I wasn’t raised as a confident person. My parents didn’t buy into new-fledged doctrines that are so popular now that children need to be given their voice and deserve unconditional love. Instead, they just tended to their business at hand and hardly chose to spend quality time with me. I don’t recall hearing them praise me, it was rather opposite, I often remember being told I needed to exercise more, get better grades and follow the rules. As a child I didn’t develop strong self-confidence, although it was most likely a combination of many factors and not entirely my parents fault. In a way, they did their best given the circumstances. Growing up into a womanhood I was suffering typical woes of a teenage girl. I was looking in the mirror and not liking what I had seen. Even though I knew my self worth had nothing to do with those extra pounds around my waist I still couldn’t manage to feel radiant, powerful and confident.
However, my major lapse in self confidence happened when I got married and decided to be a stay at home mom. Somehow, over the years of being financially dependent on my spouse and aggressively depreciated verbally I felt I was losing my ground. My levels of confidence dropped significantly, I started seeing my worth only in direct correlation to services I was performing for my family. I no longer felt I deserved anything at all because I wasn’t bringing in the money. I was under impression that my worth depended on usefulness and not just my mere existence. I think this happened so gradually that I didn’t even notice how low my confidence was and how deeply it was affecting me as a person.
Only later when I returned to my regular practice of meditation was I able to realize the miserable state of my affairs. I became a shy, withdrawn person. I lacked not only confidence but also enthusiasm, energy and the spark in my eyes was gone. Slowly, ever so slowly I started emerging as a whole person again. I started redefining my own self, my life, my mission and the sense of worth. I stopped seeing my worth in terms of accomplishments but rather how I felt inside.
That’s when I tried to look around and see how other women felt about themselves and where they drew their confidence from. I was stunned to see that majority of American women had it, it seemed they were born with it. This innate gift was something fascinating to me, a person who clearly was somehow deprived of it. Upon closer examination I realized not only they were born with it, American women were encouraged to cherish it, to build their self-confidence and be proud of who they are. Although, later, I noticed with dismay, that sometimes it really had to do with their financial status, profession and their wardrobe. That left me puzzled, how confident would they be if all of that was lost? I was wondering to what extent their self worth depended on money brought in by their significant other?
I was starting my new life from scratch. I had been a stay at home mom for over 10 years with not up to date job market skills. I was driving a 15-year-old car and hoped it would not break down because I would have no money to fix it. My daughters and I hardly went to eat out. We were grateful for the food stamps. I shopped goodwill. We had no extra money in my bank account. I felt sometimes uneasy having to explain to my daughters we were already lucky and rich to have each other, safe and warm place and good food. But a bug of envy could occasionally hit even me when I would see other people enjoying their summer vacation and we had to stay put.
However, amazingly, I started noticing that it wasn’t the money anymore that had an influence on how I felt about myself. It wasn’t my ambitions and plans for the future either, although I developed some amazing business ideas and was pursuing them. It was finally the feeling of self worth that came from the inside, from knowing that I was important no matter what. It was so liberating and intoxicating that I started to perceive myself in a whole different way. This internal change soon brought on the external one. I started holding my head high and I walked confidently with a smile. I was now enjoying talking to random people I would meet around the town. I also rediscovered I was an attractive woman with a newly found feminine allure. This in itself was an eye opening experience. The more I enjoyed the woman inside me the more I was able to open to receive love and loving care, something I hadn’t imagined possible.
This transformation was making me realize I was stronger than I thought. I was more resilient, powerful and creative than I had ever imagined. Just looking back at where I had been and where I was now was intoxicating and mind blowing. As I looked at it I could clearly see that I was the force behind all the changes, I was the one who initiated them. This simple realization was paramount.
To conclude, I believe the feeling of self-worth needs to be internal and should not depend on prestige, professional or marital status, money or any external factors. True self-worth comes from knowing inside your heart that we are worthy and created to be loved and respected. If we base our self-worth on anything else we might be for a rude awakening as the universe likes sometimes to try our sense of worth by removing all the things that mean so much to us!