So many ask this question, “If not my money, who am I?” They’re placing money as their worth, which isn’t really who you are. You are first your self-worth over and above your net-worth. Money is a number; it doesn’t have a heartbeat. It’s a thing. You are much more than your money. You are a thinking, feeling, caring human being.
Some would argue this point. But let’s go back in time. A decisive moment in U.S. financial history took place on Black Thursday, October 24th 1929, when the United States stock market crashed. People, especially investors, soon began panicking over their financial future. One of the biggest impact reported during this Black Thursday was that investors jumped out of the windows of their high-rise office buildings. Now this was thought later to have been a mere rumor, that in fact, scores of people were not leaping to their death because of the crash, but the financial devastation left many weary in its path.
What happened, however, behind 1929’s building-jumping myth, was that the onset of the Great Depression correlated to an increase in suicides. Based on statistics reported by John Kenneth Galbraith in The Great Crash 1929, the suicide rate in the United States increased from 17.0 per 100,000 people in 1929 to 21.2 in 1932 during the worst of the financial calamity.
Now, of course, these times must have been quite frightening for all, but to take your life or to consider taking your life because of money is even more frightening. We are not taking the money with us when we go to the land of beyond. It stays here. We are not permanently of this earth—at some point we leave behind the house, diamonds, and goods we’ve accumulated. The goal of this book is to find your inner worth, not your net worth.
The definition of net-worth is our total assets minus our debts. Our net worth is the value of all our non-financial and financial assets that we own as an individual or institution, minus the value of all our outstanding liabilities. That sounds cold, doesn’t it?
The financial world describes your net worth as the most important number in your personal finance life. It’s not about your heart or your soul or the meaning of your life. It’s a number in our personal finances that we often confuse with our self-worth. Self-worth is deep with meaning. Your self-worth is the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect. To be regarded highly or favorably, not by what you own or gained, but by who you are as a person.
Sadly, people compare themselves to others. And often this comparison is about who has what. And to think someone is worthy based on their clothes, cars, homes, and paychecks is absurd when we consider it. Our worthiness is not about our possessions. It’s about our authentic self. Below are ten steps toward your authentic self.
1. Self-Awareness. Self-awareness, awareness of the self, coupled with the self-being, is what makes you unique. This self comprises thoughts, experiences, and abilities. You are only one you. Who are you? Who are you really? Know who you are. As you tap your conscious knowledge of your own character and feelings, you connect to self. Most of us walk through our days in a daze, not connected to the now—to the self. Begin this step by increasing your self-understanding of how you think within your inner world. Once you tap into your self–awareness, you are open to look at your self-worth.
2. Self-Worth. What is your worth? And of course your first thought might be monetary—but we are not our money, as you’ve learned. The self is grander than that. Self-worth defines the level of importance you place on yourself. The knee-jerk reaction to self-worth taps into the emotional outlook that determines how and what you feel about yourself, compared to how and what you feel about other people. We derive our worth by believing we are a good person who deserves to be loved—that we make the world a better place being in it. And worth is you beginning this process by starting with you respecting you. How do you do that? Well, it’s through self-acceptance…
3. Self-Acceptance. Self-acceptance is one of the most challenging of all because it’s exactly what its label suggests: The state of complete acceptance of oneself. Whoa. This means true self-acceptance—embracing who you are right now as you are. This is a critical step because you are taking a direct look at your awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. Merriam-Webster defines self-acceptance as: The act or state of understanding and recognizing one’s own abilities and limitations in each moment you’re practicing self-acceptance—or you’re judging yourself. When you enter the stage of harsh judgment of self often, it blocks the ability to self-love.
4. Self-Love. This step is to have “love of self.” This is a tough step for most because to love thyself is to have regard for one’s own happiness or advantage, which might look like an ego trip to vanity and selfishness. This is not the goal here of self-love. This is about having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness by taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. It’s about not settling for less than you deserve.
