Determining a realistic sense of self worth, in spite of circumstances

26 01 2011

Your perception of yourself matters the most

Those of us who come from than ideal childhoods, usually struggle with low self esteem. The messages we received as kids may have communicated that we weren’t valuable at all (neglect) or that our only value was to fulfill some function or need for others (abuse). Thus, there was little or no intrinsic value in us, as individuals.

Love ourselves is fundamental to loving others

These messages, integrated early into our psyches, are very difficult (but not impossible) to undo as adults. Perhaps one of the most daunting tasks in the journey of personal development, is to learn self esteem and self love. However, I am convinced, it is fundamental to our capacity to enjoy life, live healthily and love others.

The problem is, despite what some self help literature declares, we really can’t do this by ourselves. Rebuilding a realistic sense of self worth is more than looking at ourselves in the mirror and remarking, “my, what a handsome devil you are!” On the other hand, depending upon others to provide us a realistic mirror, is dangerous. It is not wise to allow any one person to have the power to define (or redefine) us.

One of 104 Sculptures from my ArtObjex exhibit. If you are interested in seeing others, just click on this photo.

I know, as a “co-dependent” i often looked into my significant others eyes, to confirm or negate my “ok-ness”. If the mirror reflected approval, I was o.k. If the mirror reflected scorn, or even subtle hints of rejection or doubt, I was thrown into psychological crisis. My anchor was gone. I was (again) lost in the sea of self doubt and low self esteem.

We must maintain connection with ourselves, our community and our God to get and stay sane

At some point though, after being severely buffeted by years of cruel, needless shame and self recrimination, I was forced to take a stand. A line in the sand as it were. For me it was expressed in the words of my very first tattoo which declared, “No Fear, No Shame. In Jesus Name, Free To Love.”

In a recent conversation with my 22 year old son Isaac, he mentioned that, “he was only as strong as the men he was standing besides”. I don’t believe I can stand alone in my declaration to love myself. Neither will I allow any one person to ever define who I am. Raw independence doesn’t work. That epitomizes arrogance, narcissism and grandiosity. Pathological dependency and pathetic neediness sucks too. Reflected in someone who is afraid to act and live out their own unique identity.

The issue, I believe, is a spiritual one (I don’t mean religious!). We (me) must cultivate a dynamic daily connection with ourselves, our chosen community and our the God of our understanding. Two out of three won’t work. We must have all three legs of the chair… to avoid continually picking ourselves off the ground after painful falls.




4 responses

26 01 2011

I totally agree. And I love the simplicity of connection to ourselves, our chosen tribe and our Higher Power.

7 02 2011
math games


12 02 2011
Positive Praise for your Child’s Pride | Guide To Child Behavior

[…] Determining a realistic sense of self worth, in spite of … […]

17 02 2011
Robert Thompson

I got 4 kids myself. I think one of the best “gifts” i can give them, is to try to develop (or repair) my own sense of self esteem.

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