The past year has taught us much about self-isolation. The thoughts that manifest in seclusion or in a crowd of thousands, have the same effect upon us, our thoughts build our self-worth or deplete it. Beethoven’s self-inflicted isolation was from embarrassment of his hearing loss, such a paradox from one of history’s greatest composers who lost his worth for caring about what others think, a realization he came to later in his life
Depending on how we nurture self-worth we will feel mentally healthy or unhealthy. Mental health strategies is not about what you are doing to nurture your mental health, it is what you are feeling that fosters self-worth.
Self-worth is the lifeline to mental health.
Therefore, by acting as if we are taking care of our health, say for example exercising, eating well, it must translate to thinking positively about you. Feelings of how we think of our abilities and potential are what instill self-worth. If we are achieving in abundance but still feel disheartened, then we must look back at the moments when our self-worth waned and why.
We call this reflection.
The mind echoes many thoughts and we must choose what to reflect on consciously or unconsciously. A glance back to moments that wounded us enhances the realization of lost opportunities for building self-worth, and rather than ignoring those moments, we should have embraced them.
As humans we like to enjoy what is good, and are temporarily lost in feelings of satisfaction, but this is not the foundation of mental health.
Rather, mental health builds from the prolonged moments of feeling awful, terrible and embarrassed, shy or insulted. These are the paths for the greatest growth of self-worth. Referring back to Beethoven, it was the shame of not hearing that placed him in isolation and the contemplation of suicide, but it was reflecting on his suffering and not the act of performing that brought out his greatest potential.
In reflecting on the bad, we are forced to find a way out; to find any good that might exist. This is the exercise of self-worth. It precedes mental health, so mental health is not possible without it.
At your lowest points, you are made to do what you must to move on and be strong. That is what translates to a strong sense of self-worth; it’s the precursor of mental health. And, the more moments we take to acknowledge the bad, rather than ignore them, the more self-worth is accumulated, hence we are lead to feeling mentally strong.
The laws of physics might provide a starting point. Our self-worth equals the sum of our emotions over time. We often do not see the connection between physics and our emotional state of being. In fact, we see them as opposites, physics is the purest of sciences premised on universal scientific laws, and our emotions are literally the opposite and connected to the myriad of feelings that humans have.
Mental health then, is not about mental health. Rather it is about feeling mentally unhealthy. We often relate mental well-being with feeling healthy and the connection between mental health and well-being while correct can be misleading. Mental health is far more than satisfaction or temporal happiness. Have you ever felt that even if you do practice self-care, exercise, eat well, you still do not feel mentally strong and healthy?
This is because we have it wrong. Instead of nurturing mental health, we must nurture self-worth; for it is self-worth that drives the momentum for us to nurture our mental health.
Mental health flows from self-worth, so without self-worth we cannot aspire to a state of feeling mentally strong.
Mental health is the effect of a process of a lifetime’s worth of cognitive, social and psychological development. Hence your state of being in the present moment is a summary of millions of little self-worth nurturing moments that have brought you to this point.
It is the compilation of a broader personal wisdom of yourself that gives rise to your mental health. Your mental health is the zenith of interactions and moments you have had with yourself and others, ones that nurtured a sense that you are worthy.
Depending on the quality of those interactions, you have formed a self-identity; you feel a strong or weak sense of worthiness.
The health of your self-identity is self-worth, and mental health is not possible without it.
Hence, mental health is the self-worth you feel that is derived from who you think you are, who you want to be, and what you think of yourself. Your mental health is the way you think of you but the foundation for mental health lies upon and is derived from self-worth.
To feel mentally strong, we must achieve a self-worth that whispers persistently that we are worth the whole world, we are worth the troubles, we are worth the rewards, and we are worth all the good and bad of life because these are the building blocks of self-worth. In turn, our mental health answers to our self-worth, and self-worth only thrives on the inner message you give to yourself, the gift that you are worth it.
All other components of mental health are supers structures and while you nurture your mental health by performing activities of self-care to de-stress, there can be no maintenance of your mental health system without the foundation of a strong sense of self-worth. The mental health system will crumble, if the foundation is not resilient.
So what builds self-worth and how do we get on the path of achieving our optimal sense of self-worth? There is no list of specific goals, this would only limit the self-worth flow. It’s all in your heart and mind and the way you think. That’s it. So start believing that you are worth it because you truly are.