How one treats one’s body and psyche speaks volumes about one’s self-esteem: abusing body or soul with harmful chemicals, behaviors, work overload, lack of personal time and space all denote poor self-regard. All of these behaviors and attitudes reveal a fundamental stance towards the self that is conditional and devoid of true self respect. Self-esteem based on achievement has been called contingent self-esteem or acquired self-esteem. Unlike contingent self-esteem, true self-esteem has nothing to do with a self-evaluation on the basis of achievement or the lack of it. A person truly comfortable in his own skin doesn’t say, ‘I am a worthy human being because I can do such and such,’ but says, ‘I am a worthy human being whether or not I can do such and such.’ Contingent self-esteem evaluates; true self-esteem accepts.
Gabor Maté, Scattered
Painting by Celia Jacobs