How do you feel about yourself? Being locked down under lock and key caused us all, I hope, to really take the time to reflect on who we really are. How did you measure up to your own expectations of yourself, when so much of your freedom has been taken away so suddenly? Did you fall short of your expectations? Has your self-esteem been affected? How is your bank balance faring?
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
So much marketing sends the message that beauty comes with a particular “look”. If you don’t meet those “requirements”, then you simply are not beautiful. This play on our minds, particularly women, can be extremely damaging to the way you view yourself; from your weight, to your complexion to the size of your “assets”, to aging. This can cause many women to have serious insecurities that can lead to health challenges as they battle with one aspect or the other, of their bodies.
Certainly, being good looking comes with advantages but if your selfworth depends only on your looks, you are in for a challenging time as you change through ageing or otherwise. Physical appearance can be fleeting; it is the content on the inside that is timeless.
Self-worth versus networth
Net-worth is an external measure of how much we are worth in financial terms, while self-worth is an internal measure of how much one values oneself. In our society, there is a tendency to attach self worth and other people’s approval to material things and shows of ostentation. The truth is that those that measure their self-worth by their net-worth never really feel valuable. It is never enough. Many people live beyond their means in an attempt to feel good about themselves. Getting into debt just to keep up appearances seldom ends well. All the goods and possessions that you possess just don’t reflect who you truly are.
The dangers of materialism
A society that celebrates a person’s worth based on his or her financial assets, connections and influence is materialistic as it builds social strata based on material things. When people are “encouraged” to amass and cling to possessions, when our pursuit is on making profit, pursuing pleasure, and obtaining position, it leaves little energy, time, and ability to focus on our real purpose and the things that really matter.
Materialistic societies rate individuals not on personal character and achievement, but rather on the fantastic display that they are able to put on, and other extreme shows of ostentation. In Nigeria, a societal value system has evolved where material fortune is more widely celebrated than diligence, honesty, honour and integrity; these virtues are seldom accorded the respect they do deserve.
As materialism becomes endemic and a society equates self-worth with net-worth, with far too much emphasis placed on money, power, position and possessions, and acknowledges and celebrates wealth without questioning its source, there is a tendency for people to go to extremes in order to increase their net-worth at all costs and by any means possible leading to dishonesty and corruption.
As people compete to build the trappings of wealth and put these on display, the seeds of corruption are sown. Greed and the insatiable love for materialism are at the root of bribery and corruption, which have eaten deep into the marrow of our society. The endless desire of all strata of society, both rich and poor, for possessions, inevitably leads to moral decadence. Name-dropping
Some people can’t complete a sentence without name-dropping. It gives a sense of worth that they know “someone” as they think it comes with admiration from others. Does a long list of “contacts” that people would die for, or a non-stop social calendar, make you feel important?
It is dangerous to base your worthiness on other people’s success. We must all dig deep and work on ourselves and appreciate ourselves for who we are. If there is one positive that has come from the dramatic change in our lives and lifestyles at this time, it should be that it has helped us address some of those questions around what truly matters. It is the small wins, relationships and seemingly smaller moments that matter and make one feel fulfilled.
Who are you beyond the fancy job-title? job title is another area to watch. We often base our self-worth on a job title. “Communications Director”, “Executive Director, Finance”, “I’m an investment banker”, “I’m an attorney in a leading oil company”. Don’t let your job define you; don’t let your job title consume you and forget who you really are.
Basing your self-worth on a title comes with huge risk to your psyche; when you shed the title, it could be hard to adjust. A pandemic, a recession causing a sudden shift in the job market, or a major health concern can end your career in the twinkling of an eye and lead to an identity crisis.
Look at who you are without the fancy titles and learn to be comfortable with that. Does your self-worth come from your job and all its perks, your money, your position in government or in the private sector and the attendant trappings, or your position in society?
It is natural to feel good about your achievements and accomplishments, but don’t base your selfworth and self-esteem on this or you will be constantly chasing “success” and never stop to live. Many successes give you a temporary lift and then you are racing on to the next thing. What really matters to you at your core? It is your sense of values and ethos that will give you that life of meaning and purpose.
Why is self-worth important?
Have you ever thought of how you measure yourself? Reflect on whether you have measured yourself through your looks, your job, your money, your position, or your possessions. Life is not about looking beautiful or accumulating wealth and possessions, because in the end, you cannot take them away with you. We often feel a false sense of security by having a large net worth or more wealth than our neighbor.
Net-worth and fortunes can change dramatically; wealth can be transient. Our lives and livelihoods can change in an instant. Wealth is nice to have, and can and does bring pleasure, but it is important to keep it in perspective. In order to develop a sense of well-being beyond material success and its outward trappings, an internal appraisal is necessary; a strong sense of self-worth is the key to true contentment and lasting fulfillment.