Meeting the Most Important Person in our Lives: Ourselves

23 May 2014

Most fashion magazines have articles on boosting self esteem and self confidence, and yet on the very next page there would be an article telling us why we are not good enough. The articles give the impression that self esteem can be acquired from the outside. The only problem is that the information is there to treat symptoms.

We seem to be in a daze, looking for solutions, doing what we can, going around in circles. We are caught up in the rat race of pop psychology with the expectation that the results would be instant all because we live in a world of instant satisfaction. It is moments like this that reminds me of the price we are paying, for having deposed the queen of the sciences Philosophy.

One of the best statements regarding the importance of philosophy is Aristotle's definition:

"Face to face with nature and with himself man reflects and endeavours to discover what the world is, and what he himself is."
St Thomas agrees with this view. He goes into a little more detail.
"Wisdom (philosophy) is the science which considers first and universal causes wisdom considers the first causes of all causes."
Most philosophers would agree that philosophy is the ultimate science of values.

Christianity teaching has to take some responsibility for the lack of self esteem (worth) in people. Christian teaching begins with the story of Jesus. This means that most of us grow up knowing that Jesus died for our sins. So the first impression we have of ourselves is that we are sinners. The amount of focus placed on Jesus having died for our sins overshadows the fact that we are created in the image of God. The over emphasis of Jesus having died for our sins presents the human as being pathetic before God. It is true that we live in a sinful world. A child is born with no sin, yet before he learns that he is created in the image of God. He learns that he is a sinner. David asked of God

"who is man that you should be mindful of him?"
(Psalm 8:4). Not to get too theological, but I have to do this. The character of David is a great example of a man who knew his limitations yet at the heart of his knowledge about who he was he knew that he was created in the image of God. It is from this understanding that he was able to approach God from a position of worthiness. This need not minimize what Jesus did, dying for our sins. We need to remember that before we were sinners God formed us in the womb (Psalm139:13). God does not create junk.

"I rested all my self-esteem on other's judgements of me,"
said Jules Evans. Most of us are not brave enough to take the time and meet the most important person in our lives, ourselves. Meeting ourselves and discovering our worth, like philosophy takes time and hard work. We rather have people decide our worth for us. And then we want to run games full of excuses and complaints about why we have not achieved success. The definition of success we are referring to is not even our own. Like the story of the Man who was looking for his lost key in the light. When his friend came along and asked him where he had lost his key he said in the house. His friend asked why he was looking outside. He replied because there is light outside. Taking the philosophical route at discovering our self and worth will lead us into the darkness. There is no person more important to find other than yourself. So that you may never find yourself reciting the following words:

I bargained with life for a penny,
and life would pay no more.
However I begged at evening
when I counted my scanty store.

For life is a just employer,
he gives what you ask
but once you have set wages ,
why you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial's hire,
only to learn , dismayed,
that any wage I had asked of life,
life would have willingly paid.
( Napoleon Hill 1937: 40)

The poem should serve as a reminder that we get out of life what we ask. We ask for what we think we are worth. It is the lack of a personal philosophy that has led people to go through life not knowing who they are and settling for less. Self esteem begins with knowing the genesis of who YOU are. In the words of Rabbi Weinberg

"If you don't know yourself, you know nothing. If you don't possess yourself, you posses nothing knowing yourself is the very basis of being alive."

Rakgadi Khobo

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