Where do you get self-worth?
Where do you get self-worth from? Do you get it from success in your work? Do you get it from having a lot of money? Do you get it from attracting a lot of men or a lot of women?
How fragile all that is, how transitory. Self-worth is really about how we are reflected in the mirrors of other people’s minds. One understands one’s personal worth when one no longer identifies or defines one’s self in terms of these transient things. I’m not beautiful because everyone says I’m beautiful. I’m really neither beautiful nor ugly. These are things that come and go. I could be suddenly transformed into a very ugly creature tomorrow, but it is still “I.” What if I get plastic surgery and become beautiful again. Does the “I” really become beautiful?
You know, pleasant experiences make life delightful, but they don’t lead to growth. What leads to growth is painful experiences. Suffering points to an area in you where you have not yet grown, where you need to grow and be transformed and change. If you knew how to use that suffering you would grow. Let’s talk about psychological suffering, all those negative emotions we have. Don’t waste your time on them. The disappointment you experience when things don’t turn out as you, look at what it says about you. Observe it as you would observe it in another person. Look at that disappointment, that depression you experience when you are criticized. What does that say about you?
Have you heard about the guy who said, “Who says that worry doesn’t help? It
certainly does help. Every time I worry about something it doesn’t happen!” I guess it helped him. Or the other guy who says, “The neurotic is a person who worries about something that did not happen in the past. He’s not like us normal people who worry about things that will not happen in the future.” That’s the issue. That worry, that anxiety, what does it say about you?
Every negative feeling is useful for awareness, for understanding. They give you the opportunity to feel it, to watch it from the outside. In the beginning, the depression will still be there, but you will have cut your connection with it. Gradually you will understand the depression. As you understand it, it will occur less frequently, and will disappear altogether. Maybe, but by that time it won’t matter too much. Before enlightenment I used to be depressed. After enlightenment I continue to be depressed. But you get the state of wakefulness. This is the state where you drop desires.