What is your value?

I have been recently told of how people suffer depression because they feel so lousy about themselves, some to the extent of contemplating drastic measures including suicide.  This has triggered me to share my thoughts on the topic of self-esteem.

In a country as affluent as Singapore, where the rich are fast getting richer and the poor still find it a struggle to keep pace, this aspect of self-worth or self-esteem features as an important element that needs to be addressed across any individual’s scope of reference. Someone once wrote that self-esteem is about how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It’s about how you look at yourself and how you feel about the things you have accomplished.

Many people get the wrong impression that self-esteem is all about how great you feel about yourself and visibly demonstrating your confidence and ability, sometimes to the extent of coming across as being boastful. To me, self-esteem is akin to quietly knowing that you are worth a lot, regardless of race, wealth, intelligence, or station in life. It’s all about recognizing that you are blessed, talented, and “priceless”!

This brings to mind MasterCard’s “Priceless” advertising proposition. Jim Farrell, a Professor of History and Director of American Studies at Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, commented that “MasterCard’s “Priceless” ads are obviously designed to respond to the American public’s worry that everything is being commodified, and that we’re becoming too materialistic. So the ads emphasize the things money can’t buy, the intangibles that make the good life really good.” 

You neither need money nor a high position to know that you are worthy of being loved and accepted. Stop for a moment and realize that nobody in this entire world is perfect, and that having a positive self-esteem does not stem from material things but from a perception that is within oneself. I stumbled onto a story recently about a well-known speaker who started off his seminar by holding up a $500 note. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $500 note?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this note to one of you but first let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the note up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked up the dirty and crumpled note and asked, “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.  The valuable lesson this speaker was trying to inculcate upon his audience was to do with “value”. No matter what he did to the money, the people still wanted the note because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $500.

Friends, I’m sure you realize that life never promises to be a bed of roses. Every single one of us goes through ups and downs, sometimes more downs than ups. Yes, there are occasions we are made to feel like the $500 note – dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt to the extent that we feel as though we are worthless. We live through situations that come by us and we make decisions to the best of our ability. But things don’t always end up the way we desire them to be. But regardless of what transpires or what will transpire in the future, you need to remember that you, just like the note, will never lose your value. All of us are special in our own right.

Someone once said, “Never let yesterday’s disappointments overshadow tomorrow’s dreams”. So lift your head up high and recognize that “Value has a value only if its value is valued!”