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Understanding Self-Worth & Self-Esteem

Hello there!

“What is this self inside us, this silent observer,
Severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us
And urge us to futile activity,
And in the end, Judge us still more severely,
For the errors into which his own reproaches drove us?”
– T.S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman

Life has a way of presenting us with challenges that test our resilience and strength. Recently, my daughters’ school, Harvard-Westlake, experienced a series of tragic events – three suicides in a span of six weeks (two students and a parent).

As the Chair of the Harvard-Westlake Mindfulness Club, I organized a series of workshops: “Raising Resilient Teens Mindfully with Brian Shier” in response to these tragedies.

One of the topics was: Self Worth & Self Esteem.

As we explored these concepts, I realized that the wisdom shared is also highly relevant and valuable for women entrepreneurs as we navigate the intricate paths of personal growth and self-discovery.

It’s essential to understand self-worth and self-esteem to flourish both personally and professionally.

Let’s dive into the differences between these two concepts and explore how a clear understanding of them can help us flourish in all aspects of our lives.

A common mistake that we all make is confusing self-esteem with self-worth. We often believe that the more we achieve, the more valuable we become. It’s crucial to recognize that we’re inherently valuable, even without our achievements.

Self-Worth & Self-Esteem: What’s the Difference?

Self-worth is the inherent belief that we are valuable, deserving of love, respect, and success. Deeply rooted in our sense of identity, self-worth represents the unwavering conviction in our own value, regardless of our achievements or failures.

Sadghuru shares a beautiful metaphor that illustrates our inherent value:

“If you eat a banana, over a few hours, this banana becomes part of a human being. Food transforming itself into a human form is not a simple thing, it is a great phenomena. But such a fabulous phenomenon is happening for most people in unawareness, they are not aware of how this happens.”

We value our laptops, mobile phones, our cars and homes but you can’t give any of those objects a banana. None of the material objects we engineer can take a banana and transform it. Only we can.

This powerful reminder emphasizes the incredible value we possess, simply by existing. Let that thought sink in. You are a fantastic phenomenon exactly how you are.

So what is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is the radiant confidence we hold in our abilities to achieve our goals and gracefully navigate life’s challenges. It is the vibrant expression of our accomplishments, the fuel that ignites our passion and drive, and the nourishment that springs from our experiences. As we conquer our goals and embrace the wisdom of our journey, our self-esteem blossoms, empowering us to rise higher and shine brighter.

Yet, amidst the glow of our achievements, it is vital to remember that our self-worth is not solely dependent on the milestones we reach or the obstacles we overcome. We must recognize and embrace our inherent value, separate from our accomplishments. Our self-esteem may be a beautiful reflection of our journey, but it is our self-worth that forms the core of our being. By acknowledging our intrinsic value, we can stand strong in the face of adversity, grounded in the knowledge that we are valuable and deserving of love, respect, and success – simply by existing.

It’s interesting to note that the concept of low self-esteem, which is so pervasive in our society, can be quite foreign to others. A poignant story that illustrates this involves His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When asked about low self-esteem during a gathering in the United States, he was puzzled and had to request a translation to understand the term.

Once the concept was explained to him, the Dalai Lama was genuinely taken aback. He could not fathom why anyone would feel such a way about themselves, as he believed that each person inherently possesses an inner light and value. This story serves as a powerful reminder that self-worth and self-esteem are not universal concepts and that our perspectives on these matters can be shaped by our upbringing, culture, and environment.

The fact that the Dalai Lama was initially unaware of the concept of low self-esteem highlights the importance of cultivating self-worth and self-esteem in our lives, particularly as women entrepreneurs. By recognizing our inherent value and embracing our inner light, we can build a strong foundation for personal and professional success.

As women entrepreneurs, let’s celebrate our achievements and honor the growth of our self-esteem. But let’s also cherish our self-worth, that unwavering conviction in our value that exists independently of our accomplishments. In doing so, we will be better equipped to embrace the full spectrum of our personal and professional lives, nurturing our radiant light from within.

May your continued journey of self-discovery lead you to a place of inner radiance, where you can harness the boundless potential that lies within your heart. I cannot wait to see you shine and soar, and together, let us create a world where every woman entrepreneur can thrive and flourish.

With love and light,


Kalika Yap quotes

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Female Founders

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