Self-worth cannot be verified by others. You are worthy because you say it is so. If you depend on others for your value, it is other’s worth.
You learned to put others ahead of you, to think of others first because that showed you were a “good” person. You learned self-effacement and were nurtured on instructions like, “share your things with you cousins.”
After all, you’re not supposed to go around loving yourself. What will others think of you! Always say please and thank you stand up when an adult enters, ask permission to leave the table, tolerate the endless cheek pinching and head patting.
The message was clear: adults are important; others are significant; you are insignificant. Don’t trust your own judgment was corollary number one, and there was a full cargo of reinforces that came under the subheading of “politeness.”
These rules, disguised under the word manners, helped you to internalize the judgment of others at the expense of you own values. It’s not surprising that those same question marks and self-denying definitions persist into adulthood.
How do these self-doubts get in the way? In the important area of loving others, you may be having a difficult time. Giving love to others is directly related to how much love you have for yourself!
Love has many definitions. The ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves, without any insistence that they satisfy you.
This may be a workable definition, but the fact remains that so few are able to adopt it for themselves. How can you reach the point of being able to let others be what they choose without insisting they meet your expectations?
Simple, By loving yourself. By feeling that you are important worthy and beautiful. Once you recognize just how good you are, you won’t have to have others reinforce your value or values by making their behaviour conform to your dictates.
If you’re secure in yourself, you neither want not need others to be like you. You get good at loving yourself, and suddenly you are able to love others to give others and do for others by giving and doing for yourself first.
Then there are no gimmicks to your giving. You are not doing it for the thanks or the payoffs but because of the genuine pleasure you get from being a helper for a lover.
If the you is unworthy or unloved, then giving becomes impossible. How can you give love if you are worthless? If you cannot give love, neither can you receive it. After all what can love be worth if it is bestowed on a worthless person.
The entire business of being in love, giving and receiving, starts with a self that is totally loved. Take one who claims to love his wife and children dearly. To show his affections he bought those expensive gifts, took them on holidays, and was careful when away on business trips to sign his letters ‘”love”.
Yet he could never bring himself to tell his wife or children that he loved them. He had the same problem with his parents of whom he was fond. He wanted to say the words. Yet every time he tried to say “I love you,” he got all choked up.
In his head the words “I love you” meant he was putting himself on the line. If he said “I love you,” someone must answer “I love you, too”. His statement of love must be met with an affirmation of his own self-worth. You can challenge your self-feelings in terms of your ability to love yourself. Remember, at no time, under no circumstances, is self-hate healthier than self-love.
Even if you behaved in a way that you dislike, you will only lead to immobilization and damage. Learn from the error, and resolve not to repeat it but don’t associate it with your self-worth.
Never confuse your self-worth with your behaviour, or the behaviour of others towards you.
It isn’t easy. The messages of society are overpowering. “You’re a bad boy,” rather than “You’ve behaved badly.” “Mommy doesn’t like you when you behave that way” as opposed to “Mom doesn’t like the way you behave.” The conclusions that you may have adopted from these messages are, “She doesn’t like me, I must be a nerd” instead of, “She doesn’t like, that’s her decision, and while I don’t like it, I’m still important.”
Your own self-image may still be based upon other’s perceptions of you. While it is true that your self-profiles were learned from the opinions of adults, it is not true that you must carry them around with you forever. With mental practice you can make some self-loving choices that will amaze you.
First, you must destroy the myth that you have one single self-concept and that it is either positive or negative all of the time.
You have many self-images, and they vary from moment to moment. If you were asked, “Do you like yourself?” you might be inclined to lump all of your negative self-thoughts together into a collective “No”. Breaking down the areas of dislike into specifics will give you definite goals to work on.
You have feelings about yourself physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally. You have an opinion about your abilities in music, athletics, art, mechanical undertakings, and writing and on and on. Your self-portraits are as numerous as your activities, and through all of these behaviour, there is always the person that you either accept or reject.
Your worth is determined by you, and with no need for an explanation to anyone. You may not like your behaviour in a given instance, but that has nothing to do with your self-worth. You can choose to be worthy to yourself forever, and then get on with the task of working on your self-images.
Don’t let others dictate what will be attractive to you. Decide to like the physical you and declare it as worthy and attractive to you thereby rejecting the comparisons and opinions of others. The advertisements that bombard you daily tell you to be contemptuous of the way your mouth, underarms, feet, skin and even genitals smell.
“Change to our product and feel real and natural again.” Self-acceptance means liking the physical you, and eliminating those cultural impositions to be proper or to merely tolerate your body when it behaves other than in a cosmetic fashion. You can choose to think of yourself as intelligent by applying your very own standards to yourself. In fact, the happier you make yourself, the more intelligent you are.
If you are deficient in any areas such as algebra, spelling or writing, it is simply the natural result of choices you have been making up until now. Should you decide to devote enough time to any of these tasks, you would undoubtedly be more proficient in them.
With enough time and effort you can master almost any academic skill. The point is that intelligence is not something that you inherited or had otherwise bestowed upon you. You are as smart as you choose to be.
Your artistic, mechanical, athletic, musical and other abilities are largely the result of choices and should not be confused with your worthiness. Self-acceptance based upon what you believe to be appropriate for you is something you can make a decision now.
Self-dislike can take many forms. You engage in some putting-down-of-yourself behaviour. Rejecting compliments directed at you. Oh this old thing. “I am really not smart, just lucky, I guess.”
Each time you engage in self-putdown, you reinforce that old bugaboo that others have laid on you and reduce your own opportunities for any kind of love in your life, be itself or other-directed love. Surely you are too worthy to go around putting yourself down.
Functioning people never complain, particularly about the rocks being rough or the sky being cloudy or the ice being too cold. Acceptance means no complaining, and happiness means ne complaining about the things over which you can do nothing.
Complaining is the refuge of those who have no self- reliance. Complaining about yourself is a useless activity, and one which keeps from effectively living your life. It encourages self-pity and immobilizes you in your efforts at giving and receiving love.
Moreover it reduces your opportunities for improved love relationships and increased social intercourse. While it may get you attention, the noticing will be done in a light that will clearly cast shadows on your own happiness.
Self-love has nothing to do with the sort of behaviour characterised by telling everyone how wonderful you are. That’s not self-love, but an attempt to win the attention and approval of others by chest-thumping.
It means the individual is evaluating himself on the basis of how others see him. If he were not, he would not feel the need to convince them. There is no need to convince others. An internal acceptance is sufficient.