And the Winner Is …
This week we are discussing self-worth and today we are transitioning that discussion to Self-esteem. Psychologist Dr. Christina Hibbert, founder of the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Center and mother of six children, defines these two terms in this clear, concise and excellent manner: “Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”. It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth. It is possible to feel “high self-esteem,” or in other words, to think I’m good at something, yet still not feel convinced that I am loveable and worthy.”
There is no magic pill one can take to increase their self-worth. It is called “self” because we and we alone are the only ones who can make our being have value. We and we alone are the only ones who can make our living have worth.
This is where the living can get tough. Seriously tough. One cannot simply go through life living only for themselves. Living with tunnel vision might seem like the only way to be successful and it may seem to have worked for certain people but it really doesn’t.
There is a candidate running for the office of the presidency currently in the United States that has held multiple rallies with large numbers attending. However, his speeches are only about himself. When he speaks of others, he does so to mock them. His children call this “tough love”. What it really is isn’t tough love but low self-worth.
This person is monetarily wealthy or so it seems. He has his own different private modes of transportation and wears suits that cost more than three times what I spend on groceries in half a year. Yet, he cannot settle down to just one family or just one anything. His name has to be on everything and he does not accept responsibility for any failed actions.
These are all indicators not of a person who has a high sense of self but a person who is constantly trying to find self. Like many, this candidate is practicing a commonly used tactic in sports – a good defense [or attack] beats a better offense. But that is not always true and a leader is not someone who builds himself up by belittling others.
Our actions are indicative of our sense of self. How we walk; our posture; our ability to admit our mistakes forgive ourselves and move on – These are hallmarks of a person with a healthy sense of self. These are hallmarks of a person who is winning the game of life.
The person with the biggest mouth or loudest name-calling is not someone with a high sense of self-worth or self-esteem. A good set of lungs is great for an opera singer but not a leadership quality. We need to become the leaders of our lives.
Self-esteem is a slippery slope that we constantly slide down and then try to crawl our way back to the top. What exactly is self-esteem and how does it differ from self-worth? Most psychologists define self-esteem as belief in oneself or an overall evaluation of one’s own self-worth. It might seem like they are the same but read on because they are very different.
We, if we are honest, generally think base our self-esteem on our judgment of ourselves. It becomes out own personal attitude about our being and existence which encompasses what we believe, our emotions and thoughts. In short, self-esteem often is considered what we think about ourselves and that is the problem.
Life is a constantly flowing wave on which we surf. It is forever moving and changing and so does our personal evaluation of who we are. That evaluation is often based upon the last few minutes of our lives. If we stumbled in front of hundred people walking across an airport terminal, then we feel like a clumsy oaf. If we spill a tray of drinks while serving a group of people, we feel like an idiot. If we flunk a test, we are stupid.
Maybe yesterday, though, was a better day. Perhaps yesterday we found some money in the pocket of a jacket making us feel lucky. Maybe yesterday someone sent us a thank you note or gift, making us feel blessed and good about ourselves. That happened to me yesterday and after hanging said picture, I felt like I was ten feet tall! Of course, then last night I spilled some milk. Guess being ten feet tall made the counter seem higher – LOL.
I really am the same height today as I was two days ago. And just before I opened my lovely thank gift of a beautiful drawing from a most talented friend, I had been ten minutes late to a meeting. I despise being late and had already chastised myself for being poorly organized and lacking a sense of good timing. I felt very small as I apologized for being tardy. In a matter of ninety minutes I went from feeling small to feeling ten feet tall. That is the problem with basing everything on self-esteem.
We are winner in life when we keep living. We need to live in relationship with the whole of creation and no successful relationship is based on name-calling or negative mimicry. Leadership of a country is the same as leadership of our lives and it takes a good sense of personal self-worth, not having a loud voice to shout and drown out anyone else. That is not living in relationship. That is not winning.
When we live thinking of others and being in communion with the whole of creation, then we improve our self-worth and our self-esteem rises. We need to be able to look into the looking glass and see positive actions. What made me late for my meeting was buying food for the hungry and the lack of niceness by others. Two people cut in front of my while I stood in line waiting to pay. The woman checking goods at the exit to prevent shoplifting spent five minutes talking to the person in front of me. I responded calmly and graciously to all of these. While I felt small for being late, once I thought it through I felt pretty good about myself. Getting a beautiful picture from a talented friend seemed like winning the best prize of all.
The world continues to revolve and we must evolve. Dr. Hibbert explains: “The ability to comprehend and accept my true value—to understand I am more than my mind, body, emotions, and behaviors.” We cannot be one-dimensional in our personal evaluations. We live a life that is fluid and changing and so our evaluations will change. I am both successful and not successful in my endeavors and that is perfectly okay. In fact, it is to be expected. It is how we learn. Winning in life is about accepting the good and the bad, admitting they exist and then moving on, having learned from them.