“Self-worth comes from one thing – in thinking that you are worthy” Wayne Dyer
Probably the most damaging flaws in human beings throughout the centuries is the lack of self-worth. Most conflict situations, abusive relationships, career difficulties, body problems and mental fear are as the result of a lack of belief in the self. The areas in the hand that display this challenge most prominently are the water finger and the minor fire lines that run below the ring or fire finger. A diminished water finger, which is noticeably shorter than the fire finger can be an obvious sign. Added to this would be the lean of the water finger towards the thumb or radial side of the hand. This shows an influence or dependence on those outside of the self. A radial loop, which is a skin ridge pattern which comes in from the thumb side of the hand accentuates this. A prominence of lines that may be deeply etched which run below the ring or earth finger show the need for approval, appreciation and recognition from others – another indicator that a person does not value themselves enough.
A lowered sense of worth can be the result of many criteria but one of the least obvious is the body’s feeling of inferiority in comparison to the enormity of the soul. Since the soul is 99.999% of who we are, the body, being only 0.0001%, feels less than the power of the soul. This feeling of lack is translated into our sense of self and we feel inadequate, unworthy and small. So we begin our lives on a body level feeling inferior and not good enough in comparison to the energy that animates our bodies. Added to this, possible and often unintentional negative innuendos and criticism from parents, teachers and peers can leave an individual feeling inadequate and unworthy. The role of a parent is not easy and more often than not a statement said to a child in frustration or without enough thought, can leave the child feeling damaged in terms of their sense of self. Knowing that children are very vulnerable and impressionable, it would be a good idea to choose your words very carefully when communicating with them in order to ensure that the words empower, encourage, inspire and elevate them rather than bring them down. Education and discipline is vital to ensuring a balanced, respectable and well-rounded individual but all this can be done without making the child feel inferior. Educational authorities, too, have a vital role to play in ensuring that a child is made to feel adequate rather than inferior. Identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses can help the teacher to develop the strengths rather than to criticise the weaknesses and in so doing help the individual to feel worthy and good about them self.
I had a client many years ago who had a noticeable stutter in her speech. She lacked self-worth and as a result became involved in abusive relationships, found it difficult to progress in her career and could not integrate well in groups of people. We explored her life all the way back to childhood and traced the beginning of her stutter back to grade 5. She was asked by her short-tempered teacher to complete a mathematics sum on the blackboard in front of the whole class. She hadn’t fully understood what the teacher had taught and was unable to successfully complete the sum as requested. The teacher insisted that she remain in front of the class until she had completed it. After feeling totally humiliated and being unable to perform the task at hand she was reprimanded, told how inadequate she was and instructed to return to her seat. A short while later she developed a stutter in her speech and retreated from interacting with others, becoming afraid of anyone in authority. The majority of people would not have reacted as severely to the incident but she was a very sensitive person with a predominance of water energy and could not effectively handle the unreasonable actions of her teacher. We cannot presume that everyone with an excess of water energy will react in the same way, it all depends on how sensitive the person is. Seemingly simple incidents such as this can have a long lasting effect on an individual and are difficult to move beyond.
Most of our lack of belief in ourselves is borne out of comparing oneself to others. This reality is based on hierarchical structures from government to corporate and from educational institutions to family life. We give ourselves positions of power above others and the subordinates often feel less worthy than those in authority. This is primarily a man made system created, ironically, from feeling inferior. The desire to feel important stems from a feeling that one is not, therefore a position is sought that puts the self above another so as to feel better and more valuable than one believes oneself to be. Not all people in authority, however, are there out of a need to prove themselves or feel more important – these are the true leaders.
Lack of self worth can be displayed in two ways:
1. Self-attack – inferiority.
2. Dominance – superiority.
Self-attack means that a person does to themselves what has been done to them by others. This stems from a belief structure that they have created that dictates that they are not deserving of anything other than what they already have. This person will see themselves as less than others and continually diminish their own sense of self by using negative phrases like:
“I can’t, I am not able to, I am not good enough, I don’t know enough, I am stupid, I am not sure” etc.
Added to this are excuses to claim ones worth like:
“I am too fat, I am too thin, I am not creative, I am unattractive”.
Self-attack, more often than not is an excuse born out of the fear of being true to the self. By this I mean that it is easier to bring down the self than to face the fear of moving beyond the comfort zone of unworthiness and stepping into the unfamiliar territory of self-empowerment. Focussing on the negative is far more common in our reality than looking at the positive. Negative expression brings sympathy and attention. Many people with lack of self-worth need validation, sympathy and attention from others to confirm whether or not they exist and to help them to feel worthy. That is why a person with a lowered sense of self-worth will be more negative than positive in terms of their daily expression. However, continued negativity can deliver an unsympathetic response and in the long term people may avoid a continuously negative person leaving them feeling even more insecure and worthless. So it becomes a never-ending cycle from which there seems no escape. The only ladder out of this pit of self-destruction is a process of re-claiming your belief in the self. This is easier said than done but it is possible.