5. Self-Value. Self-value regards believing in your worth, but not by comparing yourself to others. This step is more about how you act toward what you value. This value includes you, yourself, and, of course, others. How do you feel about yourself? How do you value others? In this step, the upshot is about self-care. In self-care, the implication is of intrinsic excellence or desirability. It’s not only about the grooming side, which of course is important too, but also about taking care of your psychological health along with spiritual qualities of mind and character—your moral excellence in growth and development. What are your inner thoughts, your inner dialogue? Are you kind when you are in your quiet space in your mind?
6. Self-Esteem. Self-esteem is a function of how we feel about ourselves—based mostly on comparison to others. We are better than some, but not as good as others. Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. An artificially high self-esteem can create a sense of entitlement. The dark side of a high self-esteem is when the world does not meet an individual’s entitlement needs, leaving the person feeling wronged, which can lead to retaliatory manipulation, abuse, and even violence. Of course a low self-esteem has the opposite effect in that the person holds back from succeeding at school or work because they don’t believe they’re capable of success. The goal here is to find a healthy self-esteem in order to navigate through life with a positive, assertive attitude with a belief in the ability to accomplish goals, which is where self-confidence takes center stage.
7. Self-Confidence: Though we can’t be good at everything, we want to be good at the things that are important to us, that add to our personal sense of self-worth overall. A lack of confidence characterizes a low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem often feel unlovable, awkward, or incompetent. Some signs of a low self-confidence are when the person is hesitant or unable to accept compliments. They worry about what others think about them. They can’t decide even about the simplest of arrangements. They do not trust themselves or their judgment. They may even blame others or make excuses for why they can’t do something instead of owning their mistakes. The way to turn this around is for them first to be nice to themselves and recognize nobody is perfect. We all err and we all need some fine-tuning from time to time. Let’s always focus on what we can change and get moving in a positive direction to lift ourselves up and out of the darkness.
8. Self-Reliance. Self-reliance is relying on one’s own powers and resources rather than those of others. Not that we need to live in an island mindset, but we want to plug into the ability to sustain ourselves, not banking on what others will give us—or what we might inherit. Yes, working with community in mind in order to work together is optimal, but with that said, nothing’s wrong with being self-reliant. In this context, self-reliance is about being a warrior for self so that no matter what’s happening, we’re still standing. Self-reliance doesn’t mean not helping or supporting others, because the reality is actually the opposite. Self-reliance means positioning ourselves to be a giver, because we can. When we’re self-reliant, we open the door for self-appreciation, encompassing all that we are and all that we do.
9. Self-Appreciation. This type of appreciation is to recognize and see ourselves exactly the way we are. It’s a compilation of all the previous steps, allowing for valuing ourselves for the person we’ve become. To walk tall and feel good about how not only we see ourselves, but for how others see us. This step moves our negative understanding of self to positive, nurturing self-beliefs. Self-appreciation opens the floodgates of love to self and freely to others. If we feel good about self, we can invite good from others into our realm. This mindful awareness of who we are allows us to remain conscious of good works for self and others. By embracing this appreciation for self, we are showing ourselves compassion and gratitude, which leads to the ultimate step ten.
10. Self-Compassion. This last step toward the authentic self is the kindness directed to self when we decide we are worthy. Compassion is the ability to show empathy, love, and concern to people who are in difficulty—which begins with us, ourselves. That this life we live is precious and we are deserving of all the good it offers. Self-compassion means releasing all self-criticism and the self-defeating mindset to become the best we can. We often are cruelest to ourselves, which splatters and taints the surrounding goodness. This overall self-compassion allows us to change our thoughts and create positive emotions and let the healing begin from the inside out—which is the message in all my writing. Self-compassion signifies the inner relationship with ourselves, and the desire to ease our own pain and suffering, instead of putting our own needs last. Above all else, we must guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it. Self-compassion is the self- love and self-recognition for all that we are and all that we do. As Oprah Winfrey says, “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”
Are you your authentic self? Which of the ten steps do you find lacking in your authentic self most? Which of the steps do you find you attach to best? How is it serving you?
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Thank you for spending time with me and my thoughts throughout these pages. I hope my words lit your excitement to become your best self for you. I look forward to sharing my next book with you on how to release your obsession with money. God bless you… and your journey through this life and all that awaits beyond…
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Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.