If you examine the lives of the greatest, the most successful people, you will find one trait jumping out at you, a quality they held uncompromisingly, an aspect of personality they all possessed: they might have been humble, yet they all operated with a degree of self-importance, they held their work in the greatest esteem, sometimes even blurring the line between proud and pride, between affirmation and arrogance.
Confidence comes from making yourself feel important, conviction comes from believing your work is important, and, contentment comes from making others feel important. That’s how you build a sense of self-importance. In fact, the ability to instill a sense of significance in others is a primary differentiator that sets apart leaders from bosses, the extraordinary from the average.
Self-importance is a term generally frowned upon, it is often held to be synonymous with ego, it may have a certain negative connotation to it, however, it is a necessary ingredient for successful living, particularly when it is leveraged properly.
Allow me to categorize the subject matter into two parts:
Believing you are important
When you feel what you do is important, if you believe in yourself, you gain great inner strength. Believing your work is significant, however small, feeds your self-esteem, such morale boosts your confidence, and confidence, a sense of self-importance, in turn, is a critical success factor in attaining your goals, be they spiritual endeavors or material pursuits.
How important you feel about yourself is greatly affected by three factors:
- First, how you see yourself
- Second, how successful you are in what you do
- And third, how others see you
If you sincerely work towards what matters to you, the first one gets a boost automatically. As one and two improve, the third one ceases to matter after a while.
Elsewhere, I once quoted a story from the life of Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel Laureate, Indian philosopher, and writer, I would like to share it here:
Tagore had a disciple who was very good at painting. However, he worried about what people thought about him, his work, and their opinions. So much so that it hindered his creativity. On multiple occasions, Tagore told him to listen to his heart, that when it came to art, he should draw what he cared about and that the canvas was supposed to be his playfield and not a dumpster of others’ opinions.
One day, he drew a beautiful portrait of Tagore. It was perfect in every sense. Tagore himself approved of it but the disciple remained unsure, he asked him if they should get others’ views on the portrait. Tagore thought it was a good opportunity to impart a lesson.
“Okay. If you really want to know what others think,” said Tagore, “go and place this portrait in a corner of a busy marketplace in the morning. Leave my original photo, a set of pencils, and a note asking people for their opinion. Let it be there for the whole day and bring it back here in the evening.”
The disciple concurred. Two days later he went back to Tagore. He was visibly upset and downright pensive.
“I’m shocked at my painting skills. You said it was perfect, but I knew it wasn’t. That’s what everyone else thinks too,” he scorned and flashed the portrait in front of Tagore. It was full of black marks. In fact, black spots had completely marred the canvas. People had marked mistakes all over the portrait.
Tagore maintained some quietude for a few minutes and said, “These opinions mean nothing. I still think it is perfect. What did you write on the note?”
“The note said, ‘Please compare this portrait with the original and mark wherever you see a mistake.’”
“Alright. Erase the black marks and take back the portrait. This time change your note to say, ‘Please compare with the original and correct any anomalies.’”
At the end of the experiment, he took the portrait back to Tagore and said, “There is not even one mark this time. How come? It’s the same sketch but no one corrected anything.”
“It’s easy to find faults, son. Most can’t distinguish fault from a feature. If they could, they would be busy making their own features and not finding faults in others. Trust your instincts when it comes to your own art.”
If you do not believe in what you do and who you are, how can you possibly expect others to endorse your proposition? Positive self-importance comes from being honest with yourself, your opinions about yourself, and your work. Learn to love yourself, take care of yourself, treat yourself, and believe in yourself, this is how you build a sense of self-importance.
Making others feel important
This is a quality all leaders possess, it helps create harmony and understanding in relationships. Irrespective of the nature of the relationship, professional or personal, if you wish to inspire someone, have them believe in you and make them your own, you need to make them feel important and give them a sense of self-importance.
When you make someone feel special, you create a special bond with that person, and your relationship and the leverage you have from it becomes special, it is a sign of love, of care, you automatically solicit positive emotions from the other person.
How do you make someone feel special?
There are three easy ways to make others feel important and special:
You will be amazed to see what a genuine compliment can do. There is always some goodness in everybody, focus on such goodness, and express it. That way, your compliment remains true, genuine, and a factual statement, and, its impact is profound and long-lasting. It is easier to nurture any relationship when both sides are happy.
