The Second Basic Principle for Mental Fitness
Last time we had the chance to discuss the other basic principle for mental fitness which is "recognizing that one can change". We were saying that people in general learn to cope with change by developing a particular style of response. We also listed the five caricatures under which people’s reaction to change may be classified. We went on to add that there could never be one ideal way of coping with change, considering the various circumstances, as well as people that each one of us encounter every day in his life. Therefore, we were saying that in order to change in a fruitful way, one need to understand the present, avoid being burdened by the past, as well as accept the uncertainty of the future. However, this time we would like to seek the opportunity to share with you the second basic principle for mental fitness, which is "valuing one self", knowing how to achieve it, as well as recognizing its importance.
We can not deny that many of us tend to fall in this pit, which is looking at the people around admiring them for being successful. While at the same time we might be hunted by the feeling of inferiority, or that we are no good, blinded by a sense of low self worth. But we fail to recognize that many of those around us who appear to us so self confident from the outside are beset with doubts from within.
The first technique for valuing one self that we need to know is learning to value one self independently from one’s achievement. People tend to commit the mistake of associating one’s value with their achievements. What they actually are unaware of is that finding within oneself a sense of value that does not depend on our achievements will make any person more resistant to crippling to self doubts.
This inner sense of value, which is also called intrinsic value, can perhaps be explained using the analogy of parental love. The child may do things that the parent strongly disapproves, or even go to the extreme of not liking the child at times, but the love remains no matter what the child does. Carl Rogers, one of the famous psychologists, called this sense of love "unconditional positive regard". The positive sense of regard is unconditional in the sense that your personal, unique value does not depend on your origins or on your talents any more than it depends on what you do. It can not be lost by something bad, anymore than it can be gained by doing something good. One must strive to hold onto this attitude of unconditional positive regard. It is neither selfish nor egoistic to feel so, but instead it provides the foundation for being generous and open with others. People fail to recognize that failing to recognize one’s value, would be the result of feelings of guiltiness, as well as a constant need for reassurance from others which hence would lead to egoism, selfishness and to unhappiness.
If one tends to undervalue himself, he is certainly applying double standards, in that he is underrating himself just because he is who he is, and not someone else. Therefore, if someone does value himself less than he values other people, he needs to stop and ask himself why is this happening? Is he being fair to himself? If this person looks at himself from outside, as if someone else was examining him, had he realized that he is downgrading his view of himself, just because he is who he is? If this is the case than this person is applying the third technique which is the double standards that people refer to unintentionally which is one of the major causes that makes people constantly undermine themselves.
One of the major factors that prevent people from valuing themselves is the fear of arrogance, or becoming arrogant. Indeed, arrogance is valuing oneself, one’s opinions and character more than other people. It is being unfair to others. But if one undervalues himself, he is making exactly the same error as the arrogant in reverse. This person is actually being unfair to himself. Therefore, being fair, as well as valuing oneself is not arrogant, but instead it helps to protect the person from behaving in an arrogant fashion.
Sometimes people tend to undervalue themselves not because they are disappointed in their achievements, but because they are disappointed in themselves, in their moral character. These people think that they have not come up to their personal standards of behavior, and so whip themselves for this mercilessly. These people fail to recognize that it is in the nature of standards that they can not be lived up to all the time, and if they could they would perhaps be too demanding. Failing to meet a standard is actually a reason for valuing oneself, for recognizing that it is worth trying to make changes and starting to make them.
To conclude valuing oneself is actually one of the major keys of helping in building one’s life on a secure foundation. However, if this is not achieved many aspects of life suffer. It becomes hard to manage oneself and one’s problems, relationships seem less satisfactory, one may feel anxious or even depressed, may suffer from sleeping or eating disorders, to finding it hard to concentrate and make decisions. So learn to value yourself by recognizing that you are equal to others to be able to enjoy your life to the fullest.