Monday, February 6, 2012

The Four Cornerstones of Self

I mentioned a while back that I’m reading a book Therapist recommended me called The Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson (review to come soon).

It talks about the 5 stages of abandonment grief: Shattering, Withdrawal, Internalizing the Rejection, Rage, and Lifting.

In stage 3 Internalizing the Rejection she asks you to keep in mind The Four Cornerstones of Self. These are those basic inalienable aspects of what it means to be a human being. No matter what happens in your life nothing can diminish these things. “These are invincible principles of self that no one can take form you.”

The Four Cornerstones of Self

  1.  Facing, accepting, and ultimately celebrating your separateness as a person. We are, each  of us, a wholly separate human being, whether we are in a relationship or have just ended one. We enter the world and depart from it on our own.
  2. Celebrating the importance of your own existence. You are not more or less important than anyone else. Every person’s existence is important, and it is up to you to value and respect your own. Regardless of your age, attributes, or physical capacities, each person’s existence is important. Life is a fleeting, precious gift that must be realized in the moment.
  3. Facing and accepting your reality. No matter how difficult things may be for you at this moment, it is the only reality you have. Remember that it is always changing and that you are the force that moves it forward. You may not have chosen the challenges you now face, and chances are you are not to blame for the things that have gone wrong. But the situation is yours to deal with. You can choose to rail against it, or you can make the best of it. The responsibility for owning it and c hanging it belongs to you.
  4. Enhancing your capacity to love. I believe that most people use only about 5 percent of their capacity to love. Love is one of the most compelling powers we possess as human beings. You cannot control the love of another, but you can increase your own capacity to give and receive love and all the benefits that flow from it.

You, as a person, have worth and value independent of anyone else in your life. You need to value you. This is something I struggle with often. I’ve had a lifetime of being not good enough. Says who? Why does anyone else get to tell me what I should be striving for in my life? It’s my life. I get to choose what goals I want to reach and how I get there. No one else has the right to define my value as a person.

I also like this because it reminds you that you are responsible for your own life. So often we get caught up in blaming. If he hadn’t done this, that wouldn’t have happened. If she had only listened I wouldn’t have to feel this way. It’s not my fault this happened. And so on. All of that may be true, but the simple fact of reality is that these things happened. Understanding where the problem originated is helpful so that you can avoid that situation in the future. Blaming, passing the buck, and refusing responsibility for yourself only  mires you in the past. Stuck. Ultimately you control your own life and the choices that propel you into the future. You must decide for yourself where you go from there. No one else is going to take responsibility for your life, for you. You must do that. No matter how you got to the place you are in, you get to choose where you will go next.

2 and 3 are conclusions I came to a long time ago and have very much embraced on this road to healing from my mental health issues. I still struggle with accepting myself, but I’m getting there. And if I’m really honest I have to admit that love still scares me. I have a lot to work on there. I can give love. I can give of myself to others, but I’m afraid to receive love because I’m afraid that it will be taken away. I’d rather not have love in the first place than have to mourn the loss of it. All love is a gift though. Not all love leaves. If it does though, that simply leaves room for new love to come in. 


  1. Your blog is so helpful. This is a perfect entry for today, thank you.

    Thanks to you I really understand a lot more about myself. You putting yourself out there as a mirror for others is so valued. I think its funny how we are able to value the contributions of others, but we are blind to our own. I cannot speak to the other facets of your life, but you are a helpful voice in the darkness. Thank you.

    Thanks to your blog Ive gotten to understand the effects of my issues with object constancy. I never understood that until very recently and I owe it to you. It is making me rethink myself a lot when I start obsessing over my friend. Now I understand why. Because I really dont feel connected unless I am literally connected. It never made sense, even on an intellectual level. I didnt have the words. It is not his problem, it is mine. Something I have to be mindful of.

    1. Thanks Sarah.

      It can be pretty difficult opening myself up like this, because I do get some pretty harsh criticisms. I think it's worth it though. It helps me understand myself, which means I have just that much more control over my own self in order to work through this stuff. And like you've said, what I go through seems to occur with a lot of other people. If I can take what I'm going through and help someone else with it, I think it's worth the criticism I get as well.

      I'm happy that what I share is helpful to you. It really does make doing this just that much more worth it to me.

  2. Haven, it is inconceivable to me that anyone would criticize you for your willingness to bare your soul so that others might have understanding of something that is so difficult to understand even those who have it struggle to sort out their behaviors. I say screw anyone who dares to criticize you. This blog improves lives.

    1. That means a lot to me that you think so.

      I've been called selfish for focusing on myself and not on how my behavior has effected others. Often times Nons who have been hurt by the Borderlines in their lives will comment on something I've written and project the hurt from their actual relationship onto what I'm describing and criticize my objectivity and interpretations of things. Admittedly I'm sure I have some blind spots in regards to myself still. No one is perfect, but I try to be as honest with myself as I possibly can be.

  3. Why blame others in the situation you outlined? To me it just seems like people are blowing off emotions while doing that. I humor it, but I can't say I've ever related to it. I've blamed others to get tangible benefits from doing so, but that's the extent of my other blaming. I tend to look toward what's next and accept what I can not change.

    Is this blog part of working with your therapist, or is it something you do on your own?

    1. Blowing off emotional steam*

      or something like that is what I meant to type

    2. ::smiles: MHM your brain works a little differently than mine haha.

      This blog is entirely my own idea and sort of personal therapy. Therapist knows I run it, but this is a space for me to work things out on my own independent of therapy.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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