Developing Worth ; Our Self

April 14, 2013 at 22:25
Raajan Soni
With the world hit by financial crisis and value of property and other assets dropping substantially, we have a big question before us; what is our self worth? Can our personal worth be calculated only in terms of our material possessions, which can appreciate and depreciate any time by the circumstances beyond our control and thus manipulate the quality of our lives? Or, whether our peace of mind and equilibrium of our life is in the hands of our material possessions only? Moreover, another question arises that whether it is all erroneous due to our wrong perception of self worth as we measure it in material context only while excluding our personality. Hence in case some crisis takes place, not only does it change the face of economies but it also affects people’s lives as well. As somebody’s material desires are compromised his self-worth also diminishes along with his self esteem. When our most measurable possessions are suddenly taken away, we seem to lose our ability to live without them. There is such a high emotional attachment to one’s possessions that a feeling of helplessness creeps in. But why?
After all earlier man survived without any amenities. He found creative ways for survival. While he was short of food, had no clothing and no shelter. He operated from the knowledge that he carried with him to overcome challenges of day to day life. Then, what is the reason which compels us to measure our self worth in terms of material possessions only? One need that dominates all of our other needs is the desire of approval from other people and society. We seek approval by looking good, having a beautiful home, good saving, and better social status and so on. We depend on others to give us a sense of self- worth. In order to fulfill the need to fit in people’s expectations we try to gain material success, fame and money. And gradually this urge propels us to climb higher up the social ladder. Our efforts translate into success and our basic needs graduate into indulgence. Our basic need for a house grow into the need for a larger house and then desire to have a best address in town, for that we even resort to unethical means in a bid to get approval. So ultimately the constant search for validation of our real personal self- worth exhausts and debilitate, making us dependent on others to feel good about ourselves and the constant waiting for positive affirmation restricts our personal growth. Later we start accumulating material things at the expense of personal growth. Our material possessions become an integral part of our identity and thus we enter into an unending vicious circle. In fact, we become victims of our own success. Although, it would not be wise to deny the value of material things as well as personal accomplishments that are required to lead a good life and to curve a good future for our next generations. But the biggest question is that how much is too much and at what cost? And whether it should be at the cost of personal growth? And can material growth substitute our personal growth? And what is the cost of not striking a balance between material growth and personal growth? Is it not true that lack of personal growth results in a poor self esteem and a high self esteem is an integral component of life same as food, clothing and shelter? Our self esteem is connected with our relationship with ourselves. The higher our self esteem is, the better we feel about ourselves. That relationship determines everything about our lives and every personal crisis, we face, is ultimately caused by inadequate self-esteem, which is the result of lack of personal self-worth. The well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow, who charted out a hierarchy of human needs, placed self-esteem above basic survival needs such as food, shelter and clothing. People with low self-esteem do not feel comfortable in being themselves. So they cover up who they are. One of the chief manifestations of this cover-up is creating a false self with the help of material objects. Even high achievers often fuel their actions by the need to earn society’s approval. According to psychotherapists “Those aspiring to be the center of attention actually have rock-bottom self- esteem. When your self-esteem is high, you can accept yourself as you are, as you don’t need to prove anything. Our personal self worth correlates with rationality, realism, intuitiveness, creativity, independence, flexibility, ability to manage change, willingness to admit and correct mistakes, benevolence and cooperation. Similarly, lack of personal self worth correlates with irrationality, blindness to reality, rigidity, fear of the new and unfamiliar, inappropriate conformity or inappropriate rebelliousness, defensiveness, an overly compliant or controlling behavior, and fear or hostility towards others. The best method to develop self-worth is to develop oneself into a human resource by developing one’s intellect. This is the only way of creating self worth. It is entirely personal and realization of true source of our usefulness and value, that can only be measured by the strength of one’s intellect and a strong mind and not by our personal possessions. Hence even if value of our property and other assets drops substantially what remains intact is the value of our wisdom or the knowledge within us. It is this love for ‘self’ that gives us the basic material to overcome difficult circumstances and create miracles in life. So investment in oneself and giving time to oneself for personal growth leads to development of a human being who has a high self-esteem and a real understanding of self-worth.

 Raajan Soni is a practicing law- yer at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, India. He can be reached at

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