“The unexamined life is not worth living”. Socrates
Recently I have been impressed to challenge my concept of self-esteem versus self-worth. Here are some of the ideas written down and published in Medium for you to discuss, critique and contemplate.
Self–esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self–worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”. … That’s why I believe the pursuit of self–esteem is a myth. But having self–esteem means “feeling good about ourselves.”
Dr Hibbert says in another article “Self-esteem, to me, is more external, surface, conditional, and changing, while self-worth is internal, deep, unconditional, and enduring”.
The ‘unconditional’ word is what strikes me as most significant.
If, as I was told in AA, that ‘if I do esteemable things I will develop self-esteem’, then if I don’t and if I stop then my self-esteem is lost. Well, I know from my history and from others behavior, that we cannot and do not continue to do esteemable things all the time. It’s not possible.
And sainthood isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be…I tried that too.
I believe now, after 10 years of sobriety, that all my life I have been trying to live up to some considered norm, or value, that I never thought I had.
I achieved high marks in school but never thought of myself highly. I was the best squash player in my family and then my school, but I didn’t think I was much.
I married my pregnant girlfriend at 17 and don’t feel like I was a tremendous father, husband, or person.
And so on throughout life, achieving great sales, passing exams, and being lauded in the workplace – I never felt good enough and I drank alcoholically.
Some others find their solace in shopping, eating, sex and drugs. I was a great drinker. But I was wasn’t a worthy person.
Even in AA groups and in the Buddhist sangha I failed to find true self-worth.
So where was I mistaken? How can I find worth in my life? That is the question I have been asking and I’m here to share my results.
It was best explained to me through analogy – I LOVE analogy.
Dr. Berni Sewell is my new Worthiness Wonder Woman. She writes…
“But one day, while I was sitting on the sofa rocking my daughter to sleep in my arms, I looked at her and suddenly realized how infinitely worthy and valuable she was”.
Bingo. In that moment I realized my error. I had always had the same worth and always will. No matter what.
What a momentous occasion.
Finally, I can be myself and realize that my worth has not altered, no matter what. My worth is not Dependant on what I think or what others think…I am Worth.
The Next Right Thing
It’s funny though. I have spent my life trying to do the right thing by everybody. The World, the Government, fellow travelers, and especially my family. I did this so that I could be loved by them.
What is different now – not my behavior, because I still believe in doing the next right thing.
My love of self is changed because I don’t have to do those things to be loved. I am loved. I am love.
And the real difference is that I can love myself – even if I leave the toilet seat up.
I can love myself despite farting in the elevator.
I am lovable regardless of the number of claps I get for this article.
In the long term, I believe that the time I don’t spend on proving my self-worth will be the time that I can spend on loving others more. And THAT is something that I am really looking forward to.
This is dedicated to my mother Marj, and my daughter Imogen…two women who taught me love.
p.s. Christina Hibbert’s definition of Self-worth: To me, Self-Worth means: The ability to comprehend and accept my true value—to understand I am more than my mind, body, emotions, and behaviors, to see myself as God sees me, to accept His love for me, and to learn to love myself in like manner.