Self-esteem is simply your confidence in your personal worth and abilities. It is self-respect. It has to do with the regard you have for yourself and your dignity. It’s the value you attach to yourself.
My question to you this morning is, how much value do you attach to yourself? What’s your personal worth in your estimation? How do you see yourself, how do you rank yourself relatively within your community and society? What would you accept, tolerate or condone? What would you reject, ignore or rise above? Do you have a clear understanding of your personal worth? Do you determine your worth or allow the society determine it for you?
Dear friends, everyone is born with a reasonable degree of self-respect and confidence. However, our upbringing, nurture and negative experiences may to a large extent damage these confidence levels. Things people said to us, our past errors and mistakes, our bad choices and consequences and even coming from a background of poverty, scarcity and lack can actually deal a bad blow on our personal self-worth and esteem.
Many of us growing up may have been told by close friends, relatives, community and family leaders, siblings and even parents that we would never amount to anything great. Many of us may have been cheated, robbed and maltreated by more powerful persons in time past because we lacked money, influence and power. Many of us may have been denied justice by persons and institutions including our care givers, guardians, lecturers, employers, powerful clients and customers, law enforcement agencies, the justice department, community rulers, elders in the family and even parents because in their opinion and by their judgement, we were not of worth, influence or importance to them and the so called more important persons and conditions were favoured and prioritised unfairly.
This experience consequently may have affected the way we see ourselves, rated ourselves and valued ourselves, we perhaps began to believe what the people said and consider how we were treated, then we began to react in different ways.
Some of us accepted the bad label of unworthiness and lowliness and we began to act accordingly. We developed a beggarly mentality, we cease to see ourselves as having the capacity to amount to anything important and worthwhile in life and we embraced a servitude disposition and relationship style with anyone we see as superior. We always beg everyone for money, do little favours for tips, hail the rich and influential for handouts and become sudden praise singers of the so called rich and powerful just to get something from them.
Sometimes, we subscribe to the ideology of destiny that God has destined some people to be successful and for us to be at their mercy. We accept low self-worth and insignificance as our life type.
However, another reaction to a battered self-esteem is the fight. Some decide in their minds to fight that situation and condition. They become angry at how the society sees them, rates them and has treated them thus far, and they resolve with so much determination to become successful and prove to everyone that they can become important and successful too.
These kind of people then begin to work very hard on the outside, making great sacrifices and paying the price for great success and accomplishments. The desire to prove to everyone they are not to be disrespected and downtrodden keeps driving them to do all they can to become rich and successful.
Consequently, they succeed, they attain that status in the society and become rich as well. But afterwards, something interesting happens, they realise the money and the power has not really helped their low self-esteem. Yes, they now have the money and the influence but they still feel low, inadequate and inferior. Ladies and gentlemen, riches and success is not the answer or antidote for low self-esteem.
Many who become rich and successful but still suffer from low self-esteem subsequently begin to feel like imposters. They have the money but don’t feel rich, they have the position and power but don’t feel influential. They feel like imposters, they feel they are managing things and occupying positions they are not entitled to. And somewhere in their minds, they feel the need to keep reassuring themselves and everyone around that they are in charge.
Instead of the money and powerful position to help their low self-esteem, it actually compounds their frustration.
Many of them begin to realise expensive things only remain attractive and exciting before you acquire, once you buy it, it becomes quite ordinary, like every other thing you own – it doesn’t really satisfy. For example, the latest exotic car becomes just another car in the collection a few weeks after purchase. The thrill is gone, the excitement is over. Even compliments from admirers after a while becomes meaningless.
The faulty assumption that with money and power everyone must respect and adore you is eventually confirmed as an illusion, as you’ll soon realise the only people that would think much of you, value and respect you are those who need you or benefit from you. No matter how important you are, other road users, commercial drivers and even street hawkers would insult you, disrespect you and even harass you if you don’t respect yourself. Many of them don’t care who you think you are, if they don’t need you they don’t think much of you. Laughs.
Consequently, many of such people are quick to declare and announce their success, wealth and accomplishment to the world. A little argument with a stranger and the next statement from them is ‘do you know who I am? Hmm, imposter, not original.
A third category are those whom when they come into great wealth and power, abuse it, misuse it and fail to appropriate it effectively. Why? They feel they are not entitled to it, they feel like illegitimate users of wealth and power, they carry this sense of unworthiness and subsequently become wasteful or even disconnect from what they have and own. Some are so rich yet can’t buy good clothes, some can afford to fly first class yet are comfortable travelling for hours in luxurious buses; some have brand new cars but feel psychologically more at home in public transport. There is a psychological attachment to lack, mediocrity, low quality and low life. They can’t mentally handle greatness, they are so uncomfortable with riches and wealth.
Dear friends, low self-esteem or self-worth cannot be addressed from achievements and accomplishments. It’s not about what you have but more of who you are. It’s really about knowing yourself, accepting yourself and loving yourself. If you love you the way you are and accept you the way you are, no one can damage your self-esteem.
A great self-esteem comes from also identifying your place and purpose in this world, keying in it and excelling in it. If you know yourself and love yourself, if you know your place and purpose and remain there, you will naturally have a great self-esteem.
Beyoncé cannot intimidate Serena Williams and Serena Williams cannot intimidate Beyoncé. President Obama cannot intimidate Bill Gates and Bill Gates cannot intimidate president Obama. Everyone in their place. Great self-esteem is yours when you know your place, love your place, love yourself and embrace your place.
Self-esteem is not about how people treat you or what they say to you, it’s not also about what you have, it’s actually about knowing and loving who you are. Stay in love with you, don’t feel like an imposter.