We, in our physical body form, learn by repetition. Reminding the body on a daily basis of one’s worthiness by repeating mantra’s such as “I am worthy and deserving”, or “I am good enough and I am enough”, can assist the conscious physiology to re-programme the damaging conditioned, negative belief structure of feeling less than others and unworthy. Unfortunately repeated affirmations is not enough. Since we are of body mind and soul, it is necessary to include the mind and soul in the process. An attitude shift has to take place where the individual lacking self-worth has to visualise and think of them self as important. This can be done through how they communicate with others in whichever situation they may find themselves. For example, instead of just accepting poor service at a supermarket, without making a scene, simply state that one is unhappy with the situation and request to relay this to a manager. This is a simple example to show that it is possible to stand more in your power, knowing that you do not deserve to be treated badly or endure lack of respect that ensures the feeling of unworthiness. Once a person has done this once or twice, it will become easier and the development of self- worth will begin. Saying things like: “I don’t deserve to be spoken to in that manner or I am good enough in what I do and would appreciate it if you respect that or I am worth more than you are paying me” can help you to believe in yourself more and begin the journey of creating a new sense of self-worth.
One of my clients who struggled with a lowered sense of self took up the challenge to feel more worthy. Whenever he went to a shopping mall, he pretended in his mind that he was an extremely wealthy celebrity. This enabled him to change his posture to an upright and regal position rather than bent over and looking at the floor as he walked, as was his normal mode of behaviour. He smiled at people as he passed them and surprisingly some even smiled back. What was even more astounding was that people even spoke to him, greeted him and stood aside for him, which he had never experienced before. I believe, that due to his projection of this celebrity image, other people in the mall may have energetically picked up on the fact that he was important even though they could not place him in their minds as anyone in particular. This made them react very differently to him and for the first time in many years he felt worthy and important. The mind is a very powerful tool and an attitude shift can be the difference between happiness and depression. The more he continued with this attitude, the better he felt about himself until eventually he believed himself to be important. After encouraging him to see himself as a wise, ancient and beautiful soul and helping him to realise his awesomeness and power beyond the physical, added the third level to his process of reclaiming his sense of self. So, by using affirmations to re-programme his body, his mind to visualise and change his attitude and his soul to understand the bigger picture of who he really was, my client was able to change his life of feeling unworthy and become a confident, happy and successful member of society.
People who are not willing to work on improving their sense of self become victims to their circumstances and can become bitter towards everyone else leaving them permanently miserable and dissatisfied. In the victim status one feels powerless so in order to release from being the victim one has to take responsibility for one’s situation and know that on a soul level everything is chosen for one’s own growth and learning. No one does anything to anyone else, we only accept other’s opinions and criticism and choose to make it our own. Knowing that whatever our circumstances may be, we have chosen to experience them either consciously or unconsciously. Claiming your power means taking ownership for your choices and making a concerted effort to change them.
Those with self-worth problems who tend to implode and self- attack are more likely to move beyond the unworthiness because their inclination is more self-focussed. By this I mean that they are more able to be introspective, self-critical and therefore work on their issues than those who focus their lack of self-worth outwardly onto others.
A person with a lack of self-worth who projects this issue onto others would be termed as dominant. They are unable to take responsibility for their lacks and project it onto others. Looking at all conflict throughout History, most wars were created out of a lack of self-worth especially on the part of the offender. I will only attack someone else if I feel less than I perceive them to be so I will need to bring them down in order to feel better about myself. Therefore the desire to dominate stems from an insecurity in the self. A desire to feel superior is the outward projection of feeling inferior internally. A person who does this can also be seen as arrogant and self-serving, which are both displays of dominance. The insistence on being right is also a projection of a diminished sense of self. If it is proven that you are wrong makes you feel bad about yourself so it becomes of utmost important to those who have a lowered sense of self worth to be right. This is when the ego comes into play, which is also a projection of feeling less than others, which will be discussed in the following chapter.
Acknowledging that you have self worth challenges is the first step to working on them. The second step is to understand the manner in which you display them. Is it that you project inferiority or superiority? Once this is established, you can recognise your behaviour and change it prior to displaying it when the natural inclination is to behave in that way.
So, when faces with the challenges of lowered self-worth one can rebuild the sense of self effectively by:
1. In the case of someone with inferiority, affirming your worth through phrases like “I am worthy”, believing in yourself more and even imagining yourself as important and worthy.
2. In the case of someone with superiority, giving yourself regular reassurance that you are important and do not need to project it onto others.
Understanding that very few people like to be dominated and therefore ironically others will not value you if you dominate which will leave you feeling even more unworthy. Acknowledging that sensitivity, flexibility and accommodating others will help you to gain more respect than dominating.
3. Looking at self-worth challenges from a soul perspective and recognising the awesomeness and power of your being can assist you to claim that power and move beyond a life of feeling inadequate and unworthy.