I received an email from a reader who wanted to know how it is possible to have a highly developed level of self-esteem without becoming, or seeming to be, egotistical. The very question shows that our cultural brainwashing works to limit one’s belief in one’s self and self worth. Being egotistical is seen to be a negative thing and, by inference, those with extra high levels of self-esteem are taken to be egotistical; therefore bad.
First of all, let’s clarify the difference: Egotists are essentially insecure people who are attempting to cover up their own suspicion that they are not quite as good as other people by pretending that they are more important. People with very high levels of self-esteem do not need to determine their self-worth by comparing themselves, either publicly or in their own minds, with others.
An egotistical person’s sense of self-worth is mostly determined by external conditions, circumstances or events.
They promote themselves so that they can be convinced of their own value by the feedback they receive from peers, fans, voters, employees or even their own children. They often strive to be high achievers because they can then get the acclaim of others, in the hope that this acclaim will somehow prove their worth; though it seldom erases the suspicion that they are unworthy. It is not a bad thing to be egotistical; it is just sad.
A self-esteemed person’s sense of self-worth is mostly determined by internal conditions like attitude, compassion, belief, passion and personal vision. They also tend to have a direct sense of their relationship with divinity. Not the kind of divinity promulgated by preachers, mullahs and gurus who teach that human beings are base creatures who can only merit salvation by submitting to the will of some god; but the kind of divinity that teaches that all things, including you, are sacred and worthy of being honored as such.
That’s the trick to having a high level of self-esteem: to know yourself as being both a sacred creature and a divine creator; and then to honor yourself as such by acting as such. If you want to develop a high level of self-esteem, you must first come to know your true self and then, you must fall in love with your true self. That’s another bit of cultural brainwashing you must overcome. Self-love is often seen as narcissism or extreme vanity. It is not; any more than self-esteem is egotism.
So change your perspective. Having a high level of self-esteem does not equate to being egotistical. If others wish to interpret your sense of self-worth as meaning that you have a big ego, let them. That’s their problem, not yours. Loving yourself unconditionally does not equate to narcissism. It is simply honoring that spark of divinity that resides in you. Those who also honor their own divinity will not think you vainglorious; they will simply say “namaste”. Namaste means, ‘the sacred in me recognizes and honors the sacred in you’.
Forget the big ego. Know thyself; honor thyself; love thyself. Then go about your job of being a contribution to your fellow creatures. Modern day culture teaches that the more you accumulate, the more you are worth. The truth of the matter is that the more you give, the more you are worth. The more you are worth, the more wealthy you can become. If you want to be wealthy, develop your self-esteem. If you want to be prosperous, become abundantly worthy. Believe in you.
The true measure of your wealth is not measured by what you are able to accumulate, but by what you are enabled to contribute.