Can you know your self-worth?

Can you know your self-worth?

A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others Dostoevsky, philosopher & novelist (1821-1881). How does that play in a ‘post-truth era’? What does it mean for bosses, bishops and presidents? How do we transmit its message to our children and to those we love? If ignored, what will be the consequences for the next generation?

Can you put a value on your self-respect? Is there some moment of your life when you think about your own worth? I’m not talking about money or material assets but about those times when you wish you were a bit more of a whole person. We all have times like that, perhaps before we sleep or when we awake, maybe when we attend a ceremony celebrating someone else’s joys or sorrows. ‘Am I who I want to be?’ we ask ourselves, often ignoring the answer that starts to creep into our minds.

Most people are brought up to believe in cultivating self-worth. ‘Handle yourself before you try to handle others’ is a basic tenet of parenting, teaching and mentoring. All of us have moments of shame when we have lost our self-respect. The depth of that shame will probably reflect what we were taught was right and wrong as children. Some of that will be misleading – appallingly so on occasion. Mostly we will have consciences formed in a reasonable way though we often batter them into a distortion later on.

More happiness is attributable to high personal self-esteem than any other single factor. The corollary is also true. Those who lack self-worth become mean-spirited with themselves. They don’t know how to forgive themselves the things they do wrong and instead try to forget their bad behaviour. That doesn’t make it go away. It merely puts it in a crowded store cupboard to fester and rot. It rots the spirit as it rots itself.

Life is full of paradoxes. One of the greatest is the way we deal with self-worth. Gazing at our navel doesn’t work. It proves irritating and requires constant scratching. We build a character to admire when we turn away from ourselves and look at how we can benefit others. That benefit isn’t in cash but in time. When we devote time to someone we give them real value.

Self-worth isn’t a formula. It cannot be practised as a checklist. There are some basic rules that start the process of re-engaging your self-worth. They are simple but effective.

Start by knowing who you want to be. You can’t normally do this until you are in your early twenties. Up to then is experiment time. By 25 you should have a purpose.

Don’t treat your purpose / goal / objective as fixed. The goal posts move; we have to move with them. But we do need some stability in our lives or they become intolerable to us. A sensible flexibility has been the rock of most successful people’s lives.

Recognise failure as a lesson not a disaster. Great innovators know that they learn more from their failures than from their successes.

Seek help when you need it. Most people are obliging and helpful when asked. If your eyes are firmly on the needs of others, their help is a right as well as a privilege.

Read The Alf Tuck Story if you haven’t already done so. It steered my self-worth all my life.

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