Friday, 27 April 2012

Redefining Self Esteem

(Don't expect the image to have anything to do with the subject, I just wanted to give you a visual)

I have been reading Robert Ohotto's book "Turning Fate into Destiny" and it has got me thinking about a few things, specifically what is self esteem?

Like most people that I know, I have struggled with my self esteem. I am on familiar terms with feelings of inadequacy,  perceptions of not being interesting,  judging myself as not good enough to be an artist, or as just weird. When I was a young adult, I was arrogant and imagined I was superior to most people. As I got older I realised this was a way of coping with my actual feelings of inferiority. I have tried to heal those sensitivities through therapy, accomplishments and even positive thinking.

I came to not really like the expression 'self esteem'. Not only because I couldn't seem to 'get' it, but because it seemed to have connotations of an almost smugness, as if self esteem and humility are antipathetic. It seemed to have an attitude of 'I can do anything and be anything and have anything.' And as I grew older and a bit wiser it was becoming apparent that this was simply not true.
Instead of what I understood as self esteem I began to work with self acceptance and self forgiveness.

In his book, Robert Ohotto differentiates between what he calls self esteem and soul esteem. I find this contrast illuminating. He says that self esteem has to do with outer confirmation of one's worth, by success, social status, doing well etc. All well enough, but how resilient is anything dependent on others'  opinions? - others who even when well meaning are not reliable (meaning that their opinions are not reliable).

My interest is in redefining self esteem (taken from Robert Ohotto's definition of soul esteem). A definition based on what is True and changeless. That all living beings have innate worth, and that worth is unchanging and equal. I am not worth more or less than anyone else.
How about that? A Radical concept. But if I look deeply I see that it is True. If someone is more successful, more beautiful, more stylish, it does not actually effect their or my inherent worth.

My worth (and theirs) remains the same. No matter what I do or they do.

How about that?


lilasvb said...

love teh green touch

Alison Mackay said...

Yes I agree that your/our inherent worth is innate, unchanging, not related to anything we may have achieved in this lifetime. I have always thought self esteem was something quite different to that. It's how good we feel about ourselves, its not related to our inherent self worth at all really.
Still it seems quite useful to have good self esteem in all kinds of ways. Feelings of self doubt and lack of worth can be very crippling!

Zom said...

Alison, surely if we know our inherent worth then we do feel good about ourselves?
It is when I forget that outside values can cause me to judge myself (and others.)

bohemiannie! art said...

I totally agree with the comment that all living beings have innate worth which is unchanging and equal. The only difference between people are their thoughts and feelings about life.

Caterina Giglio said...

agree completely... true with a capital T : )

Momo Luna said...

Beautiful and yes it's so true.....