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Holding Your Head High
|by P. G. R. Nair|
My family and I were once returning to Cochin from Mysore. It was close to 1 AM when we reached Tellichery. Torrential rain and whistling wind had been hampering our journey. Our driver looked drained of energy and I suggested that we should halt at a restaurant for a cup of coffee. Luckily we spotted one. It was a clean, well lighted place with a sparkling lobby.
As we stepped into the lobby, we grimed the floor with the dirt and mud oozing from our shoes. I saw a small boy standing in a corner with a mop in his hand. As customers entered the lobby, he rushed to swab the stains left by their shoes. In the wee hours of that night, his fervent concern in mopping the floor fascinated me.
As we left the restaurant, I approached the boy, asked his name and tipped him with a ten rupee note. The boy looked perplexed and asked me why I had given him the money. I told him that I was impressed with his commitment and hence the tip. The boy instantly gave the money back to me and said that it was his job and he was paid for it. As my good action suffered a surprise setback, I tried to save my face by thrusting the money into his pocket. The boy was equally vehement in ejecting it.
To avoid further embarrassment, I quickly picked up the note and rushed to my car. As I sat in the car I thought about the remarkable self-esteem of that boy. The words of President Richard Nixon came to my mind “Scrubbing floors or emptying bedpans has as much dignity as the Presidency”.
Self esteem is a supreme quality we should nurture in our lives. Self-esteem isn't about having a Rado watch or Ray Ban glasses. It isn't bragging about how great you are or you look. It's more like quietly knowing that you're worth a lot (priceless, in fact!). It's not about thinking you're perfect, no one is, but knowing that you're worthy of being loved and accepted. Good self-esteem is important to hold your head high. It lets you respect yourself, even when you make mistakes. And when you respect yourself, others respect you.
In Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ there is an incident where Napoleon Bonaparte meets the Russian ambassador. To test whether the ambassador will side with him, Napoleon takes out his handkerchief, wipes his face and intentionally drops it on the floor, to see whether the ambassador would pick it up for him. On seeing this, the Russian ambassador takes out his own handkerchief, wipes his face and lets it fall to the floor. He then kneels down, picks up his handkerchief and puts it in his pocket. The incident wins the instant admiration of Napoleon. Self esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves.
Your relationship with YOU is the core of all your relationships. How you rate yourself acts as a guide to other relationships. If your self-esteem is high, there is a good chance that your family relationships will be strong. Unless you perceive yourself as valuable and worthy, you will be incapable of developing self esteem in others. “You cannot lead a Cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse”.
It was the deep self esteem of Mahatma Gandhi that incited him to rebel against British rule when he was thrown out of a first class compartment in South Africa. Black became equal to white by the dignified struggle of the martyr Martin Luther King Jr.
We should strive to elevate our self esteem and help others to hold their head high.
There are some things we can do to help to promote higher levels of self-esteem. Make a list of the most important accomplishments you have made in 2006. Well, none of them may get an entry into the Guinness book of records. But, they are still records of your self worth. Surround yourself with positive thinkers and people with pragmatic perspectives.
Often, the people with whom you associate can have an impact on your self-esteem. Accept that there are certain things about you that you cannot change. You should learn to love your skin color and shoe size because they are part of you. Getting into the habit of forming realistic expectations of yourself based on your current abilities can improve your confidence and self worth. Engaging in a new activity or diversion such as writing blogs in websites like ‘Boloji’ can tremendously heighten self esteem.
For many cloistered guys, who lacked self confidence in the past, writing a blog has helped to establish their presence in the world. Not only is the blogger often well received on the internet, but the blogger becomes a more confident being in the offline world as well. With the new found self esteem, the person's career, business, studies, professional practice, and interpersonal relationships could take on a more positive tone.
As Henry David Thoreau once said ‘“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” You may choose to blame yourself and feel guilty of your shortcomings. Or you may choose to affirm in the good qualities that lie within you. The choice is yours.
Remember, ‘Nobody can make you inferior without your consent’
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