“If Self-Esteem is a Myth, then what is the Truth?”: Understanding Self-Worth
I appreciate the feedback I’ve received on my article, “5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth”. Some of you were excited about the insights I shared; some weren’t so sure. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you give it a look. In this post, I hope to build upon those ideas, to help us understand a little better why self-esteem isn’t the way to go & why “self-worth” is.
Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth
“Aren’t Self-Esteem & Self-Worth the Same Thing?” I’ve heard this question many times, and if you’re using a dictionary, then the answer is: “Yes”. In fact, most definitions for “self-worth” simply say, “See self-esteem”.
I, however, disagree that self-worth and self-esteem are one and the same. Self-esteem, to me, is more external, surface, conditional, and changing, while self-worth is internal, deep, unconditional, and enduring.
Here are a couple definitions I found for “Self-Worth”:
1) Respect for or a favorable opinion of oneself
2) One’s worth as a person, as perceived by oneself
3) The sense of one’s own value or worth as a person (origin 1960-65)
The last two seem closer to what I’m talking about but they’re awfully simple definitions for such a deep, core principle.
What I’m proposing is a new definition of self-worth. Yes, it includes our sense of value or worth as a person. But I take it a step further.
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.
Self-Worth is Deep
I know this is getting a little deep and spiritual, but to me, self-worth is deep and spiritual. Too many of us settle for “self-esteem”—for feeling good about how we act, look, feel, think—instead of seeking what lies beneath. We fail to get to know our true selves because we’re too caught up in the selves we create.
No matter how much we learn to love who we seem to be on the outside, we will never fully embrace our worth until we dig deeper. Self-worth isn’t about our outsides. It’s about knowing who we really are on the inside. It’s about connection—to other people, to our true selves, and to our Higher Power.
Self-Worth is Accepting the Truth
As I accept the Truth—that I am not a “personality” but rather a “soul,” with innate, unchanging potential and worth—I learn to accept all of me: my strengths and weaknesses, my “good” and my “not so good”. I see that I can choose to become stronger or weaker, but these things don’t define me. I can then let go of who I or others think I am and just be who I am. Because who I am is a divine soul, full of light and love and joy and all things good. I just have to go deeper and see it.
Perhaps Marianne Williamson’s brilliant (and now famous) quote says it best:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I agree. We were “born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” And it is ”in all of us.” Understanding this Truth not only allows us to freely accept and love ourselves, it opens the door for us to help others do the same.
Self-Worth is Possible for All
I know some of you don’t believe me. I know there are some who are reading this and thinking, “Yeah, right. That might be true for some people, but it’s not true for me.” You don’t believe you will ever experience self-worth.
Well, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. You are of worth. You are valuable. You are loveable. You are important. You are essential to this world. And you don’t have to believe me. Not yet. You just have to open yourself up to the possibility. Open yourself up to the idea, and you can and will someday know for yourself that what I say is true. For everyone. Even for you.
More on this Topic: Check out Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth: Q & A w/Dr. Christina Hibbert [plus video]
Coming Soon: “Self-Worth is a great idea, but how do you learn it and teach it to others?” My Theory of How to Learn Self-Worth
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 Online Dictionary in “Reference Tools,” Microsoft Word.
 Webster’s Dictionary, hardcover, 1998.