Guest post by Michelle Prince
Recently I saw an interesting news report about a famous model who decided to get her legs insured. Her legs were a highly marketable asset, so it was important to her and her modeling agency to make sure they would be protected against any potential injury or harm.
Her right leg was insured for $600,000, but her left leg was “only” insured for $500,000. A hundred thousand dollars is a big difference for the same set of legs! The reason for the price difference was because her left leg had a tiny scar on it. The insurance assessors felt that because of the scar, the left leg was not as “valuable” as her other leg.
I’m not in the insurance business or the modeling world, but it struck me as odd that someone’s legs could be insured. It seemed even stranger to me that one leg was worth less than the other because of a tiny scar.
If just her set of legs alone are worth $1,100,000, I wonder how much they think the rest of her is worth. And then, the big question:
Who is really qualified to determine the worth of an individual?
Obviously, this model has a healthy self-esteem to consider her legs so valuable—or at least her agent or business manager has provided this “value” for her in terms of dollars and cents.
What about you? If someone were to take out an insurance policy on you, how much would you be worth?
Of course I’m using this illustration as a metaphor. Obviously, we can’t place a price tag on our worth. This is just a way of demonstrating that whenever we measure ourselves against someone else’s standards, our “flaws” or “scars” immediately become apparent.
I’m sure many of you, like me, have “scars” that make us feel that our value is less than it should be. Maybe we’ve made mistakes, have been deeply hurt by someone, or have hurt someone ourselves.
It doesn’t make any difference whether our scars are physical or emotional; anything that varies from the accepted norm that is considered a “10” or “perfect” by The Professional Flaw-finder Crew can make us feel that we’re not good enough, nor worthy of success or happiness.
These “scars” may be so enormous in your eyes, they successfully hide the beauty within you—or, to put it another way, you are hiding your beauty behind those scars. When you hide behind a scar, your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors cover up that wonderful you.
These scars are not real and they are not “you.” They are just representations of the struggles you’ve gone through in life. However, it’s these struggles that provide the friction we talked about earlier. They are the grist for the mill that can motivate and inspire you to improve your life and change how you see yourself.
Your past challenges represent the strength and determination you demonstrated during those trying times, and your value as a human being is even more elevated because of those “battle scars.” They are marks of valor that show how far you’ve come, and how much stronger and wiser you are today, as a result of having met those challenges instead of running from them.
Our level of self-esteem depends on the value we give ourselves. Our self-worth depends on how we see ourselves—not through the eyes of someone else.
The Self-Esteem Barometer
If we allow our level of self-esteem to depend on circumstances, from one moment to the next it can soar upward or zoom down toward the lowest reading on our self-esteem barometer. Johnny just scored the winning goal in a soccer game, so he may have high self-esteem after the game. However, Johnny’s self-esteem may shoot downward if he can’t score any goals during the next game.
The objective of the larger game of life is to have high self-esteem readings all the time, regardless of our circumstances.
Some people make a distinction between self-esteem and self-worth. Self-esteem refers to the impression we have of ourselves based on performance and response to life’s challenges.
Our intrinsic value or self-worth, on the other hand, is a core value that simply is. It doesn’t depend on behavior or any type of character demonstration. It is who we are and who we were born to be. We have value, simply because we exist on the planet in physical form. Nothing can change or take this value away from us.
It’s easy to forget or ignore the wonderful you that was created for a specific purpose on this Earth. It’s easy to overlook the fact that you’re perfect just the way you are—and that whatever you label a “scar” is actually a medal of honor.
If we are perfect creations of God, then why do we feel so bad about ourselves?
The Big Self-Esteem Question
If one of your friends or co-workers made a mistake, would you berate this person by calling her an idiot or making her feel worse? Of course you wouldn’t. You know she’s only human, and we all make mistakes.
You’d likely tell her not to worry about it and console her to make her feel better.
Why then do we beat ourselves up over making the same mistakes? Why do we focus on our flaws and weaknesses? Why do we have so little compassion or understanding for ourselves? Why do we show respect and forgiveness toward others, but not to ourselves?
Check in with your self-esteem for the answer to these questions. Self-esteem affects every area of our lives.
Our barometer reading of self-esteem has a direct correlation to our projected levels of success. Why is this?
The first stop on the road to building self-esteem is self-love.
The ability to love, accept, forgive, and believe in ourselves plays a huge role in determining our level of self-esteem.
Our relationship with ourselves is the most important one we will ever have in our lives. It is more important than the relationship with our parents, spouse, or even our children. Our relationship with ourselves also affects all other relationships, so if you don’t love yourself, you won’t be able to love anyone else.
