If there’s one thing that unites us all, it’s that we all suffer. We all triumph. We face obstacles in our lives and encounter things that throw us off our course and challenge our inner strength. That’s life, with the lesson often seen in retrospect. Without the difficult times, there would be no great times. Everything would just seem flat and uneventful, plain and boring.
There would be no impactful change without struggle. The beauty of life is overcoming what we think we cannot. Our self-esteem grows and we find strength in ourselves that we never knew existed.
This very point had me thinking about various struggles that I’ve been through in my life thus far. I remember focusing mostly on the negative aspects of the situation. How badly I felt, how crappy the situation was, and how much I didn’t think things would ever change. Blah, blah, blah. It’s a vicious cycle.
But what if we focus on how our struggles change us and our lives for the better?
Ask yourself, would it be possible to improve negative situations, if we thought about how we might benefit from them and turn those negatives into positives ?
Think about it.
Your self worth is a function of how you value yourself. To build your self worth you must first discover your values and then make up your own definition of success. Your values are nothing more than what you value in life. You probably already know that society places excessive value on the outward appearances of success, such as money, material possessions, physical appearance, marital status, career and so on. In contrast, little consideration is ever given to the loftier values of a person, such as love, integrity, kindness, emotional intelligence, forgiveness and inner balance, when defining one’s success. This means that we have a warped definition of success based largely on outward appearances, which really results in a warped sense of self worth.
Discover How You Value Yourself: You are likely to find that specific outward appearances automatically trigger a need within you to “compare yourself to others” whether it is how much money someone else has or is making, how physically attractive they are, their relationship status or what material possessions they own and so on. Dig a little deeper and you will find that you have unwittingly placed an undue value on these outward appearances and are using them to determine your own self worth. In other words, how much money you have, how attractive you are and so on, have become the determining function of your self worth, and usually in isolation of all your other qualities and achievements. Such specific comparisons leave you temporarily feeling either better or worse about yourself, depending on where you ranked yourself on society’s scale of success.
The Relative Nature of Outward Appearances: Take a moment and make a list of all those outward appearances that you have inadvertently made the yardstick of your inner self worth. See how all these things on your list actually require you to compare yourself to others or to seek outside approval in order to determine your self value or “how well you are doing”. In other words, you can never really gauge how much money you have if you do not compare it to someone else’s bank account, or how attractive you are if you do not compare yourself to someone else’s looks.
The Changeability of Outward Appearances: Outward appearances are highly subject to change. A multi-millionaire can find himself bankrupt overnight and the beggar can find himself a millionaire. There are no absolutes in outward appearances. The problem with this is, that if you are using such changeable things to define your self worth, then you are left aiming at an always-moving target because there will always be someone richer, more attractive, more materially successful than you. It can be no other way in the physical world of the relatives.
The Illusory Nature of Outward Appearances: The undue value that society places on outward appearances is fueled by the ignorance that everything we experience in the outward physical world has its origin in the inner mental world. This means, that all outward appearances are just that – appearances – or illusions if you prefer. This does not mean that they are not physically “real”. It simply means that the appearances that you cling to so dearly and that you use to judge your own worth relative to that of others, are really just products of the most powerful resource of all – your mind- and are hence subject to change through your mind’s activity i.e. your thoughts. It is your thoughts that create your circumstances and hence your thoughts that can change them. Comparing yourself to others simply keeps your thoughts focused on the very circumstances that you most likely want to change and, by the, Law of Attraction you create more of the same.
Re-Defining Success: Now that you can see how misguided the stereo-typical definition of success is (being based on outward appearances), you can write down a new definition of success based on those virtues and qualities on your second list. One of the most well-known definitions of success has to be that of Ralph Waldo Emerson. This is what he had to say about success: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Make Outer Appearances a Choice, Not Your Yardstick: Your new definition of success does not mean that you throw out the old one. It simply means that those outer appearances by which society defines success, no longer define you. They no longer add to or subtract from your self worth in any way. Your worth is independent of them. Of course you are still free to pursue a rewarding career, to make as much money as you want, to make yourself look your best, and to acquire all those material things you may want. The difference lies in why you are doing so. And the answer is because you choose to, not because you have to in order to feel better about yourself compared to others. Paradoxically, you will find that when those outer appearances that you once so desperately pursued no longer define you, that they will flow freely towards you.
Others as a Source of Inspiration: Interestingly, you will find that even if someone else displays more of a specific virtue that you admire than you do, that it brings out a sense of greater love and admiration for that person, rather than a sense of jealousy and insecurity. While comparing yourself in any way is unnecessary, you can look to those people who display the qualities you admire most, as a source of inspiration to become a more successful person yourself based on your definition of success.
There is No Competition in Real Self worth: There is seldom a prize or career promotion for the kindest person in the office or for the person with the greatest integrity. You will find that people do not compete to see who is the kindest, or who is the most loving, or who is the most self-assured. This is because man’s loftiest virtues belong to his higher self. Your higher self is above the opposites of the physical world and those outer appearances that society stereo-typically uses to define success. Your higher self is above the need to compare, not because it cannot compare but because it knows that doing so is futile. Man’s highest virtues are fundamental to the human spirit and can not be bought or sold for all the money in the world.
Remember that REAL self worth is PRICELESS.