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Self-Esteem Issues, Anyone?
April 14th, 2010

It’s a little hard for me to understand why I have self-acceptance or self-esteem issues.

I had a decent childhood, with no major abuse that I can remember. But certainly I’ve had this issue to deal with. And it certainly seems to me that this problem is epidemic in the world around me.

I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about how to deal with the “I don’t like myself very much,” or “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m a complete failure” or “Others can do it, but I can’t” syndrome.

One place to start is a bit of introspection about the origin of issues like this. For me, I think it springs from two places:

1) Past incarnations in which I didn’t measure up to my own or others’ expectations of me.

2) Present incarnation, in which I never seemed to be successful enough, though I tried mightily.

Example: I was a good student and often, though not always, brought home straight-A report cards. Upon seeing one of these, my mother would say: “Why don’t you do this on every report card?”

And then there was the “sin thing.” Being raised a Southern Baptist, I was taught, from birth, that we are all sinners, damned to hell.

Please understand that I’m not (nor should you) blaming anybody or any circumstances of my life. I chose this life, my parents, my religious background, my personality—everything!—for purposes of learning the lessons I needed to learn in this life. (And so, by the way, did you!)

But please don’t dwell too long on the exact causes of low self-esteem, if you have trouble with it. The main thing to do is to ask: “What do I do about it?”

First suggestion: Avoid the ego trip of self-negation. “What???” You say. “How could an inferiority complex be egotistical?” It would seem to be just the opposite, right?

But Paramhansa Yogananda clearly stated that: “…an inferiority complex and a superiority complex are opposite sides of the same coin.”

It took me a while to understand this important statement, so let me give you an example from my life. When I first moved to Ananda, instead of feeling the bliss and total harmony with others here that I expected, and instead of having great meditations and going immediately into samadhi, I found myself judging myself severely and comparing myself to everybody else living here—they all seemed like real saints to me.

“It’s hard living here!” I thought. “They are strong. They can do all this meditation and attitude changing and working on themselves constantly. I’m simply not strong enough to do this all the time! They are courageous. I am a coward. I’m too weak. I should leave Ananda and not inflict myself on these great souls, thereby bringing down the wonderful vibrations at Ananda with my ICKY presence.”

Fortunately for me, I voiced these thoughts to a dear friend and fellow disciple. She thought it over and then said very sweetly, “By having such thoughts you are just being tricked by your own ego. Listen to yourself: ‘I am not this, and I am not that, and I can’t do this or that! I, I, I, me, me, me’!”

Wow! She was right, and I was able to hear this! So I sat right down and changed my attitude—almost on the spot! I started affirming (and still do): “Naughty or good, Divine Mother, I am your child. I am Master’s disciple. I am made in God’s infinite image. So what if I’m not perfect. That’s what I’m here to become! I am one with the Infinite AUM—that’s all that’s important! If I behave badly, that is not the essential me.” And there were many other such affirmations that came to me or are in Swami Kriyananda’s or Yogananda’s writings.

Another lesson: I met my husband, Sudarshan, here at Ananda. About a year after we were married in 1980, he said: “Savitri, I want to tell you something that I’ve been observing about you. You are a very kind person, very sweet, very loving. But you would never treat anybody as badly as you treat yourself. Why do you do this? Don’t you know you are being disrespectful to God within you?”

Wow, again! Again it was truly time for me to hear these words and really start trying to do something about it—to start treating myself better, as I would treat others, taking time to do fun things and to get enough rest and so on.

Show some respect for the God within you!

Swami Kriyananda has offered many worthwhile suggestions specifically for those who work with this challenge. In fact, he wrote a whole book about it called “Secrets of Self-Acceptance.” There’s a wonderful introduction to that book from which I quote:

“While traveling the road back to self-acceptance, bear in mind that you, in common with every other human being, are unique. The melody you have to sing is yours alone for all eternity. The role you have to play on Life’s stage can be played by no one else. Your allotted task is to learn to play it to perfection. That melody, however, or that role, belongs to a more expanded Selfhood than the realities you experience in your little ego. Transcend all limitation by contemplating ever-more-expanding vistas of reality. Ultimately, you will discover who you really are, behind all the ego masks that you—in common with most human beings. [Learn to move] from the ego-squeeze of self-rejection to the relaxation and joy that accompany self-expansion and total self-acceptance.”

Here’s one of my favorite “Secrets” from the same book: “The secret of self-acceptance is not identifying yourself with failure. Neither success nor failure can define you, who are made in the image of Infinite Perfection.”

And to close:
A suggested affirmation for the highest level of self-acceptance:

“No matter what happens to me or around me,
No matter what others think of me or what I do,
I love and value myself.
For I realize that I am not the little self only,
But also the greater Self,
Made by God, made in God’s image,
Ever-perfect, ever-free!”

