Oktoberfest episode number 27. Self-worth or self-esteem.

Oktoberfest episode number 26. Self-worth or self-esteem.

Last month I covered in this blog 100 things I wish my dad had taught me. But there is one single stand out amongst all of the things I wish I knew as a 15-year-old boy and that is the difference between self-worth and self-esteem.

And when I look back on the years of my childhood there was nothing to suggest that my self-worth should be any more than a mosquito. My sister bravely rejected the family tradition of low self-worth and violently post every circumstance that would diminish her to the level the family considered to be normal. My younger brother was more compliant with the low self esteem and and decided to use talent to accumulate asset and success to validate himself. Consequently, my sister became a powerful actor with her own television show and then one of the world’s leading barristers. My brother became CEO of one of the largest advertising firms in the world, started his own businesses, and continues to be an amazing success story in the world. All of this, based on the fact that our family heritage was low self-worth and to put ourselves down was a family inheritance.

Alcoholism is rife amongst my family history. People with low self-worth, attempt to placate the downside of self-esteem with alcohol while pumping themselves up in public. This seesaw emotional rollercoasters pursuing self-esteem for many people with low self worth creates a dependency on the opinions of others.

Low self-worth drives an appetite for high self-esteem. And high self-esteem can substitute for low self-worth as long as the individual can ride the rollercoaster of low self esteem which is the counterbalance. We all have a public and private persona, and therefore we all have high and low self-esteem. That is not the point of this article.

The point of this particle is the centrepoint around which high and low self-esteem vacillate. That centrepoint around which high and low self-esteem vacillates is called self-worth.

Another word for high self-esteem is the rather rudely labelled, American hype. The fist pumping champagne popping high-fiving celebrations of victory for success what is the most common external evidence of a person in a state of high self-esteem. They feel elated. Nobody is going to deny a person the right to celebrate. But in awarding people the right to celebrate we also award them the right to commiserate, feel down when things don’t go their way. That is the reward and benefit and negative feedback from self-esteem.

All the eastern teachings discourage this behaviour toward self-esteem because it is so transient. All the eastern teachings are focused on self-worth. Self-worth does not change whether you win the lottery or lose your left leg. Whether the sun rises in the east or in the west it doesn’t matter to your self worth.

The acid test of your self worth is what you would feel like if you lost things. For example, ask yourself how you would feel tomorrow if all your finances were stolen and you were left penniless in the world? Would you still feel good about yourself? If the answer is no then you are probably using money to build yourself esteem and therefore are vulnerable to the fluctuations in your wealth as to your performance in life.

Another acid test of whether you are using self-worth or self-esteem to project yourself into the world is to imagine if you were no longer with your partner. Imagine for a moment they packed their bag with the kids and left you sitting in your big house with nobody in it. If your reaction to this would be complete depression and absolute reaction then you can once again suggest that you are using family to build your self-esteem rather than Project and respect yourself based on your self worth.

We all have self-esteem and self worth. Even with very low self-worth we can have very high self-esteem if we are able to attach ourselves to things we would call up. Now those things can be quite different for different people. And for example a person at work might see the approval of their boss and the subsequent bonus at the end of the year for reward as some measure of themselves therefore be using a boss and their opinion to build their self esteem. That individual will also complain bitterly if they get criticised.

Another person might go to the horse races and through research of horse performances gamble money and celebrate with their friends when they win the trifecta. But this individual will also being incredibly miserable if they get it wrong. In this case the individual has attach their self-esteem to their prowess in selecting horses and the measure of it is seen in gambling. If an individual has high self-worth they will react pretty much the same whether they win or lose. They do not attach themselves to the success or failure of the gambling.

While my sister chose wisely to become an actor and a barrister in order to rise out of the low environment of low self-worth our family inherited, and my brother chose wisely to use assets and success to build his self worth out of the gutter, I chose sport.

You can put knowledge in the bank and become a good barrister, you can put money in the bank and become a successful business person, but sport trophies are only as good as your last game. So I chose something that had an extreme volatility in it in order to validate myself. Certainly my dyslexia inhibited my academic achievements, and my obsession, you can call it that, with finding my independence in the world, sent me on a journey looking for self-worth but not understanding the difference between self-esteem and self worth.

When we pursue self-esteem and do not hit target one reaction we can have is anger. It’s absolute frustration that what we attempted to achieve didn’t work. Very quickly I decided that team sports were not my game because it relied on other people to achieve outcomes and I was always the most dedicated or so I thought. I trained the hardest and practiced more than anybody in any team I’ve ever been in. Again, low self-worth and the insecurity it creates, made me feel that if I didn’t train and practice my arse off I would let people down. So for the majority of my early sporting career I over trained and underperformed.

And the anger from the pursuit of high self-esteem and the constant reminders of the fluctuation in sporting achievements turned into antidisestablishmentarianism. That’s the longest word in the English dictionary, or was, and it means against the establishment of the establishment of the establishment. Simply put I was angry at the world. I took this anger out as a car thief, and numerous (too numerous to mention) interactions with the law. Lucky for me, but unlucky for those that I collaborated with all of them had also low self-esteem issues, five of my friends were either dead or permanently in hospital as a result of our misdemeanours. And so I changed my path.

The ongoing stories of where I went to pursue high self-esteem are the stories of my life. They are stories of incredible highs and incredible lows. In an incredible series of success and failures, of attachments and having those attachments broken. It is a pain and pleasure story. And it is quite a unique story because the more pain I experienced from low self-esteem the more I tried to achieve high self-esteem by attaching myself to another pursuit, another sport, another business, another relationship.

All of this happened even though I was going to yoga retreats, attending Zen meditations, learning all about eastern philosophy in the Himalayas of Nepal, I still based my entire pursuit of life on the achievement of high self-esteem and he attempt, foolishly, to eradicate the downside of it.

And now, 25 years later from that ping-pong journey, whether it is age or wisdom I cannot say but for the past 25 years I have fully embraced the concept of self-worth. I recognise that the entire journey has grown my self-worth from that of a mosquito to at least or a frog. Great progress I feel.

And so the number of books we’ve written, the number of times I’ve climbed a mountain, the amount of time I’ve spent in same retreats or yoga postures, the amount of money I have in the bank or the amount of goodness I’ve shared with the world, can all be taken away, and therefore are perfect reflections of my self-esteem. But there is another metric. Self-worth.

And I truly believe that I have distilled the formula for building self-worth.

If you would like to know what that formula is please ask me in your coaching session today.

That is the end of this episode. Live with spirit. Chris

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