It’s easy to believe the inner voices of doubt when someone else seems to validate them. We all lack confidence from time to time, but when our fears are sustained by someone else’s words, many of us give in to their destructive power. Hearing that you are unwanted or incompetent or that “your services are no longer needed” can hurt our self-esteem … if you allow it.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m upset is clean. My wife loves it. I will vacuum, dust, and rearrange all the drawers and cabinets in the house until I feel better. During one of my cleansing therapy sessions, I discovered, carefully tucked in the corner of my dresser drawer, $ 8,500 … Well, 8,500 bolivars (the currency of the country of Venezuela). There are still a lot of zeros, right? Wasting no time, I went online and found that the US dollar conversion was (drum roll, please …) $ 1,338.67. Cha-ching! Dad needs a new pair of shoes. Mom goes shopping and has a good dinner.
The next morning I paid a visit to my local bank to cash out my newly discovered treasure and discovered that my $ 1,338.67 was worth (sad drum roll this time …) NOTHING. That’s right, nothing (very appropriate since they speak Spanish in Venezuela). Are you kidding me? How am I going to explain to my wife that we have to cancel the trip to Longhorn Steakhouse? In my exuberance, I overlooked a couple of very important facts. The first fact is that it was not money that I recently obtained in Venezuela. I got the cash during my last visit there in 2000. The second, more important fact is that the currency in Venezuela changed from Bolívar to “Bolívar Fuerte” on January 1, 2008. Circulation of the old currency that I had managed to wait ended on December 31, 2011. I made several calls to some of my friends in Venezuela who informed me of my faulty reasoning. My estimate and valuation was never based on the original currency and even if it was, only the Venezuelan government determines its currency. Other external factors determine its value, but it is its currency. I could argue forever about what I think it was worth or should be worth, but I don’t have the power to change its value.
I learned a long time ago that the same is true about who determines my self-esteem. The only thing that can establish my value is “the Bank of me”. External forces can influence my thinking and cause me to waver. People can express strong opinions about me and try to connect my worth with what I do for a living, how much I earn, the car I drive, and the size of my home. But only I have the power to set the exchange rate in the currency of my own value. If most establish my value based on where I come from, then it would be worth little. A redneck from the mountains of Puerto Rico raised in poverty and with little prospect of anything. I could have listened to the majority and assigned me the lowest rate. Fortunately, there were mentors, leaders, and influencers who inspired me to see beyond my circumstances. I borrowed courage from myself on credit with the belief that we are all infinitely valuable.
Do not think me naïve to the reality that sociologist Martha Beck describes when she wrote: “Realizing that we have given our self-esteem to others and choosing to be responsible for our own self-esteem would mean absorbing the terrifying fact that” you are always vulnerable to pain and loss. “It is a fight for control. It is a fight to be responsible for our success and happiness. It is a fight that television journalist Soledad O’Brian must know when she writes:” I learned that fear limits you and your vision . It serves as blinders for what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is worthwhile, but believing in your talents, abilities, and self-worth can empower you to walk an even brighter path. Transform fear into freedom, how great is that? “
If you are one of the thousands of people laid off in recent months, I encourage you to reconnect with the immeasurable value and potential that exists within you. Your former employer may have fired you for no reason. They may even have made you feel like you were “dumped”, discarded. Perhaps that sense of loss is compounded by worrying about caring for your loved ones. You may be afraid you don’t have what it takes to succeed again. That success, encouragement, and spark only comes from believing in your worth. A healthy sense of self-worth catalyzes innovation, removes barriers to growth, germinates confidence and balanced thinking. “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck
In you is the potential to be unimportant to the universe or to become its greatest contributor.