I have struggled in writing this posting. Several ideas ambled through my consciousness and nothing in the moment impressed me enough to pursue.
Then, in preparing for a group that I facilitate, I came across an
article that caused me to pause and reflect.
Interchangeably the words self-worth and self-esteem are used to reflect the same concept. The delineation presented in this article entitled “Self Worth” at first perplexed me and then evoked in me an insightful, “Ah, ah!” A distinction between the two.
Often I have said that self-esteem doesn’t just drop from nowhere. Something has to happen, to be done in order to grow self-esteem.
How might self-esteem be defined:
• Self-esteem is when I feel good about myself.
• Living by my own values, beliefs, and convictions.
• Self-esteem is the absence of self-hate.
• Being confident that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
• A state of total and absolute freedom. Freedom to choose to be myself.
• When I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3331622
Now let us look at an opposite for each self-esteem definition from the list above and from it we can begin to see what low self-esteem is.
• Self esteem is when I feel bad about myself.
• Living by the values, beliefs and convictions of someone else.
• Self esteem is the presence of self loathing.
• No confidence in achieving anything.
• A state of total and absolute restriction. Conformity with everyone else.
• I don’t like myself.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3331622
So there is something that has to happen, the something has to be done. This would consist in changing the focus from what is wrong or who is to blame for feeling so miserable and alone. Won’t happen overnight. Incrementally, step-by-step, breath-by-breath we begin the habit of noticing what is right and good in your life. A simple acknowledgement of someone’s smile, a ray of sun streaming through the trees. This is not so easy, natural, or normal. And it is possible to create a new neuropathway in the brain that allows for the retrieving of what is a more positive experience, another, and then another.
Nor is it a simple task to change one’s limiting or negative belief system (the “lens” through which one looks at and reacts to life) especially if it has been imprinted in the brain since childhood. “You’re plain no good!” “You’re stupid!” “You’re never going to amount to anything.”
We can change our minds. Again create a new neuropathway with recognizing the harmful thought and intentionally change it to one that is more representative of a higher self-esteem, of self-worth.
Obviously this is a very brief “look” at self-esteem. Books and books, practices and practices have been written about “growing” and “nurturing” self-esteem.
What captured my attention in the article I mentioned earlier is the distinction made between self-esteem and self-worth.
Self-esteem is changeable, dependent upon an external source. Self worth is what each of us is born with, not dependent on anything except our remembering. Real self-worth is entirely internal.
“As one of the creations of the universe you are worthwhile and have value, which cannot be taken from you. You can’t lose it, but you can lose sight of it. You can forget your value.”
What does this mean, really? No one has to do anything to improve self-worth. And, in the reality of so many of their experiences of abuse, of neglect, of abandonment – to mention only a few violations and betrayals – the person is not, is never permanently damaged. No one has the power to cross the deep and impenetrable boundary of self-worth.
At first lost in the horrible experience of such “soul shaking” abuse the individual is not able to separate the core truth of the untouchable self-worth – “You can’t lose it, but can lose sight of it. You can forget your value.” – from their sense of themselves as good, or not to blame. With guidance it is possible to “remember” their worth – to return to the true place of being worthy.
Again not an easy undertaking. Amazing once achieved, remembering and resting in worthiness.
How do you feel about yourself?
Is it good or bad? How you feel about
yourself is self-esteem. It is your
perception of how you are doing in the
world. Self-esteem may go up or down
depending upon what is happening
to you. Get an “A” on a test and you feel
great, but if you fail you feel terrible.
Self-esteem is changeable.
Self-worth differs from self-esteem.
Self-worth is what you are born with. As
one of the creations of the universe you
are worthwhile and have value, which
cannot be taken from you. You can’t
lose it, but you can lose sight of it. You
can forget your value.
A universal spiritual teaching helps us to
re-focus on our self-worth and hold on
to it. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is
the Christian version but the teaching is
found in all major religions.
Now when you love your neighbor as
yourself whom do you begin with? Who
do you love and value first? Is it your
neighbor or yourself? As a psychologist I
have found that many people
misunderstand this teaching. They think
it begins with the neighbor. They focus
on the neighbor so exclusively that they
neglect themselves. They give and give
to others until they give out and then
collapse into a depression. Once
depressed they cannot help themselves or
Many of us were taught to focus on the
neighbor and not on ourselves. As
children we are told not to brag or be
selfish. While teenagers, wanting to be
accepted, we may have minimized our
accomplishments to avoid appearing
conceited. As adults we may have
developed a false humility to avoid
looking prideful. We may come to not
like ourselves and believe that we don’t
deserve anything good. Self-esteem
suffers while self-worth is forgotten.
The reality is that loving your neighbor
as yourself begins with you. You must
love and value yourself if you are to
love others. You have to respect yourself
and acknowledge your own self-worth.
You must take care of yourself so that
you can love and help your neighbor.
Does this make you selfish? No.
It makes you responsible.
Suppose that you are the only adult
caring for a group of young children.
You raise all your food and only have a
small amount. At mealtime, in an effort
to take good care of the children, you
give them most of the food and you eat
very little. Over time you become weaker
and weaker, but you keep feeding the
children the same amount. Eventually
when you are too weak to work,
who will feed the children? No one! Now all
will perish because you neglected yourself.
What should you do? You should eat the
same as or perhaps more than the
children to keep your strength up
and ensure that you can continue to care for them.
Don’t neglect others by neglecting yourself.
Love yourself and then you can love your neighbor.
Don’t lose your self-worth. Each day make sure that
you take care of yourself so that you will be able to
take care of your neighbor.
Â©2000 Daniel H. Johnston. All Rights Reserved.
So, what are your thoughts, your experiences in regard to the distinction between self-esteem and self worth?
How might reading and reflecting on this post have helped you in your life experience?
What is it like for you to know that no one, not even you, can change or define your self-worth?