"If you put a small value upon yourself,
rest assured that the world will not raise the price."
How you feel about yourself may actually affect the way your body defends itself against the various stresses and infective organisms that surround it. During infection, the body's white blood cells identify foreign microorganisms and then seek to devour or excrete them. The body's ability to identify its own cells distinct from foreign organisms or substances is vital for the healthy functioning of the organism.
But just as a person may sometimes experience a personal identity crisis, the body at times has difficulty differentiating itself from foreign life forms. Without the body's ability to detect "self" from "non-self", a person is prone to infection and disease. Since the body and mind are inexorably connected, one can only wonder if low self-esteem -- diminished sense of identity -- can lead to weaker immune function. As above, so below.
Self-Esteem and the Immune System
On the other hand, a high level of self-esteem, or a stronger sense of self, can lead to more vigorous immune response. While this doesn't mean that people with high self-esteem will never get sick, it does mean that they will be better equipped to deal with whatever stresses or diseases they encounter.
Each threat to our health can strengthen our ability to survive. Each symptom of disease, though painful and discomforting, is the organism's best efforts to respond to stress or infection. Likewise, each doubt about ourselves can be approached as a challenge to overcome. These symptoms and doubts can constitute an important personal defense and a potentially helpful lesson on how to live in the world.
Developing High Self-Esteem
Developing high self-esteem is particularly difficult if you have been continually told that you are a loser. It is helpful to know, however, that a "winner" in self-esteem is rarely a "born winner", but is often one who is successful because of the blood, sweat, and years that have been applied to a particular goal.
For instance, the first Western man to scale Mt. Everest failed the first two times. After the second time, he addressed his sponsors, the Board of Directors of the National Geographical Society. Rather than berate himself or apologize for his failures, he simply showed them a picture of Mt. Everest and said, "This mountain will never grow another inch, but with each failure, I learn and I grow." On his third attempt, he reached the top.
If you fail at something, or if people call you a loser, it's easy to feel terrible about yourself, get depressed, and become ill. The sickness cycle is created when you feel unhappy and insecure, and then become more depressed as a result of the illness.
We Are All Winners
A way out of this cycle will sound trite, but it's true: We need to remind ourselves that we really are all winners. When you think about it, each of our fathers created millions and millions of sperm, each of our mothers created egg after egg after egg... and we were the ones who made it! Each of us is worthy of a gold medal.
Self-esteem cannot be given to you or be bought, sold, or traded. If it is based solely on material successes, personal appearance, fame, or occupation, these transient and superficial factors provide only a temporary and often false sense of self-value. And if you pretend to have self-esteem, you just fool yourself. Ultimately, your life and your health function as your own lie detector test.
Self-esteem is inevitably an inside job, and this inner feeling radiates outward, creating a healthier body and a state of contagious good vibes. Self-esteem won't raise the dead, but it will raise everything else.
Don't just stand there -- full esteem ahead.
The Steps to Healing - Wisdom from the Sages, the Rosemarys, and the Times
by Dana Ullman, MPH
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About the Author
DANA ULLMAN M.P.H. has been certified in classical homeopathy by the leading organization in the U.S. for professional homeopaths. He is the founder of Homeopathic Educational Services which has co-published over 35 books on homeopathy with North Atlantic Books. Dana writes a regular column for the huffingtonpost.com website. His numerous books are available for purchase on Amazon by clicking here.