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Self Esteem

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Self Esteem?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Self Esteem

Depending on External Manifestations for Self-Esteem

In other words, one does not gain value from one’s accomplishments; these accomplishments are, rather, the expression of one’s self-existing value. When one depends on any external manifestations, such as performance, achievement, excellence, or anything, to feel a sense of value or love, then one has not yet personalized the essential aspect of value. To depend upon external manifestations for self esteem means one has to use one’s mind; one has to remember these accomplishments. But the value of Being is self-existing, is a presence independent of the mind, and of the past. This is not possible on the ego level, where self-esteem is always inferred from one’s manifestations and accomplishments, and always somewhat removed from one’s Beingness. This distance between one’s value and one’s Beingness becomes especially obvious in the case of the narcissistic personality. The narcissistic personality has no sense of value except from external approval, admiration, recognition, acceptance and appreciation. This need for such external mirroring is incessant and bottomless. One must keep performing and achieving in order to keep the narcissistic supplies flowing. So achievements are not expressions of who one is, but are pursued to give oneself significance and identity. One’s life, with all its activities and accomplishments, constitutes a shell that is empty and devoid of any sense of self or Being. In such a character, a momentary failure of or disidentification with one’s external achievements makes one feel that one’s life is empty and insignificant.

Effect of Disrespect on the Soul

Experientially, if as children we are regularly treated without much respect, we grow up feeling unworthy of respect and unable to have self-respect. Similarly, if our bodies or our minds were severely abused a few times, or horribly even once, the lasting impression might be just the same. The severity of the problem regarding respect depends on how frequently and how severely the soul encountered disrespect. This principle is true about both negative and positive impacts. If one experienced love frequently as a child, the lasting impression will be ease in the area of love. One then will relatively easily and frequently experience love, and be readily available to receive love.

Feeling Insecure in Our Sense of Ourselves

When we know what we want, and see that our desires authentically reflect who and what we are, our self-esteem improves, and we find ourselves enjoying truly human interactions. The more effortlessly secure we are in being ourselves, the more we can afford to open up to others, and the more we can naturally act with generosity and magnanimity. Then we are able to feel more in touch with our humanity, and more willing to be kind and sensitive to others; loving becomes a joy and giving a gift. However, the moment we feel insecure in our sense of ourselves, the moment we sense that we are not centered in what and who we are, this whole picture reverses. A heavy darkness descends on our experience; we cease to be open or generous, and we find ourselves forgetting our humanity. We begin to feel self-centered and self-conscious, and we become anxiously and egotistically concerned about ourselves. An obsessiveness over how we appear to others develops, and we find ourselves needing an unusual amount of admiration, approval, and recognition. Our self-esteem turns extremely fragile, and we find ourselves unusually vulnerable to feeling hurt and insulted over the slightest lack of understanding or empathy. Our sense of ourselves grows shaky and, rather than coming from within, depends upon feedback from others, making us defensive. Our actions and expressions tend to become false, inauthentic, and reactive, making it difficult to know what authentic action would really be. Without a spontaneous and free sense of who we are, we can only feel empty and unimportant; our lives will lack meaning or significance. Rather than experiencing a sense of value and esteem, we find ourselves feeling worthless and ashamed; rather than enjoying our interactions and activities, we find ourselves beset by anger, rage and envy; instead of being generous and magnanimous, we slide towards exploiting and devaluing others.

Self-Esteem is More than a Capacity for Relating

Only when the student is able to experience himself as the personal essence can we say that individuation narcissism has been transformed. This is a resolution of a spiritual nature. It is not only a matter of developing a sense of individuation with a capacity for relating with others. It is not only a matter of establishing a stable sense of autonomy with realistic self-esteem. It is a matter of fundamentally knowing oneself as an authentic presence of Being, which feels personal and human, and whose self-esteem springs from the fact that this presence is its own value.

Self-Esteem, When it is Real, is the Value of Essence

Let's take an example to show the distortion of perspective. The personality can think only of self-esteem as a result of something, usually a result of certain actions and successes. The self-esteem of the individual rises, say, as a consequence of success in professional or social life. For the individual operating on a subtler level of existence, self-esteem rises as a result of living and acting according to one's own principles and convictions. At still deeper levels, self-esteem accrues as a result of being true to one's deepest feelings and stirrings. All this is fine, understandable. However, it is not yet the perspective of essence. From the perspective of essence, that self-esteem is not a result of anything. Self-esteem, when it is real, is the value of essence. And the value of essence is nothing but essence itself in one of its aspects. Value, according to this perspective, is not something we gain; value is our nature. Essence is value. And if we try to get value as a result of something, then this value is not genuine. It is just filling a certain hole, the hole that resulted from the loss of our true value, an important aspect of our essence. In fact, any attempt to get value by excelling in any endeavor, inner or outer, will just cut us off from the true value, the absolute value of essence, where we are value, without this value being attributed to anything. This is not an indictment of attempting excellence. It is separating excellence from the need for value. The correct relation is that excellence results from value and not the other way around.

Value is a State of Being

Value: its reflection on the emotional level is usually experienced as self-esteem. Self-esteem is always seen as a result, either of some performance, accomplishment, success or excellence. Value, on the other hand, is a state of Being. Like other states of Being, it is not a result of anything, but is an existence. One experiences oneself not as having Value but as being Value itself.

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