Image courtesy of digitalart/ Self-worth : Nothing can take it away: why it beats self-esteem
I have spent most of my life, like many others, pursuing the feeling: "I am good enough." I have fallen into the usual traps in order to feel this. That is, I have sought self-esteem.
Self-esteem is about feeling good enough by the world's standards, or people in the world. It's often based on having certain things in your life, for example, a great job, a partner to feel okay about ourselves.
It's shaky because if these things leave, if certain things are gone, we feel not okay.
So self-esteem is often about liking ourselves, but that depends on extrinsic factors.
On the other hand, self-worth is about feeling okay just because you are, just because you're human.
It means you know you're not perfect, that you have good points and bad points, but that makes you no less or better of a person for that.
Self-worth is about accepting ourselves the way we are. Self-esteem tries to get us to remove anything 'bad' and doesn't allow us to just be. Self-worth allows us to recognise we are human, and like everyone, have good and bad points, strengths and weaknesses.
I still struggle with the self-esteem "trap". However, I have also experience the peace and acceptance that comes from self-worth, and it is a far more pleasant feeling!
The reason I have found self-worth worthwhile seeking rather than self-esteem is that we are okay the way we are, warts and all, and it can't be taken away from us.
It is because from the knowledge, that, like every single person on the planet, we are okay, just because we are here, because we are human. Self-worth is actually a right of every single person, just because they came into the world.
There are many ways I have sought a feeling of "okayness" - depending on having something or being something, not just because I existed.
1. Throughout most of our lives, we'll want to be accepted by others. This IS normal AND healthy. However, if we are:
-afraid of rejection or not being accepted because we feel less because of it, it's a self-esteem trap. Or if we fall into a popularity trap, thinking the more friends the better, it's a trap. We have to like ourselves. Celebrities are a great example that popularity cannot always lead to a happy life - how many have suicided, turned to drugs, despite seeming to have everything?
2. Worry about our looks to earn acceptance from others. Looks fade. We are bombarded with beautiful people from the media. However, we all know that we love our friends, the ones we care about because of what's within. Again, how many times do you hear about models who are so insecure? Or who unhappy because they may feel they are accepted only because of their looks?
3. Independent of wanting to earn money to support our family, pay the mortgage, and for a happy and comfortable life (for there's nothing wrong with this),
If we seek to be as rich or have as great job as possible so others will think better of us, or we think it'll make us more worthwhile, this is another trap.
Actually, as someone who loves to write, I know it won't earn much money at all. Yet, I wouldn't change it for anything. I know most writers would agree.
4. For women, if we are with someone for love where we feel loved this is wonderful and healthy. However, if we have to be with someone and are scared of being single because you feel less if you are, this is yet another snare. You are okay in and of yourself. One and one make two, not two halves make a whole. Self-worth is about feeling whole.
5. The need to be perfect. The need to always be competent and never make mistakes. This is a self-esteem trap because even if we were perfect, we probably then live on a tightrope, worried we may make a mistake.
I actually find people who admit their mistakes, and can laugh at them, and who can admit their human-ness to be extremely likeable. We often feel at ease around these people. We feel we are more acceptable around people who can admit and laugh at their mistakes It can be uneasy to be around people who are perfect, because it's hard to be human around them.
6. Body image issues. It is normal and a great thing to be healthy. However, if we have to have a certain shape, or be thinner (this is particularly an issue for young women). Again, as a reality check, do we love our friends because they are thin? Or a certain shape? I don't think I have to answer that! Of course we don't! Why do we set different standards for ourselves?
-of this world
-can seem to leave if we lose something because we are depending on something outside of us to keep self-esteem
- is about liking ourselves but only if we have or are something more than who we just are- but it doesn't mean we accept ourselves - see Self-worth, below.
-something that comes from within.
-something that can remain stable.
-is about accepting ourselves just because we are.
We are all human, perfectly imperfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all make mistakes. We all conquer mistakes. We are all different.