What is required to feel good about yourself is not the same from person to person. What you require for self-esteem is not necessarily what another person requires. It is important to discover what makes you feel worthy, confident, and happy about who you are.
Self-respect at the highest levels comes from honoring your soul. This means speaking and acting from a level of integrity and honesty that reflects your higher self. It means standing by what you believe in (you do not, however, have to convince others to believe in it), and acting in a way that reflects your values. Many of you criticize others for not living up to a value system you consider right, but on closer examination you may not be living up to it yourself. You have seen the person who is always telling people how they should act, but he or she does anything he or she pleases. Self-respect means acting on your values and what you say you believe in.
Professing one set of values but acting from another leads to a lot of internal conflict. For instance, you may believe in monogamy deep inside, and yet the person you are with wants an open relationship. You decide to go along because you want to hold on to this partner. You believe in one set of values, but you are living by another, and there will be a lot of conflict and potential pain around this issue.
How can you know if the values you “think” you want to live by are yours? You often cannot know until you try. You might think that a good person gets up early in the morning, yet you always sleep late. Many of you have values you think you should live by but do not. The best thing to do is to try out these values — get up early in the morning for a while. Often, what you think are your values turn out to be “shoulds” given to you by others, and when you actually live them, you find they do not work for you. Ask yourself what you value. What do you think good people do? Are you following these values? It is difficult to feel good about yourself if you are living in a way that goes against your underlying values. It is important to examine your values and either live by them or change them.
Self-respect means coming from your power, not your weakness.
When you complain that someone or something is making you sad or angry, ask yourself, “Why am I choosing to experience that feeling or to react in that way?” Blaming others will always take away your power. If you can discover why you are choosing to feel hurt by other people’s actions, you will learn much about yourself. Some of you are afraid that if you stand up for yourself, you will lose someone’s love. Some people are quite good at convincing you that you are in the wrong when you do stand up for your beliefs. Thank them silently for providing you with the opportunity to become strong, for often strength is developed in the face of opposition. Self-respect means standing by your deepest truth and knowing your innermost feelings. It means making yourself and not another the authority of your feelings.
Some of you live or associate with people who belittle you and make you feel bad. You can end up focusing so much on their feelings that you lose track of your own. A woman was married to a man who constantly criticized many of her actions. She became so focused on his feelings that she never asked herself during all the years they were together how she felt about the way he treated her. She was always trying hard to please him, trying to anticipate his moods and whims in order to avoid his criticism. Yet everything she tried ended with him being angry or irritated at her. She began to feel she had failed or was in some way a bad person. She spent so many hours analyzing his feelings that she lost touch with her own. Many of you try to please people, and as you try to please them, you focus more on how they feel than how you feel.
Self-worth means paying attention to how you feel. You do not need reasons why you choose to do something. You do not need to prove anything to another person about your worth. Validate your feelings; do not analyze and question them. Do not go over and over them, asking, “Do I really have a reason to feel hurt?” Let your feelings be real for you and honor them. Many of you make other people the authority of what is good for you. When they say you are bad, you believe them. When they say things are your fault, you believe them. I am not suggesting that you ignore what other people say, either, but instead honor what you feel. It is one thing to be open to constructive criticism and another to constantly try to do what others want you to do when you do not want it for yourself. Creating self-esteem and self-worth involves honoring your own feelings and path and direction. It means honoring yourself with your words, actions, and behavior.
Self-esteem means believing in yourself, knowing that you did the best you knew how, even though two days later you might see a better way. It involves making yourself right rather than wrong and allowing yourself to feel good about who you are. Some of you try very hard all the time, pushing yourselves, rushing around and feeling that whatever you do, it is not enough. Trying and working hard to get things done is not necessarily the road to joy. Respect yourself by following your inner flow. Rest, play, think, and take time to be silent. Doing those things that nurture yourself are ways to increase your self-esteem.
Sanaya Roman, the author of Living with Joy, has channeled Orin for many years. Her books of his teachings have become perennial bestsellers. Visit her online at http://www.orindaben.com/.
Excerpted from the book Living with Joy © 2011 by Sanaya Roman. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com