I was recently contemplating the amount of anxiety that we cause ourselves as humans just by looking outside of ourselves for self-worth. It's tricky, because as a society of people, we’ve made our self-esteem dependent on a hundred million things: from our net worth to our waistband to our relationships.
When our self-esteem is based on what our bosses, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbours, and even people we don’t talk to on the train might think of us, no wonder we feel overwhelmed. How can we control the thoughts of all of those people? How can we simultaneously be the best wife/husband, daughter, employee, health buff and mindful spiritual aspirant all at the same time?
And if one of those people doesn’t like us, or we’re not the best at one of those things – where are we left? Probably with a chink in our self-esteem that seems will only be addressed when the ‘bestness’ is reinstated. But with all the pressures to please people and be good enough, bestness being reinstated is less likely than the weight of all that pressure caving in on us. Exhaustion, sadness, and a crumpled and dusty self-image can be the results of gut-busting effort. No matter how hard we seem to try, we ‘just can’t get it right’.
But what if our self-esteem came from within? What if it wasn’t dependant on what anyone else thought or how well we did? What if we loved ourselves even if we were sad, angry, stressed or unreasonable? What if we trusted that we were doing our best and were good of heart even if people might misinterpret or judge us? What if we believed we were inherently valuable, loveable and worthwhile?
We would become a wellspring of resource. We would be equipped with an inner robustness. We would be so much more able to be kind, because we would be being kind to ourselves. We would be less exhausted and would have more energy to pour into our passions and projects- and in fact, we would attain more fulfilling success for less effort. We would be less distracted by trying to please everyone and thus could spend time being really present and connected with the people we love. We would be gracefully authentic – a font of love in the world.
And not only would we ourselves be happier; the ripple effects would be phenomenal. Our kids would have role-models whose self-compassion and kindness generated happiness and success. Our kindness would be felt by our colleagues and peers – who may begin to feel slightly better about themselves just because of the extra warmth in their day. As more and more people begin to live this way, the structures of our society would lift. The emotional environments of schools, hospitals and governments would transform. How far can we take it? Wherever it goes, it starts with us.
Give yourself some unconditional approval today. I promise you are worth it!