When you show care with your words and gestures, you make the other person feel special, closer to you, and loved. Care does not mean you always have to do something grand, it could be simple little gestures to express your love and care, to show that they mean something to you, that, their well-being, their happiness, is important to you. You may want to read an interesting perspective – When Care Destroys Love.
When someone is talking to you, all you have to do is give them your undivided attention. This is where, from my observation, most people fall short, especially in a close relationship. When the other person is talking to you, and you make it a point to listen to them, they feel significant, important, special.
When you make others feel important, they gain strength, composure, and faith. In return, they are able to love you better and be there for you more. You must be genuine though.
Mulla Nasrudin went to a shop once. “I would like to buy a greeting card for a woman I love the most,” he said.
The shop owner showed a card that said, “You are the only one I live for, and the one I can die for.”
“This is beautiful,” said Mulla, “give me six of these.”
Ingenuity is transient, be real.
If you love yourself, you will find it easy to love others, if you feel important, you will make others feel the same. We make others feel what we truly are ourselves, deep within. If you want to feel everything that you are not presently, all you have to do is start giving it to others, Nature will reciprocate.
Go on! help someone feel special, make their day. Express yourself.
The importance of self-love and self-importance cannot be overstated, just like the importance of self-esteem. The greater our self-esteem, the greater are our chances of success in the material or spiritual world.
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The questions below expand on this concept and how our self-esteem is dependent on the choices we make, And these choices, in turn, help us build self-esteem in a healthy way.
How does low self-esteem affect weight loss?
With low self-esteem, our physical body is the most gullible and prominent victim. Some may respond to a lack of self-esteem by going into depression, drugs, or social isolation, but for many, they almost start disliking themselves. They start to believe that something’s wrong with them, that they are undeserving of what they have and even unworthy recipients of love. As such feelings deepen, it leads to chronic physical ailments or rapid weight gain.
Beneath low self-esteem is the underlying feeling of I-am-no-good, a subtle sense of shame. What is the solution you may ask?
Read more here.
Why is self-esteem important?
When you learn to love and accept yourself, a sense of self-esteem and self-acceptance builds automatically. You start to get in touch with yourself, your talents, and your capabilities. With that, you begin to get comfortable with yourself. Once you gain a certain ease with who you are, the need for external affirmations, the desire to acquire more, and the urge to be surrounded by people diminish drastically.
And, when your desires subside, the world looks beautiful and you feel full. Because, in that blessed moment, you realize that you already are a complete person, a beautiful person, and that there’s no need for anyone else to endorse or approve it. Read more here.
How does physical abuse affect a child’s self-esteem?
No matter how strong or rebellious a child may appear, however well he or she may seem to handle it, in truth, physical abuse totally destroys your self-esteem. When we are born, our first ideals are almost always our parents. I am not suggesting that parents should treat their children with kid gloves at all times. You’ve got to be firm when you ought to be.
It’s just that a family where truth is encouraged, where there’s open communication, where children are not lectured for every act that is contrary to a parent’s preference, such a family is bound to enjoy great bonding and love. Children brought up in such families will grow up to be confident individuals. Such children make compassionate adults and great leaders. Read more here.
How can I rebuild my self-esteem when it has been destroyed by others’ opinions?
Often, most of what others think about you is dependent on them, their own conditioning. It is not as much about you as it is about them. The more you realize this, the less bothered you will be by their opinions. There is little wisdom in chasing the ever-elusive thoughts of others. If, based on your actions, you see yourself a certain way and believe that with utmost conviction, the world will start seeing you that way too (if at all that matters to you).
How you see yourself matters a great deal more than how others see you because your happiness and peace are dependent on your own honest view of yourself. Read more here.
Why is it important to be yourself?
When you get into a race of trying to do better in comparison to another person, it becomes an endless and meaningless pursuit. You really do not have to become anyone else to be happy, to give meaning to your life. Imitation may be the best form of flattery, but when you aim to copy someone else, you lose your own identity; when you lose that, the very basis of your world — you and your inner strength — is shaken to the core.
In fact, it is more like taking the life out of living; only years remain. Pointless.
Be yourself. Discover yourself. Read more here.