In Inquiry Method language we use the term Self-Image to indicate the complete way in which we see ourselves and how we perceive we are seen by the world. Self-Image is then constructed of two parts: Self-Worth and Self-Identity.
Self-Identity is my mental construct of self. It is who I think I am, my roles, my culture, my beliefs, my abilities, my language, my appearance, my possessions. The way we heal around our Self-Identity is to become aware that these things, this materialization of self, is not us. That we can change or dis-identify with any aspect of Self-Identity.
This capacity to dis-identify is truly freeing, as I no longer think or feel that my Self-Identity is me, I no longer take it so personally nor do I need to expend so much energy trying to control it. The less I identify with Self-Identity the less I am focused on the symbols of success and failure and the more present, process oriented, flexible and responsive to life I am.
Self-Worth is my emotional perception of myself. My judgments about myself. I am a good or bad person, there is something wrong with me. I am too angry or very intelligent, lovable or unlovable, essentially worthy or unworthy. The struggle with Self-Worth is heartbreaking. It began with the breaking of our heart, our spirit.
Within our sense of Self-Worth is a series of judgments that some aspects of me are good and some aspects of me are bad. As I disown parts of myself I begin to shut down critical systems. As I make parts of myself unworthy I loose critical capacities that I need to fully live life.
To heal my Self-Worth I must go back and accept every aspect of myself that I was taught was unworthy and recognize the inherent worth of every aspect of myself. In this process we discover and start to live from a place that everything arising in myself is worthy, has something to tell me. Through the process of deep acceptance of self we recover and reconnect with the guidance offered by our emotions and Inner-Knowing.
As I heal my Self-Worth I begin to recover that worthiness, the self love and acceptance that is our birthright as human beings. Each one of us is worthy in ourselves, is worthy of love and acceptance. Each one of has deep gifts just in our humanity that are lurking just below the surface of our shattered Self-Worth.
Self-Worth is distinct from Self-Esteem. Once we have our Self-Worth, once we begin to hold ourselves in worthiness in the world, once we begin to honor what is arising in ourselves,, we can tap into the artist or creator withing us. Self-Esteem goes beyond our inherent inner worthiness, it is what we feel when we have been fully expressed, when we give our contribution outside of ourselves. Self-Esteem is what we feel when we have done something well, job well done.
We cannot get to Self-Esteem without Self-Worth. We must feel worthy as human beings before we can find the artist or creator within. We must be able to break out of our Self-Identity to be free enough to express it.