independent self worth


I have been studying the Heart Sutra of Buddhism recently with my calligraphy teacher. It serves to calm and helps me meditate. One premise of the sutra is that nothing exists independently and that all is relative. Forms and existence change and transform depending on the environment and other matters in existence. However, I beg to differ—our self worth and appreciation is independent and in fact, need not rely on anybody else or anything else.

This thought came about after a lunch meeting one day with an organization I am volunteering my time for. I had been with them for about 7 months by then and because I was also ill during that period, I could only do as much as I could. But it wasn’t nothing. In comes a 3rd person and suddenly he got all the attention and it seemed that he could change things around. Everything he said I had said 7 months ago and tried to do, and indeed was doing. So why was he “the one” and not me? Why were others listening to him and responding to his emails and not mine?

I felt disappointed, upset and ignored. I was insecure. I craved expressed appreciation from the people. I felt my efforts were overlooked and that I didn’t “promote” myself sufficiently vis-à-vis others. I felt suddenly stripped of my responsibilities and importance. My pride was hurt.

Yet, why was I diffident? For one, those “responsibilities” and “importance” should not matter because those are exactly the feelings that contributed to stress at work and that I wanted to get rid of. Two, just because things change does not mean I am not appreciated.

More importantly, my confidence, my worth, my value, should not be wholly dependent upon what other people accord to me. I know myself enough to appraise my own abilities and skills, and I may not be a sage but I dare say I can usually perceive quite accurately my environment and surrounding people to see where I stand amongst them. I have strengths and I have weaknesses, but that’s beside the point. The point is that I need to have faith in myself. I know what I have done for the organizations I have been involved in, and of course, I am not irreplaceable, but I have contributed. Comparisons sometimes serve to give us guidance and a benchmark, but I took it to the extreme.

There is no need to aggressively meet everyone at every networking event, to do everything and be in control. There is no need to fear that I am “missing out” or I have too little time to do everything. Who I am is independent from all of this. My worth does not roller coaster like the stocks depending on external factors. I am me, I have experience and I can continue to build on it in my own time. When others want to step on me, talk over me and take my place, they can very well do so. I will let them. I am not here to fight or compete. I just want to enjoy what I am doing.

I may be versatile and adapt to my environment, but I need not determine the value of “me” solely on others’ remarks. Self-worth is independent of most external factors.

So I’m just me. And that’s enough.

7 Responses

  1. kevlaria says:

    Being able to be self confident regardless of what others think of you is sadly pretty difficult. It takes one heck of a strong character not to be affected by what others think, and I guess there lies the problem – most of us aren’t strong enough to have faith in ourselves when people are ignoring or even criticising you.

    In fact, it could be said that someone who’s unaffected by what others think are stubborn, arrogant, too full of him/herself. There’s got to be a balance.

    • nochnoch says:

      indeed. its all about moderation aint it… too much confidence is arrogance. too little we belittle ourselves… but then, why not be arrogant if it was either or?

  2. Sentynel says:

    here are 2 of my favourite quotations – these sentences help me a lot to determine who I am and what is the most important.
    1. ” reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are”
    2. ” reputation makes you rich or makes you poor; character makes you happy or makes you miserable”

    You are right to choose to be ” you” because you are building your character for a lifetime and nobody but you knows what’s best for yourself! I don’t deny that what people think could affect our way of being, but at the end, they are not living YOUR life.
    be you, be natural with a deep inner beauty and strengh

  3. Kevin says:

    Hm. Perhaps because I have a irrational aversion to arrogance, if I had to choose one of the two I’d actually go for the opposite, even if it meant that I was an unhappy sod. I don’t know why.

    Btw, you care to explain the FXGGV42WE2G?

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.