Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again, that I am a nobody.” -Henri Nouwen
You are somebody. You are lovable. You are worthwhile and you belong here just as much as any other human being who’s ever walked the face of this planet.
How I wish that I had heard more words such as these as I was growing up. If I had, then I probably wouldn’t have spent so much of my life feeling completely unloved and unlovable. I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve been able to make my way through this problem fairly well, though the feelings of being unlovable still haunt me from time to time. Perhaps I’ve been lucky because I’ve never seen success, popularity, or power as true solutions to my problem–these aspects of life never have held any sort of magic for me. I’ve always known inside that success is what I determine it to be on my own terms, that power is a fleeting illusion, and that popularity is pretty useless–the “popular” people that I’ve known are usually among the least happy of all the people I’ve known.
My good fortune has come in my ability to see my own value–to accept it completely and not to doubt it. I value my thoughts and my ideas, for I know they tend to be pretty good. I value my opinions because I know that I don’t take them lightly and come up with them off the cuff.
I also follow a very simple rule: if this person is rude or unjust enough to want to hurt me by insulting me or rejecting me, then that person isn’t someone who I want affecting the way I feel about myself. I love honest, constructive criticism, but I have no tolerance for blind, thoughtless criticism that’s given in a spirit of meanness. I’ve been through enough in life–I’m not going to make myself miserable just because someone else is mean-spirited and wants to make a victim of me.
You are valuable. You are a beautiful work of art. You should never, ever reject yourself, for you are the best friend you’ll ever have. Be true to yourself, and love the person you are. You deserve it.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of things make you want to reject yourself?
What kinds of things make you feel much better about yourself?
Which of these things do you actively search out on a regular basis?
For further thought:
Self-esteem stems from positive beliefs about yourself; it does not depend upon the approval of another person. -Anonymous