I believe that
a low sense of self-worth is a major problem plaguing most
people today. It often underlies many other problems we
face. Without a healthy sense of oneself, we feel unworthy
of respect and of good things in our life.
Our society has often taught us to value others and to
devalue ourselves. Yet this doesn't work for the betterment
of all society. Unless we truly value ourselves, we're
always looking to others for our sense of value or approval.
Consequently, this usually entails trying to manipulate them
into "loving" us in some way in order for us to
gain a sense of self-appreciation. Manipulation and control
are always detrimental to relationships. And needing the
approval of others always leaves our self-worth in someone
too, had felt the sting of putting others before self, to
the denial and negation of a healthy self-respect and
self-appreciation. I, too, looked to others for approval,
for the first 50 years of my life. I knew the struggle of
seeking to find an appropriate sense of oneself, whether or
not one had the approval of others.
The thing that turned it around for me was simply accepting,
with child-like faith, the belief that I am loved and have
value in this world, simply because I exist! From my
historical religious perspective, it was a matter of my
accepting "God's view of me" rather than the
world's view of me.
I simply accepted the belief that I have value, as do
all people, because I am part of God's creation, created by
Him/Her, as an extension of that Goodness. Nothing I've ever
done has earned it; nothing I've ever done has lost it; and
nothing I've ever failed to do has lost it. It's simply that
I have worth because I'm a part of that which is
intrinsically and inherently Good, as we all are. Period.
I'd assented to that belief intellectually for some years,
but knowing something intellectually and knowing it
experientially aren't the same thing. I now feel my worth
within, whether or not anyone else on the planet validates
my worth by their appreciation of me. I appreciate others'
appreciation of me, but I don't depend on it, for no one
else can know me as I know me. And if they're not
appreciating me, it may simply be because they aren't
appreciating themselves either, so they can't see beyond
their own pain. Put simply, a person's worth doesn't depend
on anyone else's approval but God's.
Once I began to get my sense of worth from within rather
than trying to get others to value me from without, I was
able to let everybody else "off the hook." Nobody
else had to "value me" in order for me to feel my
own worth. This gives me the freedom to allow people to be
just as they are, whether or not they include me. And it
gives me the freedom to love others, whether or not they
return that love. In my opinion, unconditional love
doesn't have to be returned; it only has to be given,
because giving is its nature.
This said, my only advice to anyone would be to simply
decide you have value by accepting that belief for yourself.
That's really why we want others' approval—to convince
ourselves of our worth. But our worth is a given; only our
unbelief keeps us from accepting it.
You can never do enough to please everybody. So
please yourself and let those who are attracted to what you
are be attracted to you. As you become willing to release
the compulsion to need validation from others, you can begin
to give of yourself in a way that others will more likely
value you. You don't have to try to be any specific
"something" somebody else would want. Just plain
"goodness" is attractive to most people.
The problem with trying to "win" others' approval
is that we don't have our own approval in that situation.
And since others reflect back to us what we believe about
ourselves, they will reflect back disapproval. Most people
don't act; they react. So they don't "act" toward
you; they "react" to you. When you begin to value
you, others will feel that value and respond accordingly.
As long as your happiness depends on something outside of
yourself, your happiness is in someone else's hands. And you
can't control that. I've learned that I can give myself
happiness by simply doing it, by loving myself as purely and
innocently as I would love any other human being, for I am
"another human being" to others.
You have value, whether or not anyone else
acknowledges it. You are worthwhile, whether or not
anyone else says so. And as you begin to live from that
perspective, you will begin to radiate a sense of well-being
that others will like and want to be around. You don't have
to try to be something they will like. Your own unique
version of "goodness" will be sufficient. People
will still have preferences and may prefer someone else over
you. But they will have a greater sense of appreciation for
you as you express a greater appreciation for yourself.
importantly, you will appreciate you and more easily
I wish I could tell you specifically what you have to do to
achieve this, but I can't. It's simply a belief that you
adopt. And a belief (any belief) is simply a thought that
you think, over and over, until you come to adopt it,
whether or not it is true. We have many beliefs that aren't
"true," but because we believe them, they become
true in our experience of life. But your worth is one that,
I believe, is unquestionably true. You only need to accept
it as true for yourself to begin reaping the benefits of it.
Your own eternal self knows that all is well, even if your
intellect isn't yet convinced of that. But you can retrain
your intellect by simply changing your mind. That's how your
intellect got every belief it has now—you accepted
something long enough that you came to believe it!
You're OK. You have value. As YOU begin to live from
your worth, and not from a sense of lack of worth, you will
radiate that worth to others, who, like you previously, are
also looking for their sense of worth. As you know your own
worth, you also know their worth.
Give yourself permission to value yourself, despite
the teachings of our society to the contrary. Jesus said it
eloquently when he said, "Love your neighbor AS you
love yourself." Loving ourselves is the measure by
which we should love others. Funny how our society has
gotten that one backward! In truth, you cannot love others
until you begin to love yourself.
I've learned that I can be a "lover" simply by
loving, whether or not anyone else "loves me
back." I am "in love" whether or not a
specific person "loves me back." I am a lover,
period. And a lover loves! And as I love, I get to feel the
wonder of that love flowing through me. When water flows
through a pipe, the pipe gets wet, too! I've learned that as
I focus on giving, rather than receiving, I too receive from
the act of giving.
You have value. But you must claim your value.
you look to others to validate it, you are, in that moment,
not claiming it for yourself. So others have a harder time
of claiming it for you, since most of them don't claim it
for themselves either.
Enough of this. You are loved.
©Charles David Heineke. Spread the word. Please copy freely.