sel worth“To admit or accept that something exists, is true, or is real.”

I was tempted to throw in a couple of quotes to back up the above, taken from an online dictionary. But in any relationship, business, family, intimate, and platonic it is surely essential to acknowledge and be acknowledged.

The definition concerns “something”. To me this suggests some thing, i.e. an actual item, a concept or an idea. The word acknowledged is very significant. If I am acknowledged then it may well be about what I say and what I do but ultimately in my worldview it is about being acknowledged for who I am.

Back briefly to Ben Elton’s brilliant Identity Crisis. Elton’s use of the phrase is satirised when placed in the context of identity politics because everything a person says or does constitutes who they are. The LGBTQ… alphabet soup is a collection of labels. I can understand, given the oppression faced by people of a different orientation, why this matters.

I wish to sidestep this debate. Easily done of course. I do not “self-identify” as a white male, I identify as consciousness. The acknowledgement I am referring to here has more to do with self-worth, and having one’s existence, often unspoken, given value. Let me give you an example.

If you know someone reasonably well you have an idea about their beliefs and values. You have a reasonable idea how they will respond in certain situations. Of course we often get this wrong and expect the person to act in a particular way and they do not. Cue conflict, argument or at the very least, words. What we also know about the familiar person is their background. Whilst we all may be consciousness and we are all connected, we differ in many ways.

Are we human doings or human beings? Rhetorical question. The acknowledgement I’m talking about here is obviously related to our being recognised as a human being. I suppose what I’m asking is what constitutes real identity? What lies behind our sexual preferences or attributes, what genuinely defines (thank you Ben) who we are?

Let’s throw in another politicised aspect. Do black lives matter more than white lives? How would reparations actually redress historical and contemporary discrimination? It is so easy to be dragged into the politics of identity and race. I have to keep checking myself otherwise I’m a step away from the quagmire of anti-Semitism.

Can we love someone and that love is reciprocated and not feel acknowledged? I’m suggesting we can. I’m sure someone else came up with it before him but my first encounter with the distinction between self-esteem and self-worth came from the lips of spiritual teacher and former Olympic gymnast Dan Millman. To Dan we have high self-esteem when we can do things well. We are acknowledged for being good at….. Self-worth on the other hand is about seeing ourselves and being seen as having worth, that the world is better off for our being in it. Self-esteem fluctuates and varies often depending on a situation; self-worth is more stable and a far greater contributor to personal and global mental health.

If you acknowledge me you are in effect saying “You have value, you have worth. I recognise what you bring to me, who you are and who you continue to be. I acknowledge your faults but firstly and always I acknowledge your strengths. All these things tell me who you are; your faults, your shadow may be part of you but I also acknowledge that you are taking steps consciously and unconsciously to grow and evolve.”

It should be apparent that to say this out loud would be like reading from a script and it would be difficult for the recipient to avoid feeling patronised. The closer the relationship the greater the need for each person to internalise this approach and for it to become who they both are.

In many ways being acknowledged is another way of saying being loved unconditionally. It is the relationship any parent worthy of the name has with their children. Acknowledgement is not a zero-sum game, in other words you do not have an “amount” of acknowledgement to spread around. If one person gets it another doesn’t. Just like your heart energy field it is unlimited and it is boundless. Your heart energy field shrinks under stress and it shrinks when someone hurts you.

If we all acknowledged each other our heart energy fields would be infinite and the world would be transformed in an instant. Let me close with another cliché. Charity begins at home.

The expression “The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step” is one of my favourites so let me use this as a vehicle for my suggestion:

The journey of personal and global transformation begins by acknowledging those closest to you.

I believe the expression Namaste is also a form of acknowledgement.

Namaste. Jack Stewart, October 1, 2019.


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