My buddy Tom, and I were sitting on the green padded stools and staring into the mirror behind the bar.
“Tom, do you like what you see?”
“What do you mean, Dave?”
“Do you like your face, the one in the mirror?”
“Well, I’m a little tired and stressful in my eyes. I see some anger in my expression. What do you see in your face, Dave?”
“I see a person who is worthy, a person who likes himself.”
“Are you saying I’m not worthy?”
“Keep your shirt on Tom. Looking into the mirror was just a little self-esteem test.”
Oh boy, the green padded stools were getting hot!
“What the test is supposed to convey is that self-esteem is central to good mental and physical health. In other words, life is like a mirror, frown at it and it frowns back, smile at it and it returns the greeting.”
“How would you define self-esteem, Dave?”
“To me it’s confidence in your own worth and abilities. It’s self-respect and feeling good about yourself.”
“I know I have some rough edges and faults but I guess I’m glad to be who I am.”
“Glad to hear that, Tom”
“Dave, I’m a little confused about what makes up self-esteem.”
“One part is identity. Who am I? What is my essential self?
Identity provides a sense of oneself and one’s individuality.
Self-acceptance is another part, believing in oneself and acknowledging weakness and trying to improve.
And then there’s self-confidence, belief in one’s abilities.”
“So Dave, what are the benefits of having a good opinion of yourself?”
The barkeep brought two more beers.
“It’s on the house, fellas.”
“Thank you, very much,” we said in unison.
“Back to the question, some of the positive consequences of having a good opinion of yourself are:
You would be less driven by fear.
You’d be happier.
You’d worry less.
You’d enjoy life more.
You’d be more comfortable with expressing your feelings.
And this one is very important,
You’d be able to manage the existential terror of death better, the knowledge of your mortality.”
“Hey Dave, here’s the big question: How do we build self-esteem?”
“What you need is to feel worthy right down to your core. You are unique and important. You must believe this deeply.”
“But Dave, what if you encounter a stressful event and it knocks you for six?”
“Well Tom, what you do is say to yourself when the event happened:
Getting through this will be a challenge but I’ll choose the course that seems best.
Then during the event say:
This is difficult but I’ll take it one step at a time. My quest is to transcend this but it is revealing my limitations.
Finally, after the event say:
I am hopeful.
I have the courage to see it through.
What are my options now?
This will pass.
I believe things will improve.”
“It all makes sense, Dave. So once you have strong self-esteem it can be your protection against life’s storms.”
“That’s right, Tom, the important thing to remember is:
Don’t let setbacks, traumas, criticisms and stressful events or any externals define you. Each person is too unique and complex to be so narrowly defined. What defines you is your “Inner Worthyness.”
“Drink up, Tom, here comes the conclusion:
A person told me the other day they had so many problems that if something terrible happened to them it would take at least two weeks before they could worry about it!”
Man’s biggest problem is NOT “outer space” but “inner space.”
With that we both jumped off the green padded stools, smiled at our faces in the mirror, and headed out into the wonderful world.
Also published on Medium.