness work together to create authentic self- esteem. You will find three levels of practices to use: starter, intermediate, and advanced. You might start simply with one practice at a level that feels comfortable for you. The important thing is to start practicing each day. The practices are aimed at providing you with plenty of choices for how you can apply this knowledge directly in your daily life. You won't know if it works until you experience it. Just select one of the practices that piques your curiosity. Try it for a day or a week. There are three time factors to practicing, all of which are necessary. They are: Frequency, Duration and Extent.