Monday, 27 January 2014

Self Worth...

About two years ago, I wrote what is now my most visited post of all time - The Loneliness of Motherhood. When I look at my stats I can see the search terms people use to discover this post and it makes me really sad. Are we a nation of lonely people who cannot reach out to others? Without a decent support network or simply anyone to talk to? Like a lot of people, I am proud in my loneliness, that is not to say that I am proud of being lonely, but simply that I would never want to accept sympathy or false friendship because occasionally being alone makes me sad.  I have certainly found as I've got older that people seem to be more and more concerned with what is going on in their own lives, and turn a blind eye to whatever is going on out side of their immediate circle. I guess it's a coping strategy.

For me though, I feel I've gone the other way. I guess as I've "matured" I've become less egocentric and more concerned for others, my empathy levels seem heightened to a level where I almost can't bear it and I desperately want to help others in need. I've stopped judging people harshly and feel ready to excuse people when they behave badly. What I've learned is that we never know what's going on in the background of someone's life and the struggles and challenges they face.

I learned something really important recently - true self worth only comes from living a life of integrity. Recently I had the opportunity to avoid something that was going to be really hard for me, I could have got out of it and pretended it had nothing to do with me. That something was the decision I took to save our local children's centre. Just before Christmas with the support of another group doing the same thing for their local centre, I started an e-petition and submitted it to the council. I only got 76 signatures in the end but that was enough for me to be invited to full council and present my case. I started attending the children's centre in Bingley some years ago; it is the only place I have ever felt accepted since we moved here 6 years ago - the mums there are really kind and friendly, I like the fact that the families who attend have a mixture of backgrounds and it works really well. Without the children's centre I would be even more lonely than I already am. I guess you could say that my motives were selfish in wanting to keep the centre open, but the services it provides for vulnerable and not so vulnerable people in our community are utterly vital.

I've done some scary things, like travelling alone and living abroad - but this was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I prepared a speech and spoke to the entire council in "chamber", I was addressed by the Lord Mayor, I was totally terrified and could hardly speak. Anyway, I put my case across and even got some "here heres", at about three points during my speech I was almost overcome with emotion, but I got to the end somehow. I totally believed in what I was doing and the right of it, and the day afterwards I felt utterly elated.
Yes it was like being in court, I spoke in the raised section at the back of the photo.

A feeling like that you don't get from:-
  • excluding others.
  • showing off about what you have.
  • shouting someone else down and forcing your opinion on them.
  • making others miserable by your actions.
  • talking about your achievements.
  • earning lots of money
  • having a huge house
  • having a lovely car.
I can confirm that doing the right thing is the only path to true self worth and it's a journey I now find myself on. That's not to say I won't stray or make mistakes, but I can see my future so much more clearly now and it's a future I can look forward to.  Even if the decision is taken to close the children's centre I can honestly say that I tried my best to stop that happening.

What are your experiences of self worth and self esteem? How would you define them?

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