Self-Worth

Imagine this: A two-year old girl falls down a well and is in danger of drowning. Without hesitation, the community invests incredible amounts of time, effort, and money into saving this young girl. And fortunately for everyone involved, they do. But why would they do this? Why would they save this baby girl, who has done nothing noteworthy in her life, and has contributed nothing to society? I mean, she has no money, she is often self-centered and naughty, and she doesn’t have many friends or loved ones besides her immediate family. So why would people even care if she is ok or not?

These questions sound cold-hearted and harsh, don’t they?  They do, because as we all well know, it is because this two-year old girl, this loveable toddler, has unconditional human worth. Regardless of her age, her status, or her contribution to society, this tiny little person has inherent worth and value, and she is just as precious as any other person on this earth. Perhaps she has not done much of “worth” in her two short years, but she certainly has worth as a human being. Regardless of who she is, she has a core-self, and that core is worthy of love, respect, and positive regard. Just as everyone’s is.

…As it is defined by psychologists, self- or core-worth means that all people are indeed equal. It means that we are equal because we are human. This kind of value or worth is not comparable. It is not competitive. And it is not conditional. The worth or value of a person does not need to be earned, nor does it need to be proved. It just exists. It always has, and it always will.  And this worth is to be recognized, appreciated, and accepted.

So, if it so easy to say that must absolutely must save this sweet little girl, to see her value as a person because she just IS, I wonder why so many of us do not value ourselves in such a way. Why do so many of us struggle with self-worth and question our value, even while we are able to recognize the value of others? Why we might think that because we may not fit a certain mold, that we are not as worthy as those who do. I wonder why we are so hard on ourselves when they make mistakes, when something does not go as we had hoped, when people treat us poorly. Too, I wonder why some people assign more or less value to a person because of what they do or do not have, how they do or do not behave, the mold that they do or do not fit.

…Quite often, we allow ourselves and others to be defined by externals: by successes and achievements, families and friends, abilities and appearances, social status, material belongings, and the perception of other people. Of course, external things may influence many parts of our lives. They may impact our thoughts, our feelings, or our behaviors, and they may influence how we relate to others and the world that we are surrounded by. They may influence how we experience our worth, but they do not change our value in and of itself.

So what happens when such things do influence our core worth? What happens when we allow external factors to define or equate who we are, be it for better or for worse? When we undervalue ourselves, and overvalue our surroundings?

When this happens, when our core value is based on something extrinsic rather than intrinsic, we become unstable, conditional, and undervalued. This happens because we have allowed something outside of ourselves to trump the internal, most true parts of ourselves. We then lose sight of our core essence, of who we are and the beauty within us. We lose our authenticity and our security and we cheat ourselves of self-love.

…When worth is separate from externals, however, we experience life much differently. All of a sudden, we are much more resilient, much more stable, objective, and reasonable. Our perspective transforms and our thoughts and feelings become more positive. We are able to distinguish feelings about events from feelings about ourselves. We are kinder to ourselves, more patient, rational, compassionate, and loving. When we separate our worth from externals, we experience both ourselves and our world much more openly.

And so, my precious babies, look within yourselves and see your worth. Embrace your human core and the essence of who you are. Appreciate that which you are surrounded by and have gratitude, but do not measure your worth by these things. Instead, hold them tightly to your heart and revel instead in the beauty that is uniquely you. Remember that your core, your worth, is whole and complete, but it is not completed. That you are an ever-changing work of art of immeasurable value to the world, to your loved ones, and to yourself.

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The Core

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In yogic terms, the body’s core is defined as the workings of the entire torso.  This includes the major and minor, inner and outer muscle groups, the stabilizer muscles, the connective tissues, organs, and energetic bodies of the entire midsection.  According to a yogic definition, the core is not just a body part, rather it is an entire system that is to be incorporated, at least in some way, during almost any and all yogic practices.

As I teach, I often hear myself repeating such phrases as, “engage and activate the core”, “lift from the core”, “draw from the core”, “deepen the core” and so on…

And as I listen to myself describe these body movements, I cannot help but to draw a parallel to what it is like to live from our core in a subtle and figurative sense of the same verbiage.  For, as I have said many times, in yoga, we can emphasize one part of our being, but we cannot completely isolate it.  Therefore, when we engage, activate and draw from our core in asana, we do the same from within, but this time, from the core of our very being that has nothing to do with our physical bodies.

If you think about that for a moment, I think that you will find it to be true.  For when we live from the core of our truest selves, draw strength and direction from our core values, and live in accordance with the deepest aspects of who we are within, and we are aligned with our core, we are at our very best.  And we know this to be true, because we feel our inner strength, we are in tune with our source, and we are able to draw from within and live according to this reservoir within.

So while we may be able to emphasize our core physically in asana, we really are doing much deeper work than we may realize at the moment… and THIS, this is yoga.  And this is a beautiful thing.