What is the difference between self-esteem and self-respect? || Acharya Prashant (2013)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.


Student : Sir, what is the difference between self-esteem and self-respect?

Speaker : Apaar has asked the difference between self-esteem and self-respect. There is a great difference. Just going close to these two words and looking directly at them will tell us the difference. ‘Esteem’ comes from the same root from where ‘Estimation’ comes. Do you understand ‘Estimation’? You estimate something when you do not know it fully. ‘Estimation’ is ‘approximate’. ‘To estimate something’ is to know its limits and hence determine its size in a rough crude way.

Are you getting it?

To esteem something is to limit it; to esteem something is to estimate it. To say that ‘this has this much of size and no more’. ‘Self-estimation’ is hence self-image and that too a vague, hazy image. ‘Self-esteem’ is a self-image, an image that you have about yourself. The thing about this image, this estimation, this esteem is that it is static and has come from others. I think that I am strong and intelligent because somebody has told this to me. Everybody says ‘I am beautiful’, so I am beautiful. My self-esteem takes a particular shape, which is an image given by others.

You need to estimate only when you do not know, only when you do not know then you depend on others. Did you see the link?Estimation is not needed when you really know, when it is directly available.

If I ask you, if I ask somebody sitting at the back, what is the distance between your seat and this door? You will have to estimate because you don’t really, don’t exactly know. Am I right? But if I ask you, do you exist? Will you have to estimate or do you just know? How many of you are not wearing a wrist watch right now? Raise your hands. Alright.What is the time right now? Don’t look around; what is the time right now?

Student: 02:15

Speaker: 02:15, sit. Don’t look around. Those who are not wearing wrist watches will not look around. Somebody else who is not wearing a watch? Get up. What is the time right now?

Student: 02:30

Speaker: 02:30, sit down. Somebody else get up who is not wearing a watch. What is the time?

Student: 02:20

Speaker: 02:20. Do you know what they are doing? They are estimating and hence these approximate, rough, round-about figures – 02:15, 02:20, and 02:30. Did any of them say 02:42 and 11 seconds? They will not say that because it is just estimation. Now who is wearing a wrist watch? What is the time right now?

Student: 02:35

Speaker: Is it exactly 02:35? Look at it, clear. Somebody else who is wearing a wrist watch? Yes, what is the time?

Student: 02:35

Speaker: 02:35. Is it 02:35 really, 02:35:00?

Student: No Sir.

Speaker: Then tell me the time. What is the time? Alright sit down. Are you guys carrying mobile phones?

Students: Yes sir

Speaker: One of you who is carrying a mobile phone, get up and tell me the time. Quickly.

Student: 02:36

Speaker: 02:36:00?

Another student: 02:35

Speaker: 02:35:00?

Student: It’s not a digital clock.

Speaker: Do you see the difference here? What is happening? When you don’t really know, then what do you do?

All estimation is a kind of calculation. It’s a kind of guess work. It would always be inaccurate. And you estimate only when you don’t really know.

If I ask you, what is the mileage that your bike gives? You are justified if you give me estimation because you can never really give me an absolutely accurate figure. Right? At the most you will go to two places of decimals, three places of decimals but it would still be inaccurate, it would still be approximate. Right? And the mileage also keeps changing. With respect to anything external, estimation is alright because you can never have full and complete knowledge of the external. You travel from Delhi to this place and what does that sign of the road say, the distance is one hundred and fifty kilometers. Now is it really 150 kilometers? Which point to which point? Exactly, which point to which point and is that exact? Has this 150km thing been measured with absolute precision? No, there would always be an error. Right?  There would always be a certain error. The error can be small but nevertheless the error would always be present. Right?  In all external knowledge, estimation is inevitable. In all external things about the world, estimation is inevitable. It would necessarily happen.

But when it comes to the ‘self’ ,’self’ means ‘me’,when it comes to yourself, then if you start estimating, then if youpardon start being round-about, approximate, inaccurate, then there is a great problem. You may be limited in your knowledge of the external world; you may even depend upon others in your knowledge of the external world, all that is justified. But to not to know yourself directly and instead estimate it or depend on an image given by others when it comes to yourself, it is not pardonable. Life will become very difficult.

See, if I ask you how many students are sitting here, what will you do? You will estimate. Right? You will quickly estimate and say, ‘Sir so many’ because the others are others. If I ask you, ‘How many students are sitting here?’ you will estimate and tell me. But if I ask you, ‘Are you sitting here?’Will you still estimate? You will just surely say, ‘yes I am’.

Estimation is alright when it comes to others, the external world, the world rather, because the world is ‘external’. Right? But estimation cannot be justified when it comes to yourself.

What happens if I ask one of you, ‘Are you present here?’ and the fellow replies ‘probably yes’? What kind of a world that be? Apaar I ask you, ‘Are you present here, Apaar?’ and you say, ‘Let me think’ and then you ask your neighbor ,‘Am I present?’ and then you ask this one ,‘Do I really look like being present?’ ’Are both of you sure?’ ‘No, can I tell him I am present?’ ‘Sir, yes I think I am present and these two agree with me’. Now what kind of man would that be? Yes? Either a moron or a drunkard. Either he has drunk too much or something has eaten his brains out. Right? Any sane man just knows he doesn’t have to estimate. I ask you how many of you are here and you will have to estimate, that is alright. Who wants to count the exact number? Especially with the answer that has to be quick, who wants to count the exact number? But kindly do not estimate when it comes to your life, your mind. Do not depend on others. No need to have self-esteem. No need to have self-esteem, why? Because self-esteem comes from others.

