One thing that almost all transsexuals, indeed almost all people at all, suffer from is a very low level of self-esteem.

Confidence, empowerment, the feeling of having value to one’s self, and to others, is greatly desired. For a great part of my life, I have known such a deep feeling of worthlessness that it was impossible for me to imagine just what feeling good about myself would be like. I understood intellectually that such a feeling must be better than what I knew, that there must be a positive way to feel about my own existence, but I simply could not imagine how it might be achieved.  One thing I often wished for in those times was for someone to explain to me exactly how to achieve real and lasting self-worth. No one could, with simple admonishments to ‘cheer up’, or mindless brush-offs in the form of ‘you’ll get over all that in time’ being the rule.

I have learned the secret that I sought long ago, and I imagine I am not the only soul to have been so desperate simply to feel some degree of goodness about myself. Perhaps others might wish to know the mechanism by which self-worth is generated. Here it is.

Self-worth depends on just a few basic factors.
Self-worth comes greatly from feeling that one has taken a sufficient degree of useful and valid action in the world. The nature and type of that action is irrelevant. What matters is that one feels that the actions taken are both useful and valid.

By useful, the action must accomplish something that provides benefit of some sort to one’s self or to others, or both.

By valid, the action must fit within the individual’s personal ethical framework. The action must be considered appropriate, necessary, correct, proper, or acceptable to the self.

By sufficient degree of action, the amount of action taken must feel like it is enough…for now. This last point is absolutely vital, and is often a stumbling block for people. It must be incorporated into the individual that there is such a thing as having done enough for a given period of time. This may require determining real and concrete rules for action in relation to time. Vague estimates may sometime lead to a condition of feeling like one has never done enough. This is detrimental, and ultimately, destructive. One must develop a reasonable concept of effort.

One way to develop a reasonable concept of how much is enough is to truly incorporate the bromide of ‘Having Done One’s Best’. It is reasonably easy for most people, unless they are incapacitated by clinical levels of depression more suited to medication than words, to judge when they have more or less done the best that they can.

To judge that one has done one’s best, within the time available, with the available resources, and under whatever duress was ambient, is useful in learning how to determine when one has done enough. Use this tool, it is a cliché for a reason: it works.

A last part of relating to action in the world is actually remembering the things one has done, and thinking about them. Self-reflection is important to self-worth. One must make the effort to consistently, and as dispassionately as possible, reflect upon the actions one has taken. The important part here is not to fuss over the action, but to be able to feel the sheer weight of the effort. One has to actively make one’s own actions count.

Indeed, the concepts listed above for achievement can be broken down into some basic rules to observe:


Self-worth is not instant. It is a process, not a thing! Self-worth is constantly being sapped and demolished by the nature of our society, and even the physics of our universe. A person is responsible for their own happiness, and also for their own self-worth. Neither can really be bought, sold, given or accepted, despite all fuss to the contrary. Self-worth, and happiness for that matter, must be CONSTRUCTED OVER TIME.

A baby cannot immediately run, but must first crawl, then walk. Self-worth cannot be truly, permanently gained overnight. At best an illusion of self-importance can be gained by fame or sudden success, but this mirage quickly fades. Lasting good feelings can only be achieved by developing a basic technique of constantly generating them.

The technique is simple and must forever be used: there is no point at which one may slack off. One must DO. Take action, small at first, then gradually greater, building up. It is that simple.

One note about the nature of action: one ALWAYS takes action. Doing nothing is also an action. The key is to do whatever one does deliberately, even if that action is to do nothing. One must make the effort to take responsibility for both action, and inaction. Always be aware that one cannot help but choose. Choice is not a privilege; it is a fact of existence.

Choose actions to take that are well within the realm of success. Successes build self-confidence, and so one must stockpile them up. The successes do not need to be great, they need to be abundant.

This is an important point. There is sometimes the confusion that one must achieve great things to feel great. This is often counterproductive, because it can lead to attempting things far out of one’s league, and thus produce ego shattering failures. It is easy to understand that abundant failure breeds self-loathing. The reverse must be understood to be true as well. Abundant successes…even small ones…gradually create self-worth.

Huge successes are dramatic and can boost self-worth a great deal, if briefly. However the risk of failure is greater, and at the lowest levels of self-esteem this becomes critical. Tiny successes may seem too small to be satisfying, but over time they stockpile. Enough tiny successes can create sufficient confidence and self-knowledge to make larger action successful.

This too can be put into simple rules:

Even if one diligently applies all of the concepts above, it can come to naught if the drain of the environment is too great. Human beings are social creatures, we require other people -or at least other animals- and we gain much of our orientation and validation from social contact.

Other beings are our mirrors, they reflect to us what and who we are by the effect we have upon them. It must be understood, however, that not all mirrors are equal, and that some mirrors totally distort what they reflect.

If an individual is very lacking in self-worth, this can become a difficult issue. As social animals we hunger for company, and if we are low in self-esteem, we may feel unworthy of decent company and grateful for any attention at all. Poor quality attention, from unworthy people, is often worse than being alone for a while.

There is a fairly easy way to determine if the company one keeps is worth keeping, or should be actively avoided. Judge whether you are being raised or lowered emotionally. Does your companionship make you feel good?

If your companions consistently degrade you, if their comments and the overall emotional effect of them makes you feel bad about yourself, life, your plans and attempts at achievement, your happiness and usefulness, then your companions are destructive to you.

A worthwhile companion, a worthy friend, consistently helps to lift your spirits. This does not mean that they agree with you on everything, or support every plan you construct, rather it means that overall, they encourage rather than condemn, offer help rather than despair, and show that you are worth their time and effort, by consistent mutuality.

Unworthy people must be avoided. No matter who they are, what their relationship to you is, or their social or emotional connection. This is not a matter of ego or whim; this is a matter of survival. Avoid those who drag you down, who minimalize or abuse you, or otherwise depress and sadden you. Loneliness can be cured in time, but a bad relationship can drag on indefinitely and limit the chances of gaining better relationships.

A valid relationship is a mutual thing. It must be. If it is not, it is not real, and is best left. To be mutual, a relationship must show roughly balanced interaction: What is done is returned in kind. A valid relationship builds up, and enhances power, self-worth, and provides support and assistance. It is trustworthy and useful for all parties involved. If it is not, even if it be a bond of blood or law, it is poison, and must be abandoned if it cannot be changed into a valid form. This must be followed.

If the basic concept outlined above is consistently and diligently followed, the result will be a gradual build up of self-worth and confidence. With it will come an increase in satisfaction, contentment, and add to overall happiness. The basic principle is simple: start out with small successes, keep trying slightly greater things to achieve still greater successes, and surround yourself ONLY with supportive, mutual, encouraging people.

Over time it then becomes inevitable that self-worth and confidence will be the result. Here is a summary list of the basic rules as give
If one makes even a partial effort along these lines they will be rewarded by feeling better about themselves, and any progress helps make for more progress yet.

Diligent effort will be rewarded with maximum gain. Even if one cannot imagine what self-worth feels like, even if one is afraid of self-worth, these rules put forth a simple and functional plan to cling to, in order to achieve lasting and real self-worth. For those with gender issues, self-worth can often spell the difference between survival and destruction. Every living thing has the basic natural right to fight for it’s own survival. Bother to do so.

The basic principle is simple: start out with small successes, keep trying slightly greater things to achieve still greater successes, and surround yourself ONLY with supportive, mutual, encouraging people.


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