Just recently, a renowned Swahili newscaster with one of the leading local TV stations came out in the open in a no hold barred interview to talk about her struggle with low self-esteem. This led the feisty anchor to attempt suicide, not once, not twice, but thrice. Looking at her, one wondered what she lacked: she is beautiful, no doubt, and to top it up, has the money and fame. What more would one want? You ask. The anchor, who is a single mum to a nine-year-old boy, revealed that her struggle with low self-esteem made her question her parenting as she felt inadequate to bring up her son.
The eloquent news anchor has since made peace with herself especially after profound soul searching and going deep into God’s word and presently walks head held high since her low self-esteem is now a thing of the past. “I came to a place where I started believing that God knows me and started telling myself that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. Every day is a continuous process and right now I believe in who God says I am,” admitted the newscaster as she shed tears during the emotional interview.
Suffice to say that the anchor is not alone in fighting this monster. There are millions in the world who look at the person in the mirror and see someone they abhor. Instead of seeing the good qualities they have, all they see are failures, flaws and faults. More often, this leads them to a path of self-destruction. It is thus imperative that we cultivate a sense of self-worth within us.
We live in an incredibly competitive world and it is unfortunate that our self-worth is battered and bruised at every turn. We need to come to terms with the fact that there will always be someone who is smarter, more good looking, or more successful than us since it is impossible for all of us to be the same – and that is the beauty of life. But how do we counter this? Simple, through looking positively at ourselves; what is referred to as self-worth.
In quintessence, self-worth is a function of how you value yourself. It goes beyond external actions and more into one’s inherent worth as a person. The problem with today’s society is that we struggle to measure ourselves against others rather than paying attention to our intrinsic values with not so good results. There is empirical evidence that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health.
One study at the University of Michigan in the US found that college students who based their self-worth on external sources (including academic performance, appearance and approval from others) reported more stress, anger, academic problems and relationship conflicts. They also had higher levels of alcohol and drug use, as well as more symptoms of eating disorders. The same study found that students who based their self-worth on internal sources, not only felt better, but also received higher grades and were less likely to use drugs and alcohol or to develop eating disorders.
How, pray tell, do we then build self-worth? The first step is to stop comparing yourself with others as this leaves you temporarily feeling either better or worse about yourself, depending on where you ranked yourself on society’s scale of success. Self-worth can also be fostered through self-compassion where you treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion as you would a friend. Engaging in things that you love and helping others are also known to be boosters of self-worth. Also, develop a set of principles that you believe in and act in line with them.
Additionally, embrace your unique qualities and talents while limiting the time you spend with naysayers and instead surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you. That way, you will feel much happier and better about yourself.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalms 139:14 (NIV)
Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.
Wayne Dyer (1940) American Psychologist
I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?
Soledad O’Brien (1966) American journalist
We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.
Malcolm X (1925-1965), American Muslim minister and a human rights activist.
Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect and attention that you should be showing yourself.
Each and every individual should know his or her self-worth and at no single time should they let anyone or anything compromise that.
Leo Etale, Marketer.