Self-Esteem is Overrated
Self-Esteem seems like something everyone wants more of. A higher self-esteem, more self-esteem...we just want to feel better about ourselves. But what if we're missing the point? What if this whole time we're chasing after something that will never really make us feel better in the first place?
You see there's a glaring problem with self-esteem. It is predicated on the perception of others. You have high self-esteem when someone compliments you or you do well on something and your self-esteem can plummet if the opposite occurs. If you are able to maintain the "ideal" body or job then you can justify high self-esteem but deep down you might feel if those things were taken away you would not be able to maintain that outlook. This means our self-esteem ebbs and flows depending on the day and the moment and is that what we really want? Do we really want more of something that is so fickle?
So what should you seek after instead?
You see self-compassion allows us to accept ourselves, flaws and all. To seek change not because we have to but because we want too. To realize that we dont need validation from others to generate our own self-worth but instead find it ourselves and have the bravery to not be perfect.
We are all flawed. No one is perfect and we all know it. And yet, we feel the need to chase or portray perfection. We no longer allow ourselves, all the flaws and scars, to be okay. We realize that to be seen as valuable those can be no more. We chase after exterior validation to confirm that we are worthy of the space we occupy.
Isn't that exhausting?
Don't you wish, in this moment you could just be at peace with yourself? To accept your body, your life, your strengths AND your weaknesses. To not see them as negative but as neutral. To realize that they do not hold good or bad connotations...they just make up who we are. And we can change some of those things if we desire, but that has no affect on the compassion we choose to feel for ourselves through the whole process.
Instead of chasing after other's idea of beauty, success and happiness we decide it for ourselves because the reality of it is, that someone else's happiness will not be our own. The reality is that one day someone might agree and another might disagree...so where will you be then? Where will your esteem land then? Choose to show yourself compassion and respect so that when others agree or disagree you can still maintain a neutral idea about who you are, not better or worse because of their opinion.
When we can show compassion to ourselves we also can better show compassion to others. And maybe for you it is easier to show compassion to others but you hold a tight exception for yourself. Doesn't the double standard conflict with what you tell others?
Compassion is able to go both ways without giving people the excuse to not be better. You see when you choose to look at yourself with worth and compassion you WANT to take care of it, you want to honor it, you want to be better. But this is NOT because you feel that you will be better liked, loved or accepted because of it. You have just decided to find joy in who you are and what you want to become in that moment aside from others opinions.
Self-compassion can be hard to get too. We are taught from a young age to be validated for our actions and so it makes sense that our self-worth would come from our performance and perception of others rather than from the start feeling worthy and accepted. The road to self-compassion is a journey, you will have ups and downs and struggle to find a place where other's opinions do not weigh so heavily. So start by showing compassion to those around you. Encouraging them, accepting them as a human being and acknowledging that no matter where they came from or what they have gone through they still have worth, they still deserve compassion. Maybe over time that compassion will turn towards you. You will give yourself more grace to mess up, you will give yourself more freedom to be unique and maybe a little weird, you will allow yourself to just be who you are free from expectations.
The Japanese have an art style called Kintsugi, where chips and cracks in pottery were repaired with fine gold. Rather than seeing something as damaged, worth being thrown away, or even trying to invisibly fix it, they honored it for the broken and imperfect thing that it was. Feeling that these cracks enhanced the value.
I find this a truly beautiful expression of seeing the beauty in everyone and showing compassion to ourselves cracks and all. There is pure gold in our faults and if we can learn to accept those things we can move forward being the person we are meant to be. We aren't better or worse than before, but we have value to offer either way.
See yourself as these beautiful, cracked cups filled with pure gold. Show yourself some compassion and seek after a confidence that is not rooted in esteem but an acceptance of who you truly and deeply are.