by Gina Lake
The issue of self-esteem is complicated by the fact that there are actually two types of self-esteem: That which comes from the ego and that which comes from Essence, or the true Self. The ego bases its self-esteem on looking good in other people’s eyes, so it tries to acquire the things—power, beauty, money, success, comforts—that do this and, therefore, enable it to feel good about itself.
The trouble with this is that life may have other plans than providing you with these things, no matter how hard you try, and even if you do get these things, you may lose them. In the end—at death—everyone loses it all. If your self-esteem is based on how much money, beauty, success, or power you have, whatever gives you self-esteem is bound to be diminished one day, and then what happens to your self-esteem? When it’s built on things that come and go, you can never just rest; you are always trying to maintain or get more of whatever gives you self-esteem. And with the ego, you can never get enough of anything. So, in the end, even if you have money, power, beauty, success, or other things that make the ego feel good, the ego still doesn’t feel good enough.
True self-esteem, on the other hand, comes from contact with Essence, our true nature. When we are in contact with it by being present in the moment and no longer identified with the egoic mind, we are naturally at peace and feel good not only about ourselves, but about everyone and everything else. Contact with Essence is contact with the Oneness that we are. True self-esteem is esteeming everyone and everything (since they are all part of the Oneness that you are). True self-esteem leaves nothing out. It loves not only itself but everything else. This is essentially the state we all hope to abide in always. This is what we all really want. Feeling better than others because we have more beauty, power, wealth, or success than them is an empty victory. This isn’t self-love; it isn’t love at all. It is separation, and separation is a state of unhappiness and a state of imprisonment. You are imprisoned by the ego and its needs and drives, and that is not a pleasant place.
A lot of self-esteem is not even a sense of loving yourself but a pumping up of yourself on the part of the ego to compensate for not feeling good about yourself, which is actually the ego’s ongoing state. The whole issue of self-esteem is an issue that exists because of ego-identification. Without ego-identification, there is no self that needs pumping up; there is only the Self, which includes everyone, and a sense of loving Oneself from a place of completion and contentment.
You don’t get to the experience of this Self by doing anything in particular but more by not doing. What you stop doing is giving your attention to the egoic mind and its constant need for more, better, and something different. Instead, you give your attention to this precious moment, which is complete and full of everything that will make you feel good about yourself and, more importantly, about everyone and everything in life. True self-esteem is not just loving yourself but loving everyone else too—because they are your Self.