The “I am lovable and capable” (IALAC) story below shows how we influence each other’s self-esteem. The idea is that each of us wears an IALAC sign. It is our self-esteem and it is worn on the inside. During the course of a day, people may say things to us and do things to us that tend to crumple or rip our IALAC.
Some people feel and act pretty lovable but not so capable, or quite capable but not so lovable. Actually, no one is all one way or the other. We all feel lovable or capable in some areas and situations, but not so lovable or capable in others.
How we get along in life is in large part determined by how people have treated (or treat) our IALAC sign. As we get older, we can learn to be less vulnerable to being so influenced by what people say and do to us. We can process circumstances differently and make better sense out of them. But most of us are still somewhat vulnerable, no matter how independent we may be. The area of “self-concept” and “self-esteem” can be related to the notion of the IALAC sign we all wear.
As you read the story and statements below, image that your IALAC sign is visible for all to see. After each negative statement below, picture the portion of your sign that corresponds with each letter torn off and thrown down – or at least seriously crumpled.
The story to consider:
The letters IALAC on my sign stands for “I Am Loveable And Capable” (IALAC) – representing what each of us is in various areas of our life. Some call it “self-concept” or “self-esteem.” However, as we go through life, situations and even comments from people around us can damage our IALAC, making us think that we are not so lovable and capable. Here’s a short story about a day in the life of a boy we’ll call “Timmy.” Listen to what the people around him say as he moves through his day:
Big brother, early in the morning:
I Your room is always a mess! You can’t keep anything clean, can you?!!
Mom, at the breakfast table:
A You spilled your milk again! Why do you always ruin our breakfast?!!
L I told the class to use red, yellow, and green crayons, not black! Can’t you do anything right?!!
On the playground:
A Hey, dummy! We never pick you for our ball team ‘cause you can’t hit… and you throw like a sissy!!
C I’ve had a tough day, so don’t bother me about yours! Get the dog fed (you can do that, can’t you?) and get your pigpen of a room cleaned up (as if you really ever could!)
A longer version of the story is online at: http://thinklaughlearn.com/blog/2013/05/the-ialac-story.html
Now it’s time for you to process the IALAC story – and your own story:
What caused Timmy’s IALAC sign to be ripped up or crumpled?
Does every negative comment someone says to us or about us, have to damage our self-esteem? If not, why not?
Even if our IALAC sign, our self-esteem, gets damaged one day, does that mean that it has to be ripped up and damaged the next day?
What might we do to keep our IALAC sign, our self-esteem, from being ripped up or crumpled as we journey through life?
What might we do to help build up or repair the IALAC of the people around us – to help build up the self-esteem of others?
How can this story and reflective activity help me with life?
First, it can make you stronger. If you used a marker to fill a sheet of paper with the letters IALAC, the paper would be too flimsy to stand upright if you held it by the bottom. But, if crumpled it letter by letter as you considered “Timmy’s” rough day, then unfolded and smoothed out some of the wrinkles (like starting over on a new day), you would find that the wrinkled paper would actually exhibit some rigidity that it didn’t have when it was new, flat and unwrinkled. Adversities overcome can often make us stronger.
Second, the story can make us more aware of the feelings of others. There may be fragile people within our circle of influence on any given day. Let’s remember that they, like you, carry their IALAC sign, too. Not only can we try to avoid tearing down or crumpling their IALAC, this story can encourage us to look for (or make) opportunities to build each other up… to help repair and bolster the self-image of others.