Self Worth – How do we value ourselves?

"You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don't know it, all of that doesn't even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It's not like you have forever, so don't waste any of your seconds, don't throw even one of your moments away.”  ― C. Joy Bell C.

Hello Everyone: Welcome to this month’s article. The focus for this month is self worth. Lack of self worth seems to be an epidemic among many people. Why is this; what are the effects of low self worth and how can this be changed? 

Before we go any further – let’s make sure we are on the same page concerning the meaning of Self Worth. Self worth is defined in the dictionary as: the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self respect. What I find interesting is the fact that the Dalia Lama had not heard of anyone having low self worth before traveling to the West. It seems to be a state of mind that we Westerners have perfected. 

Self worth has absolutely nothing to do with our achievements in the world. I think this is one of the reasons this issue is an epidemic. We are so focused on achieving goals - which is fine as long as we keep the law of impermanence in mind. The law of impermanence dictates that everything must change and nothing is permanent.  When we loss something or someone we tend to devalue ourselves and think we are - less than.  The bottom line – we are told by society that we have no value if we don’t achieve success by gaining externally – whether we win the football game, win the prized contract for an account, have a bank account full of money, marry the person of our dreams, etc.

How many times have you or should I say ‘any of us’ encountered someone who lost their job and went into depression. Their thinking is ‘they are the job’ and if they don’t have the job, then who are they? I know this is true because it was an issue I had for a very long time. I was raised to work. My value was in - how much I made, the prestige of the job, the car I drove and what neighborhood I lived in. Losing my job, all those years ago caused me to rethink myself worth.  I had given some outside source the power to dictate my value. Those days are and have been over for a long time, now.

We teach our kids how to value themselves and the cycle continues. As an example: most of our kids want to live up to someone else’s standard of beauty and if this can’t be achieved their self worth is diminished. As adults we have been trained that there are winners and losers in the world and God help the person who is perceived to be a loser.  If you don’t believe me, think back to what happens when you meet someone for the first time. What is one of the first questions asked? Isn’t it ‘what do you do?’ or if you were raised in the south as I was ‘what church do you attend?’  Based on the answer to the questions, the person is put into either the winner or loser category and a determination is made whether the person is worthy of getting to know.  This puts tremendous pressure on the person being judged.

I have a theory that low self worth is one of the causes of so many people suffering from depression, poor health, drug addiction, anger and rage, and probably other illnesses.  Having to meet someone else’s expectations to achieve approval is the key. Since the beginning of civilization we have had to depend on the group for survival. If we weren’t in the group we would be eaten or die of starvation. It has been ingrained in us to stay with the pack and one of the ways we stay with the pack is to be in the good graces of that pack. Our packs are the societies we live in – our cultures whether they are determined by socio economics, race, country, city or gender.

The next question is: how do we achieve self worth given all the pressures we as humans put on ourselves?  We first must begin to look inside ourselves for what we value instead of looking outside ourselves. In other words - what is important to you – the individual regardless of what society says should be important to you.  Take a look at what you are good at – what makes your heart sing. There is nothing inherently wrong with achieving goals, as long as they are goals that come from your basic nature – your gifts and internal dreams.  Be careful to listen to the still voice within that is loving and not to the critical voice – one is from the heart and the other the ego.  You will know what each step on the path to rebuilding yourself worth is by paying attention to how you feel, in each instant. Start with something simple - Something that will give you a small victory. This victory is within yourself and not external.  Slowly, you will begin to rebuild the self worth that is your birth right.

Remember, each of us has a gift that Spirit has given us to sing in the world and if we don’t sing our individual song we will have low self worth.  We as humans have a divine right to be happy which includes self worth. Too many of us have died with our song unsung.  It’s time we regain our individual self worth which gives us the courage and strength to sing our individual song.