How do you judge your self-worth?

It’s an interesting question isn’t it? Furthermore, how do you judge others, your friends and family for example? I’m writing this to pose the question, not to propose an answer.  In fact, I’d actually suggest that you stop reading this now and have a think about this before you read any more. Seriously.

I was asked this just a few days ago. Of course, it’s something I think about a lot from different perspectives. Self-belief is at the heart of my thought system, if you could call it that. Initially though I found it surprisingly difficult to define except from the most abstract level. But then I thought about how I judge the worth of people around me. What was interesting was that most of the characteristics had nothing to with achievement or career, and everything about character. I thought of traits like kindness, forgiveness and loyalty, about moral courage and strength. These are aspects of character that are also easy to both like and admire. But does their absence or presence determine one’s actual worth? Does it make their life any more sacred than another? Once again this is an open question, no points or penalties for being right or wrong here?

About twenty years ago, I formed the opinion that everyone and everything is in a constant yet constantly changing form of perfection, that we can only ever be what we are in this moment, however ignorant or foolish or amazing that might be, based on the fact that we have lived our particular experience with our particular perspective that has been influenced in unique ways since the moment we were born and probably long before. It’s a rationale that demands, often against superficial likes and dislikes, that I honour and respect everyone, including myself. Most of all it demands acceptance of people and conditions as they are. You might want to change the world, but it’s actually essential to be able to accept the way things are exactly as they are before you can do so. Usually, it’s in this clear mindset that we see the seeds of growth, the bud of the lotus, in the present conditions.

In all honesty, it can be hard, very hard indeed to find let alone inhabit this mindset, especially if some part of your life isn’t the way you want it to be. Anyone can be nice, generous and forgiving if they’re having a great day, when conditions meet their demands. But learning to accept and value our own and each other’s worth when things are difficult is what makes things interesting.

13 thoughts on “How do you judge your self-worth?

  1. a very good question James. when I took a pause to reflect upon the question a new question arose: how do I value myself? or how do I value another? How do I value a thing?
    This leads me to: how do I appreciate something? I quess I appreciate something by seeing the value in it. The mother of one of my teachers once said that she always looks for something in someone to appriciate. And that she always finds something. So maybe judg

    • … so maybe judging my selfworth needs clear seeing. And in clear seeing we can always take an effort in going beyond our personal storylines. And perhaps we can drop our storylines by stopping to judge and starting to value…

      bye my friend

  2. I agree completely. I tend to conflate the question of self-worth and value. Going from the universal to the particular there are always qualities, dimensions, traits which we can appreciate if we are willing to open our eyes and our hearts and see clearly as you say. Usually it’s just our stories, about the other and ourselves, our biases that get in the way, like blinkers on a horse, sometimes even blocking out whole societies. Ironically then, in order to appreciate the value of an individual, including myself, we sometimes have to strip them of all tags of identification first – name, religion, nationality etc. until they are just man, woman, father, son, human. We have to let go of that implicit assumption that we and only we are normal – or ‘It’ rather than ‘Other’ – in any absolute sense. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes from this starting point we can begin to appreciate each other’s difference from one another simply as our responses to grappling with the questions and challenges that arise with being alive as best we can with what we have. So an open heart and mind are the perfect complement to open eyes.

  3. Pingback: 4:56 am. And, Inspired… – Lead.Learn.Live.

  4. Pingback: 4:56 am. And, Inspired… – Lead.Learn.Live.

  5. Everything, everyone is perfect and in the process of constantly changing. So true. I realize that by trying to see the perfection in everything as it is, I can allow myself to see and accept my own imperfections.

  6. So true. You speak here of acceptance. We really can’t change ‘what is’ if we deny it because we find it unacceptable. Once we can accept ‘what is’ we can change it. If you move into a house with a purple room and despise purple so much that you convince yourself that it is not purple, you won’t change it. On the other hand, if you accept that the room is purple, you may paint it. Thank you for sharing this great post.

  7. Acceptance is interesting yet tricky stuff I think. Often we rationalize our behaviour by saying we accept ourselves. Often it means we want to keep doing what we are doing. Often it means we don’t want to try new behaviour. And even more often we want others to accept our silly ways. Just listen to friends who say that are accepting themselves. Try to find out what they are actually saying.

    As a species we resist anything that may cause us to feel uncomfortable. How many friends do you have that say “could you tell me more about that?” when you share something that distresses them? How often do we open up when someone says something that distresses us?

    Another way of looking at “acceptance” is looking at it’s opposite; resistance. If we resist something we are in conflict. And it seems we have a lot of conflict in the world right now. Conflicts with other people, other situations and conflicts in ourselves. Conflicts in ourselves often means we have feelings that we don’t like to have. And that we don’t like to to take a look at.

    We might not be able to accept somethings. But we can stop to resist. And we can start to have a more truthful relationship we ourselves and others. And the term “being with” might be a more accurate term for the thing acceptance point to. And I know for myself how difficult it sometimes is to “be with” feelings that I don’t like so much. Being with also implies not-knowing where it will go and be open for possibillities. Acceptance can be a way of closing down. It can be a way of not looking anymore but having a conclusion.

    Does this makes sense? Anyway enjoying these conversations…

    • Thanks Coen, for your great comments. I completely understand what you mean. The phrasing of ‘being with’ or ‘sitting with’ is precisely what I am talking about and I use it myself sometimes. Acceptance is just the word that stood out for me when I started this journey some 20 years ago. It does carry a range of meanings and implications, and usually when I’m using it the challenge isn’t in not changing, but being more accepting of myself and my conditions amidst change. To be continued..

  8. yes James, I know you know this difference in acceptance and being-with. Acceptance in it’s true meaning can have such a beautiful quality. I feel you can also see it in people. I sometimes see it in clients that I haven’t seen for a while. Suddenly there seems to be a shift, a new softness. And when I ask these clients they often say that they are more accepting of themselves. That they are less fighting. That they are more at ease with the situation, their condition, and themselves. And from this perspective of more accepting they also seem to value themselves more. But the latter takes more time I guess. Maybe to value oneself or to value our lives might even take a lifetime…
    And our comments of open eyes, open mind and open heart might guide that a little.

    • This is an excellent talk, I can relate very well to this indeed as I’m sure many can – both the experience of the destruction of this illusory self and those experiences of going beyond self (Argentinian Tango and skiing in my case, among other things). Thankyou very much indeed for sharing it here.

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