Taking Back the Power of Self-Worth
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05/1/09 | Dr. Cheryl Saban | 10 Comments

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Cheryl Saban is a writer and social commentator who holds a Ph.D. in psychology.

Does someone else need to acknowledge our worth to make it real?  Do we crave outside affirmation of our value because we are insecure by nature? 

If women are insecure as a gender, we’ve been given reason to be.

A woman’s culture – our upbringing, our environment, social cues, and our own strongly held beliefs that nuance our experience – defines female status.  And though it’s quite obvious that women have made enormous gains in terms of rights and participation, the global picture of the status of women and girls is not so rosy. When a governing power holds stubbornly to rigid stereotypes, cultural mores, and antiquated mindsets, there may not be much wiggle room for women to discover and express their worth. 

Imagine that you’re a woman living in a country and society which denies you freedom of travel, forbids you to possess your own passport, complicates or denies your access to education and female-centric healthcare, restricts your participation in government, your ownership of property, your ability to obtain loans, to work outside the home, drive a car, or have custody of your children.  Wow.  Seems to me that this lack of freedom and autonomy could easily impact a woman’s feelings of worth, could it not? 

And then there’s the prickly issue of how crime investigations – particularly in rape cases – have been handled in the U.S.  The recent outrage at the backlog of unprocessed rape kits is well deserved.  Rape kits can provide investigators with the evidence they need to find and prosecute rapists, but yet, for some inexplicable reason, many kits are languishing, unprocessed.  How could this be allowed to happen? Does this say something about how we are valued and respected?

Yet, perhaps it’s not that simple. 

Tough as it may seem, we need to realize our worth in order to actualize it.  And step-by-step, we are making changes.  Women are being called upon to take on even more challenges in the current economic environment, and we are clearly up to the task.  Now we need to build our community and support each other. Those of us who have rediscovered our voices, who can expose and express our self-worth, need to help clear the road for those among us who still struggle.

The Dalai Lama said, “According to Buddhism, individuals are masters of their own destiny.  And all living beings are believed to possess the nature of the Primordial Buddha, Samantabhadra -- the potential or seed of enlightenment, within them.  So.  Our future is in our own hands.  What greater free will do we need?”

Indeed.  Perhaps as young girls and women, we will be able to express that free will once more of us are able to model that behavior. 

What do you think about self-worth? We are all part of this important narrative. Share your thoughts with me.

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  • Although I've just read your post, it seems even more meaningful at this time of year, New Year's eve, to reflect upon self worth. We truly do hold the key to our own enlightenment. It strikes me that, as many women do, we question our self worth, rather than building upon what we know to be true. I guess wonder is a part of life long learning, and that in itself is a powerful tool.

    Posted by kathie, 31 December 2009.

  • Yes! Thank you for reminding us of our responsibility to share our belief in ourselves! It continues to empower us and influences those around us. It can be done by sharing stories or simply by attitude. It's contagious and important! We do create our own reality!

    Posted by Leanne Meyers, 4 May 2009.

  • Thank you for reminding us that without deep belief in ourselves and claiming our worth, the road ahead for all women will continue to be viewed as impossible to travel.

    Posted by Ana M. Geraldino, 4 May 2009.

  • Thank you for this message. Although "we've come a long way baby", we have a ways to go! I too especially love the Dali Lama reference. Inspiring!!

    Posted by Laura Roehrick, 2 May 2009.

  • Cheryl, kudos to you. Thank you for your inspiring reminder. The "a ha" moment...You re-ignite the spirit in women.

    Posted by Judy Reidy, 1 May 2009.

  • Thank you Cheryl! I appreciate your inspiring call to action for women to appreciate their own self worth. It is astonishing that stories such as the rape kit backlog still exist today.

    Posted by Anne, 1 May 2009.

  • This makes a great point. We as women need to support other women that stand up and speak out - whether about the rape kits, sexual harrassment, or general repression in other countries, - rather then try to knock each other down as often happens.

    Posted by Kathryn, 1 May 2009.

  • "Those of us who have rediscovered our voices, who can expose and express our self-worth, need to help clear the road for those among us who still struggle..." Cheryl Saban.

    Bravo, Cheryl. I couldn't agree more.

    Posted by DonnaD, 1 May 2009.

  • The Dalai Lama part is awesome.

    Posted by AliceB, 1 May 2009.

  • Thank you Cheryl for this incredibly important message. We as women have been marginalized -- and are currently marginalized in many societies, many workplaces, many homes. By acknowledging the challenges, and by banding together, we women -- and the men who support us! -- have all the power to change this situation.

    Posted by meliayates, 1 May 2009.