Self-esteem comes from others. The world has told you that you are extremely smart and what do you start believing I am?

Students: Smart.

Speaker: This is self-esteem. The world is constantly telling you, you are not good looking because your colour is dark and you start believing it. This is self-esteem. A self-image coming from others is called?

Students: Self-esteem.

Speaker: Self-respect is a totally different thing.

Self-respect is a totally different thing. In fact, it is opposite of self-esteem. Self-respect is self-awareness, not borrowed awareness. A direct awareness. The word ‘respect’ is quite nice to look at. ‘Spect’ means to see and ‘re-spect’ means to see again. Look at things again. ‘Re-spect’ means to look at something again and again till you understand it. So self-respect is self-understanding. ‘Respect’ is understanding. Respect is?

Students: Understanding.

Speaker: So ,self-respect is self-awareness. Self-awareness is alright, self-image is never alright. Self-awareness isself image-others wonderful, self-awareness is a dynamic thing. Self-awareness means I know what is happening right now, whereas self-image is static. It says come what may I am a dude. Now there is nothing in your life that corroborates to the fact that you are a dude still you are holding that imagination.

Self-awareness is, I look at myself directly and I know what is happening. It flows, it changes moment to moment and it’s dynamic. So in the morning I was very attentive listening to a lecture, so what was I at that moment? Attentive. Right now I am not listening, so what am I right now? In-attentive. Self-awareness does not have a fixed label. It changes, it flows, it does not say that I am necessarily and always a good boy. When the mind is calm, then you are good. When the mind is not calm, then the same person is?

Students: Bad

Speaker: Whereas self-image will say if I am good I am good whatever I do I am good. No, that’s an image, that’s like a picture. You can have a picture of yourself in which you are smiling. Now are you smiling 24 hours? But the picture is smiling….

Students: 24 hours

Speaker : So that is self-image. The picture is smiling all the time. Does that, smile all of you, keeps smiling? But that is what your Facebook profile shows and they are always smiling, and the fellow has just posted all is lost, I am devastated, suicide and the picture is still?

Students: Smiling.

Speaker: RIP, gone, finished. The picture is still?

Student: Smiling.

Speaker: That is self-image. And not only is the picture smiling, others are coming and liking it, number of likes is increasing. Number of likes is increasing day by day. Why did you post that smiling picture? So that it may draw likes. Would you ever post a picture which everybody hates? You don’t do that, right? That’s a thing about self-image. It always searches the needs of others. I will do, I will present a face that others like and then they will give me nice comments-‘Wow’, ‘cutie’, ‘nice’, ‘handsome’, ‘what a babe’. Self-image, self-image, what can you do? What can you do?

You know there was this elephant. What? Elephant. So one day the elephant was feeling very belligerent. You understand belligerent? You know just itching to fight; I need to fight somebody today. So the elephant goes to the lion and says ‘come, fight me come’. The lion says,’this one is in a particularly evil mood today, avoid’. He says, ‘No, no I don’t want to fight’. Why not? ‘You are so big, so powerful, I don’t want to fight, go away and you are in a bad mood, I will not fight, Go’. The elephant says, ‘okay’. He goes to the bear and says, ‘come fight’. Bear says, ‘No I won’t fight’. Elephant asks, ‘why?’ Bear says, ‘look at yourself, look at your size and look at me how I can fight you?’ Elephant says, ‘alright’ and he goes to the fox and says, ‘come fight’. Fox says, ‘twenty foxes like me cannot fight you, why do you choose me? Leave me, let me go away, thank you’. Elephant says, ‘alright’, then he goes to a mouse and the mouse was having pinkish eyes that were running and the nose was also running. This big a mouse and the nose is running, eyes are also running. He says to the mouse, ‘come fight’. The mouse says, ’No I will not come’. So elephant asks, ‘why?’ ‘Today I am having little cold otherwise I would have shown you who is the boss’.

Self-image, what can you do about it? Surely the mouse was on Facebook and there were too many people who were telling him that you are bigger and mightier than an elephant. That’s what you have friends for who tell you that you know boss that you are as big as a dinosaur; the mouse, mousosaur.  Self-image, it always comes from others.

The tragedy is if others can give it, others can also take it away and then you feel that heartache. The one who allows his self-image to come from others will also have to bear the pain of his self-image being destroyed by others. You want to bear that pain? You want to be dependent on others? Then have a lot of self-awareness, self-awareness means I am looking directly at myself.

Self-awareness means I am looking directly at myself and self-image means I am looking at myself through the eyes of others. So no self-esteem. Self-respect is alright and self-respect is just self-awareness. What is self-respect?

Students: Self-awareness.

Speaker: Self-awareness. Is this clear? Alright.


Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session video: What is the difference between self-esteem and self-respect? || Acharya Prashant (2013)

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4 comments

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