behaving through love

Self esteem is a word we hear frequently and much of the time it is culturally misunderstood. And to a certain extent, the idea of self esteem that is cultivated in our society is a necessary first step in our growth. Learning to be self-sustaining, finding our purpose in life, revealing our gifts in life, being the best we can be all sound very noble and enriching of our self esteem. The problem is that our ego (the survival part of us) takes hold of what gains we might make with self esteem and mixes fear in the pot. The result is that no matter what benefit we may see in self esteem growth as we move through life, our unconsciousness “taints” our perception of ourself and our life so that we can’t hold any really sense of worth. We are left with only a fake, flimsy mask of self esteem that is subject to whatever whims our perceptions and experiences might bring to us at any given time.

The attributes that can effectively move us out of this cycle depend on self-awareness. We must be able to catch ourselves as we move into patterns of unworthiness. As soon as I sense I am withholding my love, feeling sorry for myself or feeling angry, I need to notice that I’m doing that. Every single time I am able to observe this, I build spiritual strength. Every time I make the choice to move into care or understanding or forgiveness, I am enhancing my self esteem.

The fruits of this kind of self awareness are spiritual integrity and accountability. These two principles are the foundations of true self esteem, not society’s version of which we are accustomed. Each time we make a choice to move out of unawareness by noticing when we are acting out of fear, then we add to our integrity and accountability “bank accounts.” When we can take our actions a step further and not only stop ourselves from acting out of fear but can even switch to behaving through love, then we reap “compound interest” in our self esteem accounts.

Why do we care about self esteem? Because without self esteem we lose hope and purpose as human beings. We develop illness, become depressed and cause pain in the lives of others and ourselves. Often as I drive through the beautiful mountains where I currently live, I pass houses of occupants who throw piles of trash and junk in their yards. Sometimes the debris is mounded up to the roof on their front porches, blocking their windows and doors. With miles of amazing mountain range views available, these people choose to clutter and obstruct the natural wonders with their own accumulated refuse. Why? Why would a person choose pain, ugliness, depression instead of receiving the unlimited, free gifts of beauty all around them? Because their self esteem feels so depleted, they live in such vile unworthiness, they are completely unable to perceive what is right in front of them.