The Core Fear That Sabotages Your Self-Esteem

An expert's simple-yet-effective tool for seeing your unique value in the world.

woman standing in sunset Hector Roqueta / Shutterstock

Most of us agree that if we were all the same, life wouldn’t be very interesting. There would be nothing special about anyone.

But not everyone can see the ways in which they are unique, the ways in which their specialness shines through and adds dimension to the universe.

When you don't see how special you are, it can take a toll on your feelings of worth. You believe that you're simply not as unique as other people. But you are.


Here’s how I see it: Everyone is standing before a huge wall. We’re all collectively painting a mural on this wall — each of us is painting with our own unique color.

Your specific, unique color is needed here. Our mural wouldn't be very interesting if we all had the same color. It would just be one big boring block of some color that we’re all sick of. 

RELATED: How To Grow Into The Kind Of Person you've Always Wanted To Be

You may not see how you’re special. You may think your color is boring, but that’s because you’re used to it. No one else is just like you, which makes you interesting.


Your color brings a dimension to our mural that is needed. It elevates the collective work of art.

If your color were absent, the mural would be lacking. It would be less than it could be. There would be less to be inspired by.

Your specific color makes a difference. Someone will see and be drawn to it, be curious about it, and feel seen because it is similar to their color.

Someone will see it and learn from it. Your color is meaningful to the world.

I see this clearly, all of us with our paintbrushes or spray cans working on this amazing, complex, colorful mural. Lots of people find it hard to value their contribution to the mural.

They find it hard to believe that their color does make a difference and is meaningful. They believe their color is not worth as much as other colors.


Simply put, they are wrong. Some colors are flashier or brighter than others, but they all have the same worth, just like people. Because we are alive, we are all worthy of respect, acceptance, and love.

RELATED: How To Live A Life That's Aligned With Your True Self, According To 86 Experts

We are all meaningful. We all contribute to the overall collective. We are all needed here. That’s just how it works.

If you ask 20 people what their favorite color is, very few of them — potentially none — will say “brown” because brown is not flashy. But can you imagine our world without brown??

Brown holds our world together! Brown may not be flashy, but it is needed.


Some people will vibe with your color, and some may not. That has to do with chemistry and psychodynamics and has nothing to do with your worth. Your color is as valuable as the person sitting across from you, regardless of how that person feels about it.

Now that we’re all clear, what does your specific color look like? Once you know what it looks like, you can intentionally paint with it. Your color is your you-ness, all the stuff that makes you you.

My color is my love for Cherry Pepsi, attachment to pelicans, anxiety about things going wrong, need for control, and dry sense of humor. Those are some of the things that make me me.

RELATED: In A World That Is Often Dark, Be The Light That People Need


Take a few minutes to consider your color. What makes you you? It doesn’t have to be just the “good” stuff. It’s the real stuff. That’s what’s meaningful. That’s what people will connect with and be impacted by.

Now, here comes the hard part:

Stop judging your color. Stop comparing it to other colors.

Just paint with it — that’s what it’s there for, and our mural needs it.


You are needed.

How to stop judging yourself

The next time you’re in a room with other people, notice what colors they paint with. Don’t judge the colors as “good” or “bad” notice them and your reaction to them. Back to chemistry and psychodynamics, you’ll have bigger reactions or responses to some colors than others.

That doesn’t mean any colors are “good” or “bad.” Remember, they all have the same worth. They are all needed, too.

RELATED: 15 Aura Colors & Their Spiritual Meanings

Suzanne Manser, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and expert in eating disorders, anxiety, and transforming your relationship with yourself. She has over 20 years of experience using evidence-based practices and offers individual therapy sessions, group therapy, consultations, and speaking engagements.