Being not "Doing"
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
We all recognise the importance of self esteem. Feeling comfortable with ourselves is the prerequisite to making space for others. However, many people do not have a positive perception of themselves. They tend to be insecure, put themselves down or carry lots of unwarranted guilt. What is the first step to building self esteem?
The first step to achieving a healthy self image is to understand the intrinsic worth of the human being. At the very foundation of every person there exists a Divine spark of infinite goodness and purity, which is totally independent of one's accomplishments and achievements.
To appreciate this we must understand the many layers of human existence and function. The most obvious layer of human expression is behavior- how we act and what we say. Behind our behavior there is emotion - the layer of feelings that often trigger our behavior patterns. But even how we feel can be controlled by intellect - the ability to process information, understand our surroundings, create ideas and make decisions.
These three layers of our personality (behavior, emotion and intellect) are referred to as the "garments of the soul". Like physical garments they enhance, beautify and give expression to our soul, but they do not define the essence of the soul itself. We are not defined by how we act, feel or think. The successful and talented individual is no better than the less competent, and failure in any one of these areas does not make us worthless, or affect our essential goodness. Behind all of these garments, at the very core of our essence, the indestructible spark of pure Divine energy remains intact.
When a baby is born there is great celebration with shouts of Mazel Tov and great festivities. What are we celebrating? At that point the child cannot succeed, produce or create. But we celebrate the very fact that a person exists and we welcome the new soul with its indestructible holiness
We are called human ‘beings', not human ‘doings'. Just being and existing has infinite worth and value. Of course we must strive to express our soul through positive thoughts, feelings and behavior. But even when we fail the deepest spark of life remains intact and can always be reconstructed.
So step one to towards a healthy self image is getting in touch with our essence. We need to learn to be comfortable with ourselves as we are, by appreciating the intrinsic value that we have just by existing.