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Sense of self-worth

Recently I watched a discussion on TV about the phenomenon of migration and the danger of religious fundamentalism. It was an interesting talk with a high-level politicain, a social worker, a comedian with migration background etc. It basically dealt with the dynamism of individuals and groups being excluded from society and as a result of that becoming a threat to that society. They all, without exception, came to the understanding that the cause of it all is the lack of a "sense of self-worth" within the individual, who then turns to groups or rather ideologies that promise to fill that gap; these groups being often spiritual/religious and sometimes radical in nature due to the pent up anger and fear of the oppressed.

I personally found that talk very interesting due to the fact I experienced that in my own life (and still struggle with it) and also because we are witnessing at the moment a mass migration here in Europe that presses this topic to the forefront.

So I would like to discuss that "sense of self-worth", what is it and how is it related to the act of looking ?

It's an interesting question. I'm not sure self-worth is the reason for radicalisation. I believe it's fear. Fear drives oppression and fundamentalism, and all the rest of it. Fear robs you your self-worth, too. I see it as part of the identity project and a buffer against threats. It seems that fear is also behind the dangerous combination of lack of self-worth and a sense of supreme superiority in some things. The whole issue is mechanical and automated like most of our reactions to the world.

In my youth I found consolation in faith, a sense of security. It's based on simplifying complicated things into rules that are seen as divine in origin and hence beyond questioning. I never was a fundamentalist but I can understand how it gives you a strong sense of security, especially when your group is big and/or has a long history, like in Christianity and Islam, for example. For a scared person, it can be the most valued commodity.

I believe most people suffer from lack of self-worth and are scared. If looking clears away the fear the issue of self-worth should become marginal.

If a person lacks the sense of self-worth he feels powerless, helpless which makes him fearful. He thirsts for life, for power but is afraid of it at the same time. Now if suddenly the opportunity arises for him to taste this power in himself, this raw force of life in its primal form he becomes drunk by it, overwhelmed by this sense of power. He becomes fearless; he is no more afraid of anything, even death cannot scare him and he begins to rape, torture, slaughter and even walk into his grave in an act of suicide-bombing. No he has no fear - he feels powerful, he feels he is now somebody.

There seems to be an underlying sense of being threatened or in danger but fear - I think that's not the appropriate term.

It appears to me that there are two primal symptoms of the sense of being in danger, two sides of the coin: fear and anger. Fear can make you intellectually smart, a strategist with low sense of self worth while anger gives you force, power and an over-inflated sense of self worth.

This is how I see it at the moment.

The tragic events in Paris brought me back to this thread, so let me try to get into this topic again...

Well, first when we think of self-worth the term self-esteem comes to mind as there is a tendency to confuse the two. But I see a fundamental difference between them.

Self-esteem is drived from my assumption of how other people evaluate me which might aswell be inaccurate because you never know what people really think of you. So Self-esteem is bound to my identity as a member of a family, group, society etc. and thus tied to the collective values of the people I'm surrounded by and most importantly the value I give to those external judgments.

So we always have to struggle for your self-esteem.

And value could be seen as the quantity of attention I pay to a given perception. Now Self-worth refers to an INHERENT value within me that is NOT derived from external judgments but is what it is and remains unchangeable.

So when we cease to pay attention to the natural sense of self, we fall into dependency of peoples attention. I'm still unsure how this really happens, it's really a strange phenomenon.

And this is where all this madness begins...everyone trying to pull attention to him/herself to compensate for the lack of a natural self-worth which is the inherent dignity in man (in German the word dignity is directly linked to the word value or worth).

So what i feel we do here is to regain our dignity as human beings, rediscover our true value by the simple act of feeling our natural sense of Self.

One Love...


Yup. Well said. Madness. It's like chasing your shadow.

What do you mean by natural self-worth? Where does it come from?

My reasoning comes form John's idea that if the fear (fear of life, to be precise, which is not fear in the sense we usually mean) is gone then the natural state reappears, and with it natural self-worth. Notice here that self-worth or self esteem happens outside your self, because everything that happens, happens outside your self. Nothing happens to or in your self. It just is.

What the events in Paris mean to me is that we are all terrorists in essence when we are under the shadow of fear of life. The islamists killing all those people just had their inhibitions, reasoning and compassion stripped away by brainwashing. I believe we all are capable of terrorism as long as we are sick and have the wrong circumstances contributing to it. Not that I hold actual terrorists not responsible for their actions, but they are mainly victims of circumstances and sickness.

Seppo, by natural self-worth I actually mean the sense of "me" and the recognition of it's unchanging nature and worth. And where does it come from...it's like saying where do I come from...honestly, I don't know... but I know I have "devalued" myself as a reaction to experiences of humiliation, especially in childhood.

So, in regards to the acts of terrorism I see humiliation as one of the main causes. That basically was the reasoning of the discussion that I mentioned before, which was focused on the situation within a country but it equally applies to the world as whole, I think.

I mean, the western powers (mainly USA and France) in the last years were engaged in forcefully destabilizing the entire middle eastern region and thus have been humiliating the people by confronting them with "superpowers" they couldn't cope with and that stirred up in them a sense of helplessness. Not that they were free from the root cause of human misery prior to that, of course not but what makes things escalate now are in my eyes acts of humiliation and the reactions to them. Naturally, they are trying to get out of that state of helplessness and shame by acting their anger out. But doing so however, they obviously increase the misery as they humiliate more and more people from the "other side" (at the end of the day there is no "other side"!). Now planes are setting out that do the same thing and the terrorists will certainly not stop their attacks. So here we go into the cycle of destruction and these acts of revenge just multiply and perpetuate that spiral of self-erosion.

And for me going through the recovery actually has been confronting me with personal experiences of that same nature, so to me it's an essential part of my recovery to recover my dignity without taking it from others.



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