 

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21 Responses

  1. Bhagavati says:

    Wow. Thank you, Savitri, for this powerful blog post. I really resonate with what you have to say and appreciate your willingness to share so openly of your experience. You are such a blessing!

  2. Sue Ridgeway says:

    Namaskar. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences Nayaswami Savitri. This is a very helpful reminder for those of us who tend to honor and respect the Infinite Light in everything – except ourselves.

  3. Vinay says:

    Dear Savitri,

    Thanks for sharing a beautiful struggle. Everyone shares the same experience at some point. Really, seeking God is a cure for all of our ills, isn’t it?

  4. Cris says:

    That was wonderful, Savitri, thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  5. Nancy Cralle says:

    Isn’t it amazing what we allow our ego’s to tell us about who we are? This is a wonderful article and reminds me once again to tell my ego to STOP!! I am learning to catch it as it happens, and that is a wonderful feeling. I respect you so much for recognizing and trying to correct this situation. We all have that problem until we realize we are listening to the wrong perceptions. I, too, grew up feeling a little “less than.” I never quite lived up to others expectations. What a wonderful thing when I discovered that I didn’t have to. :)
    Much love to you,
    Nancy

  6. Nancy Cralle says:

    Hi,
    I searched for this book at Crystal Clarity Publishers but it could not find it. Any ideas where I can find it?
    Love
    Nancy

  7. Hi Nancy,

    It’s out of print, but you can still find it at book stores that carry used books, like Amazon.com:
    Secrets of Self-Acceptance

    It’s a wonderful book — I bought a couple of copies for relatives at Christmas-time last year.

    Joy,
    Nabha

  8. Dambara Begley says:

    Oh, sure, Savitri can write great & honestly insightful articles like this, but not ME, because…whoops! Thank, Savitriji, what a wonderfully perfect reminder. In joy, Dambara

  9. Gordana Milanko says:

    Thank you Savitri for sharing… beautiful…

  10. Nancy Cralle says:

    Dear Nabha,
    Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction for “Secrets of Self Acceptance.” I found it on Amazon.com. In joy and love, Nancy

  11. Brindey (Lee Powers) says:

    Dearest Savitri,
    Thank you so much for this article!.. I, am recently, through meditation and action, and watching somewhat impersonally begining to also get hold of the reality that as I accept, so I am, and so I act. That the more I accept the divine as the true reality in me, the less of self I am aware of. So even when I don’t act as I think I should, I remember what Swamiji said…Turn on the light in a dark room, don’t beat at it with a stick. That light, is re-affirming that I am made in Gods image and that is the TRUTH….and GOD don’t make NO Junk!!

  12. Thank you for this inspiring and encouraging article, Savitri.

  13. Lisa Clark says:

    Dear Savitri ~ Thank you for sharing your experiences and insight. I so appreciate your down-to-earth style. Beautifully written and very inspiring.

  14. Daniel Gandía says:

    Dear Savitri,
    Thank you very much for this, I’m going to impress it and having in my bedroom, when I would need I’ll read and I will be happy remembering that we are all Child’s God and that’s what matter.
    Greetings.

  15. Gurupriya says:

    Thank you very much for this inspiring article and the sharing of your personal struggle with this issue. I’m editing the Newsletter of Ananda Netherlands and would like to use this article, because it is a beautiful reminder for many of us. May I translate it in Dutch and use it in one of our next newsletters?
    Master’s Blessings
    Aum

  16. Amber says:

    Savitri,
    I have always seen you as a shining star of our path and a model of the type of devotee I emulate. Thank you for your beauty and honesty.
    Joy,
    Amber

  17. Jerry Champagne says:

    Dear Savitri, thank you so very much for sharing your story. I to struggle with self-esteem issues from time to time. It’s hard to find someone to speak with about these feelings. But, reading your article gives new hope. Great timing. In friendship, Jerry.

  18. Patricia says:

    I am glad I took the time to read this blog. It has some wonderful affirmations and suggestions, which I plan to use.
    Thank you Savitri!
    -Patricia

  19. Raj says:

    Namaskar, please post more thoughts about this self esteem issue. This article was really helpful. A sincere, simple post. God bless you.

  20. Janice says:

    Thanks Savitri!

  21. Kay says:

    Oh, thank you so much for this! This issue even prevents soul mates from being in a relationship with one another because of low self-esteem, which is sad for the partner, not just the person with low self esteem. They may not be a t the same emotional level, for example. The partner really suffers and can give guidance to the person, but ultimately, he/she must do it on their own, no matter how much love even sacrifice, there is for the person.