What is your self-worth?

I grew up known as an intelligent child and later an educated (with prestigious degrees) adult and an accomplished career. Needless to say I had a very high self-esteem as long as I played the game set by our social norms. Then, came the pandemic and I became one of the many people who hit rock bottom due to a shaky career and all the other things that the pandemic brought upon us. To quote Sadhguru ‘Our expensive homes became our prisons and our cars became junk because we just couldn’t go anywhere.’

Just like everybody else I was stripped of all my labels and identities and forced to meet my true selves. And the first thing that flew out of the window was my ‘high self-esteem.’ Until then I had no idea that self-esteem and self-worth are worlds apart and that you cannot replace one term with another. The starting point to understand the dangers of self-esteem would be to go through this TED talk by the world’s leading expert in self-compassion Dr. Kristin Nerf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtZBUSplr4.

For a long time psychologists thought that high self-esteem is a marker of good mental health & people with low self-esteem suffer with depression and other mental health issues. The problem is not having high self-esteem but how you get it. Self-esteem is developed based on our identities and achievements set by social norms and depends on how other people treat us, in short the ground is quite shaky. It often means others must look up to us and many times to defend it we make an effort to make others look small in front of us and that can be quite toxic to the self.

The total opposite of that is self-compassion. The term is self-explanatory and it simply means to be your own best friend in any and every given situation. People with high levels of self-esteem fear mistakes & failure whereas those with high levels of self-compassion see mistakes & failure as a process of growing hence develop the ‘growth mindset’ which positive psychology describes as one of the most important tools to set children/individuals up for success. So, stand up for yourself as you would for your friend. Talk to yourself as you would to a dear friend.

Self-compassion and Self-worth are intertwined, without one you cannot have the other. The world’s leading psychologist, best-selling author and physician Dr. Gabor Mate explained this beautifully in one of his interviews. He was assigned to write his latest book ‘The Myth of Normal’ for which he had collected 25 years of research data but at some point he felt like a failure because he thought he wouldn’t be able to deliver the book. He immediately paused to look at the thought and said ‘I am not my book!’ Gabor says the danger of identifying with something is the killer of self-worth. So, if he fails at writing the book then he simply fails at performing that particular task, it doesn’t say anything about him, it doesn’t make him a failure! 

It took me some time to figure out my Self-worth and trust me it is a calm place to be in. Everybody deserves to be at that place. The best part is that we are all born with it, ever seen a 2 year old? It just gets lost as we grow up. You have it in you, with little effort you will find it!

Much Love,

Rashmi Yadav

Free Image credit – https://pixabay.com/




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