Self-Esteem – Excerpt from Suffering is Optional: Step Out of the Darkness Into the Light

Our self-esteem is constantly changing. In order to achieve complete and full self-esteem, we have to accept full responsibility for our lives, for both our internal and external experiences.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming other people for how we feel or for what happens to us because the alternative is to accept responsibility for our actions and responses. We become distracted by looking for solutions to our problems outside of ourselves, or we refuse to look for a solution because we mistakenly believe we cannot help the way we are. Perhaps we tell ourselves, This is just the way I am.

Sometimes, a person with good self-esteem is accused of being conceited or selfish and looked down on. Once again, our self-worth is our value. Self-esteem is a feeling, and self-worth is a value. Do you see the difference? Our culture is rife with wonderful people who struggle with self-esteem and self-worth issues.

In our techno world, we are constantly bombarded with media perceptions of what beautiful is, what success means, and what popular signifies. The majority of us cannot meet the mark. Magazines portray images of beautifully airbrushed, flawlessly Photoshopped people, and they become the standard to which we aspire. I don’t know about you, but the image I see in my mirror every morning does not look flawless.

For some reason, I have not been able to find a mirror that will Photoshop my image for me so I don’t see all the sags, bags, bumps, wrinkles, stretch marks, and scars that are a testament to the life I have lived. Although I would rather not have these visible reminders, I do not regret the experiences in which I gathered them.

Self-esteem is a feeling, and self-worth is a value.
Do you see the difference?

My four pregnancies left behind a body covered with silvery, thin-skinned tracks, but I would not trade any of my precious children for even a moment of my pre-pregnancy body – not even if it meant I could wear that really cute swimsuit I keep drooling over. Years of weight fluctuation have left me less than toned, and accidents have left their reminders behind, as well.
I recently acquired a set of six little scars on my abdomen from having cancer removed from my body, forever documenting in my flesh another experience I have lived through. My hair has lots of silvery highlights, my skin is not smooth, and I have grown a strange thing on my lip. Does this mean I am no longer a person of value or worth? Sometimes it feels like it, and this is the problem.
It is not how the world perceives me – it is how I perceive myself that needs attention.
The illusion is in believing that hitting a certain number on the scale or wearing a certain kind of clothing determines my worth – as if my intelligence or value towards getting the job done would be enhanced if only I had nicer clothes, more jewelry, or drove a sports car. Would my ability to serve others be much improved if I lost weight and got a tummy tuck or a facelift?

About the Author

Michelle Nagel


Michelle Nagel is the founder and president of Soul Shift, Inc and the author of Out of the Darkness, Into the Light. Michelle travels widely, sharing her profound insights about moving beyond the invisible thoughts that keep us stuck.