A Way To Have Great Self-Esteem

I just finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is an excellent book for a number of reasons, but there was one passage that stopped me in my tracks. (For a little context, this is a book about creative living and Gilbert thinks that creativity is God. Like, if you do anything creative, it’s because God gave it to you.)

To live this way—free to create, free to explore—you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement, which I hope you will learn to cultivate.

I recognize that the word entitlement has dreadfully negative connotations, but I’d like to appropriate it here and put it to good use, because you will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don’t believe that you’re entitled to at least try. Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.

The poet David Whyte calls this sense of creative entitlement “the arrogance of belonging,” and claims that it is an absolutely vital privilege to cultivate if you wish to interact more vividly with life. Without this arrogance of belonging, you will never be able to take any creative risks whatsoever. Without it, you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety and into the frontiers of the beautiful and unexpected.

The arrogance of belonging is not about egotism or self-absorption. In a strange way, it’s the opposite; it is a divine force that will actually take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with life. Because often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, self-disgust, your self-judgment, your crushing sense of self-protection). The arrogance of belonging pulls you out of the darkest depths of self-hatred—not by saying “I am the greatest!” but merely by saying “I am here!”

I absolutely loved this idea of “the arrogance of belonging”. Every day that we are alive is grace from God. None of us deserve it, so the very fact that you remain must mean that God wants you to live, that he likes that you’re around. And that must mean that you have “a voice and a vision of your own” that God wants to be heard. What a delightful thought! To me, this is a much better source of self-esteem than any sort of compliment about my own appearance/personality/activity.

I think I’m just going to spend time today thinking, “God likes having me around.” over and over and over until it starts to sink in.

(Photo via Little Bellows)

Posted by Aanna on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

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