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Self-Worth and Self-Esteem

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Because many people assume that self-esteem and self-worth mean the same thing, it seems important to note the distinctions between the two.

Self-worth (associated with self-respect) refers to your overall sense of value, worth, goodness, and deservedness. Your sense of worth can change over time based upon your actions. For example, my sense of self-worth has increased over time as I gradually learned to be a responsible, loving father and husband, and helped others through my writing and teaching.

Self-esteem (associated with self-confidence) refers to liking or feeling good about yourself, your appearance, or your abilities. Your sense of self-esteem may change moment to moment, based on appearance, abilities, or situation. For example, as an experienced gymnast, I felt high self-esteem (confidence) in the gym, but less self-esteem at parties or social gatherings. Many books offer advice on how to raise your self-esteem and feel better about yourself. Discover Your Worth, as you will see, addresses a deeper and more pervasive issue of your own intrinsic sense of value, goodness, morality, and deservedness.

The central theme of the first gateway is that you subconsciously choose or attract into your life those people and experiences you believe you deserve. In everyday life pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional - a by-product of poor choices.

Your sense of worth or deservedness shapes your life by creating tendencies. If you feel worthy and deserving, you tend to make productive choices. (“The world is my oyster.”) If you feel unworthy and undeserving, you tend to make destructive or limiting choices. (“Beggars can't be choosers.”)

At each and every crossroads you are free to choose the high road-by being kind to others, working hard, finding supportive partners, and following good role models. Or you may choose the low road-by burning your bridges, using drugs, or choosing destructive relationships. Your sense of self-worth tends to influence whether you choose to learn easy lessons or difficult ones, to strive or to struggle, to cave in to difficulties or rise above them.

Such choices determine your educational and income level, your health habits - even your longevity. Those of us with a strong sense of self-worth are less likely to get caught up in self-destructive habits with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, or the abuse of food.

Coming to appreciate your worth can, in some cases, dramatically improve your circumstances by changing the choices you make and the actions you take. And as you begin to treat yourself with more respect, other people begin to do the same, since we subconsciously “train” others how to treat us through messages we send through body language, tone of voice, and other subtle cues and behaviors. Discovering your innate worth and living from that place allows you to make more constructive choices-to choose the higher roads of life.

Since you are exploring this gateway, maybe now is the time for you to take stock, to reflect upon your own circumstances and sense of worth, and to determine if your life is working as well as you would like.

Are you now where you want to be?

Everyday Enlightenment:
The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth


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