From a very young age we develop our sense of self image and value through the feedback we receive from other people. Our parents bathe us with accolades to encourage us toward what they perceive as good behavior, as well as chastise and discipline us for falling short or getting out of line. Through this process we are trained to listen to the outside world and ingest this feedback to create our own self image. As we grow older, the cycle continues and we further quantify our pricetag of personal value and worth through the reflections offered by our friends, mates, family, bosses, co-workers and strangers. What we must ask ourselves, however, is whether we have given away too much power in this realm.
When a relationship falls short of our needs, wants and expectations, for example, what is our reaction? Do we tell ourselves that if we were worthy of better then we would be getting it? When we don't get the promotion or raise at work, do we simply say to ourselves that we must not have deserved it? When people don't listen to us, does this mean what we have to say isn't important? When a friend doesn't do cartwheels and rave about our latest creative endeavor does this mean that it will have no audience? When our mate doesn't tell us we are attractive regularly, does this mean we aren't attractive? Are we a different person this afternoon as we plunk around in our junker car than we were in the morning driving our drop top convertible just because we get less attention and head turns?
It is natural to incorporate the myriad feedback we get from the world and the people in it. It can actually be a very good way to sense when we are going in the right or wrong direction at times. What we must protect ourselves from, however, is yielding our "self-worth recipe" to the masses and not maintaining ourselves as the main ingredient. There is a voice inside of us that knows who we are and what we are made of, but if that voice is drowned out by the choir or peanut gallery, we have become lost to our own wisdom. Knowing our own value is like setting the tone for the movie...it is the soundtrack. If we can stay in touch with this and own it, we will be determining our self-worth from the INSIDE OUT as opposed to the OUTSIDE IN. To quote W. Somerset Maugham, "It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best you very often get it."
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