This statement bears repeating: If you don’t love yourself, you won’t be able to love anyone else.
Self-love and self-esteem are closely bonded to each other. When you don’t believe in your abilities, your value or your worth, your mind can’t respond in the opposite way. Your mind will go in the direction of your dominant thoughts. If you don’t feel good enough, you will likely live a life to confirm these beliefs.
If I asked you to list ten positive qualities about yourself, could you list all ten immediately? Or, would you get stuck after the third or fourth one? On the other hand, what if I asked you to list ten of your worst qualities, or things you don’t like about yourself? Do you think you could complete that list much faster? The fact is, most of us focus on what’s “wrong with us” rather than what’s “right about us.”
People who try to be the center of attention can sometimes have the lowest self-esteem. Because they need to feel accepted by others, they’re willing to forego their own self-acceptance. This is a heavy price to pay. Ultimately we learn that if we live to please others, there’s no way to be true to who we really are.
People with high self-esteem generally don’t feel the need to impress others or gain their approval. They feel okay just the way they are.
Those who struggle with low self-esteem and low self-worth also have the “not good enough” syndrome. They fear they won’t be accepted by others because they don’t qualify, so they spend most of their energy figuring out what other people want them to be. Then they try to become that type of person.
If they think they can only be accepted when they’re friendly or happy, then they do everything possible to make sure everyone knows how happy they are. You’ll never find these people complaining or admitting how they really feel. It’s always “Great!” “Wonderful!” “Couldn’t be better!”
Wearing a mask is strenuous; there’s always the chance of being found out, and eventually that’s what happens. When we’re not on our best behavior or guarding our emotions, the transparency leaks through.
You may know someone who seems to be good-natured all the time. He’s the kind of person you like to be around because he always has a positive attitude. Then one day you learn that he’s taken his life, or in a rage, he’s injured or killed others.
When you don’t know who you really are, you don’t know what you really want. All you know is what others want from you.
Consider the logic: How can you really be accepted if you don’t know who you are? How can anyone really like you if they don’t know the real you?
You’ve probably heard the well-known command from the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Its intent is to teach people how to treat others. Actually, this is another version of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Treat yourself well, or just as you would treat other people (and as you would want them to treat you). Ironically, many people interpret this wisdom by beginning with their neighbor and excluding themselves in the phrase, “Love your neighbor.” Period. What happened to “love yourself”?
We focus on the needs and desires of others. We give and we give, until finally we have nothing left but neglect for ourselves and our own needs. We jump through hoops to make other people happy—but at our own expense. The end result is the feeling of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and drained of any reserve energy to focus on our own wants and needs.
When traveling on an airplane with young children, adults are instructed that if it’s necessary to use the drop-down oxygen masks, to place air masks first on themselves, and then on their children. The logic behind this is to ensure that in the event of an emergency, the adult has enough oxygen to help the child. If the adult places the mask on the child first, there is a risk that the adult will run out of air and not be able to help themselves or the child. This would leave the child unable to fend for himself.
Is it selfish for the adult to place the mask on themselves first? No! It’s just being responsible.
Take care of your own needs and desires first in order to be able to take care of others. Love yourself first and then you have the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to love others.
Give yourself quiet time, exercise, challenging work, meetings with friends—anything that recharges you as a person. By acknowledging your needs, you acknowledge your self-worth. As with the parent and the oxygen mask on the plane, what do you have to give others, if you have neglected yourself?
Loving yourself means:
Thinking as highly of yourself as you think of friends or peers
- Celebrating your own strengths and achievements
- Forgiving yourself for your mistakes
- Focusing on what you can change, and not on what you can’t (You can’t change the past, but you can change the way you think about your past.)
- Comparing yourself to you, and not to others (“How am I doing?”)
- Setting up realistic expectations
- Accepting and learning from your mistakes
- Being open and assertive with what you need from others
- Accepting compliments from others gracefully
Pat yourself on the back. Be proud of who God created you to be. You are worthy because you were born. You are unique, special, and powerful.
Continue to help others. Continue to love those around you, but do so once you’ve loved yourself. If you are not physically, mentally, and emotionally full, you won’t have anything to give to anyone else. Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor!
Michelle Prince – Author of “Winning in Life Now…How to Break Through to a Happier You!”, and top life coach, is passionate about helping others to become more of who God created them to be. Michelle uses her unique experiences and down to earth style to give a refreshing look at how to achieve true success in life. Get ready for a breakthrough to find more happiness, develop the confidence to become all you were born to be, and live a life filled with purpose! To receive Michelle’s free mp3 audio, “Discover Your Purpose,” visit www.winninginlifenow.com.