With Highest Regard

With Highest Regards

Lent 30


I can come across as a very serious person.  There are some things I take most seriously, things like respect, treatment of others, and honesty.  However, myself I seldom take seriously.  I believe having a sense of humor is vital to surviving life and I think if I cannot laugh at myself, I should not laugh at others.  Now, does that mean I have a good self-worth or a poor level of self-esteem?


Self-esteem is one of those words we all throw around but seldom really think about its meaning.  Most people consider self-worth and self-esteem to be synonyms but, as we discussed yesterday, they are not.  A good working definition of self-esteem is the confidence and sureness, satisfaction and assurance about yourself.  In other words, self-esteem is thinking highly about yourself.  Many dictionaries consider synonyms for self-esteem to be ego and pride.  While self-esteem is sometimes listed as a synonym for self-worth, self-worth is never a synonym for self-esteem.


Self-worth is defined as valuing oneself.  The true difference between self-worth and self-esteem is found not in the definitions or even the synonyms.  The easiest way to understand the difference between these two words is in their antonyms, the words that are their opposites.  Antonyms of self-worth are few.  In fact, generally speaking only one is ever listed and that is self-deprecation.  However, self-esteem has more antonyms, some of the most popular being ego, humbleness, humility, and modesty.


Having high self-esteem can become a rocky road and lead to thinking only of one’s self.  Self-worth, however, can lead to appreciating others.  When we are able to accept ourselves and value our complete being, then we can accept others and treat them with respect.  This recognition of our own uniqueness leads to an acceptance in the uniqueness of others.  It allows us to value the contributions each person makes to the world.


Having a good sense of self-worth leads to a life lived with positivity.  There is an ancient Cherokee American Indian story that tells the tale of two dogs being fed.  The moral is that the dog we feed is the dog that grows.  That may sound like simple logic but we often forget that fact when it comes to our own psyche.  When we “feed” ourselves negative thoughts, then we are feeding the wrong dog and turning our life into a self-defeating project with no hope of success.


We should feed the figurative positive dog within ourselves and help ourselves grow, nurturing our assets and building newer and better skills while emphasizing those we already have.  Discover what works for you and then capitalize on it.  Your favorite colors, music, etc. all will feed the positive dog within you.


When we use our unique talents and skills to help the world, our self-worth will grow immeasurably.  We will not need to follow the latest trend for a sense of self-esteem; our actions will give it to us.  When we learn to accept ourselves, then we can enjoy our being and live with confidence and contribution, laughing with pleasure not dismay, replacing sarcasm with smiles and delight in our being.  When our own personal value grows, then we can really blossom and enjoy being part of this wonderful garden we call earth.


And the winner is …

And the Winner Is …

Lent 29


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. 




What Are You?

What Are You?

Lent 12


If you are a somewhat regular reader of this blog, then you know my penchant for coffeehouses and children.  Although I usually order tea and not coffee, the throng of humanity found at a coffeehouse is delightful.  Add children to that and you have a writer’s mall for thoughts and conversations.  In short, at a recent visit, I found myself in a compositional heaven.


The grandparents were at their regular Bible Study/Social meeting and the young boy had accompanied them.  His delight at the large-sized orange juice his grandfather had ordered for him was heart-warming.  “I’m gonna grow big and strong with this!” he exclaimed.  His grandmother offered him a spoonful of her coffee upon his request and the expression on his face made everyone laugh.  “That cannot be good for you.” He advised his grandmother.  “You need to drink more orange juice.”  Somewhere the Minute Maid company had just loss a great commercial idea.


Introductions were made to the young lad as others joined their group.  I was impressed with the “adult” way they introduced themselves to him.  After all introductions were made, he then asked if he could repeat their names.  It was clear no one expected him to do so but he did.  Upon saying the name of the last person, his grandfather began to open their meeting.  The young boy politely told the grandfather he was not finished talking.  Chuckles were heard and the grandfather pointed out he had named everyone, correctly. 


The young boy looked around the coffeehouse and then leaned over to his grandfather.  “I just learned their names,” he explained.  Now I need to ask them something.”  The group seemed amenable so the grandfather sat back and encouraged his grandson to continue.  The wide young person then looked at the first he had named and asked:  “What are you?”  The gentleman began to say he was s retired teacher when the boy interrupted him.  “No, that is what you did.  What are YOU?”


That is the question I hope you ask yourself this week.  What are you?  Last week we delved into the question “Who are you?” in our attempt to improve and grow some self-love.  This week we cannot improve our self-worth without knowing what we are.  More importantly, what do you want to be?


Any good gardener knows there are various things that need to be done in the process of growing a garden.  There is the cultivating and tilling of the soil, preparing the soil, nurturing the soil with water and perhaps fertilizer and plant food.  The list might seem endless to a non-gardener but to those who believe in growing things, the list is simply a part of daily life.  Essential to gardening, though, is knowing what one is planting.


I have stated here that I do not have a “green thumb”; that is to say, my talents do not include being a master gardener.  The truth is that I can grow a nice garden, whether it be flowers or vegetables.  What hinders my success in gardening is my lack of interest in learning about the plants themselves.  I can bore you to no end about the difference between a xylophone and a marimba because I am interested in those things.  The nutritional needs and their differences between a cauliflower and a bell pepper hold no interest for me at all.  For one thing, I am allergic to bell peppers and mildly so to cauliflower.  Ask me about tomatoes, though, and I am right there with answers.  You see, I adore tomatoes. 


Life cannot be lived just eating tomatoes, though.  While they hold great nutritional value for our bodies, we do need other things.  I have come to learn how to grow carrots and cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and kale, and attempt to grow beans, although pole beans and legumes are still at the “getting to know you” stage with my gardening skills.  Corn and I have an on-again-off-again relationship and I have never attempted fruit trees although I do love to eat their bounty. 


Clearly, if I had to grow my own food I could survive but I would have to alter my eating habits and pray for good health and weather.  I rely a great deal on the convenience of shopping at local markets and stores.  I can grow an avocado plant but cannot get it to bear fruit.  Life for me without avocadoes is unthinkable and I am grateful for imports from other states and neighboring countries.  The same is true for olives.  I am something of a cheese-a-holic and yet, having a herd of cattle and goats would not yield me any cheese homemade.  Again, I am grateful for those for whom making cheese is a talent they share.


When it comes to growing my soul, I also rely on others.  I myself can only do so much based upon my skills and knowledge.  I reference many things and listen to many people.  Just as with an actual gardening, there needs to be some weeding out of the information we have available.  Not everything is beneficial and unfortunately some people are more interested in creating followers than helping people grow.  I hope this week you find your own sources of nurturing to help you grow and the week’s posts assist you in this endeavor.  More importantly, I hope you find and increase your self-worth and are then able to answer to the question:  What am I?