It feels so good to be valued and accepted before our family, friends and even detractors. That is why so many people spend fortune on fad and fashion in order to appear trendy, up-to-date and contemporary before their colleagues at work, or peers within their social circle. We thus check out how valuable we are by the feedback we get from the significant others. The signals we pick from them to a large extent shapens our sense of esteem and determine how we value ourselves. In essence, others’ perception of who we paints a subjective reality of who we think we are basically, and this what sociologists call the ‘looking glass self’. We often see ourselves in the light of how others perceive us and how well they treat us or not.
Many suffer from low self-esteem not because they lack talents, or not naturally endowed with gifts and potentials, but because of how they have been treated disdainfully by people and their significant others. On the contrary, some others feel valued and accepted because their friends and family hold them in high repute and value them greatly. Some others feel accepted because they are beautiful, talented, rich, powerful and influential or for one reason or the other.
Notwithstanding, this sort of self-appreciation which is dependent on the value or esteem accorded us by other is never the best because it is dependent on external variables. And we all know from experience that such variables vacillate and change with time. Hence the popular and well-respected singer of today can get stuck in the cellar of obscurity tomorrow. That powerful political figure of today may lose prominence once another influential leader steps into the political scene.
The astute and highly cerebral guy who heads the R & D department of company may end up being banished to the fringes of corporate leadership once a younger and upwardly mobile guy steps in with novel ideas that push the bar over and above to reach of competitors. The TDH dude that is called ‘the ladies’ man’ of today may lose his sartorial elegance tomorrow, and that could reduce his sphere of influence. Today’s most beautiful girl and beauty queen that causes a stir and spins the neck of men who a wowed by her beauty loses her influence tomorrow once she bulges at the wrong places, and grows flabby and wrinkled. Once she recedes into oblivion, a new girl next door takes her place and the cycle continues.
Living daily based on the feedback we get from others has never been, and will never be the best deal we can ever get. Depending absolutely on the sensory inputs we get from others is self-limiting and damaging to our inner psyche. Many have committed both physical and mental torture and suicide in the past when the people, who hitherto had so valued and supported them, eventually turned their back on them. For instance, the jilted lover turns inconsolable and vows never to fall in love again because the only person he/she has ever loved and given her heart unreservedly had walked out on him/her in pursuit of a new lover.
So how then can we acquire self-esteem that is not dependent on how much we worth materially or how others value and respect us? Whose life’s experiences and wisdom can we depend on to build our self-image and confidence? If you think learning from Bill Gates would worth it, may I remind you that a seemingly unknown billionaire from the ‘third world’ country of
With this limitation, I chose to look through the prism of history to draw inspiration from men and women who lived confidently and never had cause to doubt their and devalue themselves. I have looked into the records about Yeshua Hamashiach, (Jesus Christ) that Jewish historical figure who traversed the
Jesus was highly misunderstood his family, friends and foes. The religious leaders hated him, while politicians tried to woo him into opposing camps. Though born into an obscure and poor family in one of the ghettos, he was able to conquer the feeling of inferiority complex to rise up as a world changer in his generation. He had no obvious identity crisis and neither did he try to slip into the tunic of another person just to spruce up his self-image. He was at home and at peace with his family background and heritage. He was not ashamed to be called the ‘son of a carpenter’ who could not pay ante-natal bills for his wife whose first child was delivered in a sheep’s pen!
Like the famed “AJ City” (Ajegunle), the exalted ‘ghetto’ of Naijaland (
Someday, he walked into the hallowed podium of a synagogue, picked up the scrolls and read a portion, and to the hearing and chagrin of the clergy and entire congregation, he declared that those scriptures have been fulfilled in him. For the first time in the religious history of the Jews, the son of a mere carpenter and non-Levite broke the protocol and was celebrated rather than vilified (Luke 4:14-22). With authority, he turned the tide of popular mindset, and made people know that death can be defeated. He made sicknesses and all manner of disease look easy and powerless over humans. The material world bowed to him as he commanded storms to be calm and he even rode on the crest of waves without the help of a speedboat or surfing board! He lived such an amazing life, yet he was born in the obscurity of a ghetto!
What could have been the secret of his self- confidence and mindset of endless possibilities? What gave him that passionate drive and amazing sense of purpose when he had no antecedent of history of having grandparents who called the shots? Is it not possible that if we can tap into this secret, that we’d be able to live confidently and not be depressed or feel deflated when defeating or limiting thoughts pummel us like bulwarks? If we can develop the same courage and unrelenting faith that he had, would it not be possible for us to change the gradual decline in morals and ethics that is plunging our world into more chaos and unrestrained violence and willful destruction of life?