My self-worth - going once, going twice ...
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
12th February, 20140 Comments
When we think about popular programs like the Antiques Roadshow and similar, we may find ourselves well used to values being placed on the intangible, the seemingly valueless. Often these may be emotion sentiment, or the object has been part of an event. The item, which at first glance seems worthless yet on closer attention becomes desirable, draws gasps from the assembled audience and even jealous looks from onlookers.
In a strange way, this has parallels our self-worth, the way that we seem to value ourselves; we often put far more value in what we see in others and dismiss what we see in ourselves. In our analogy of the show, we have of course skipped one important character, the ‘expert’. Who shall ‘the expert’ be, that judges our worth? It is important if you are to value yourself, that that expert is you, because if it is anyone else then your values is being judged against their standards, against their life goals, against their principles.
If we believe that we have to fulfil other people’s expectations of us for success, then we can become depressed or even angry about whom we are or have become. Consider the young man who is brought up in a household that only values academic achievement. If this man does not do well in school or is not a success in those terms, he may come to think of himself as worthless, whatever his gifts might be (for example perhaps he is a great sportsman).
Consider the same young man, who is encouraged to celebrate his success in the areas he chooses to focus on. Now when he comes to judge his value, it is based on what he sees as valuable and what he sees as successful. The importance of being our own expert could not be clearer, choose someone else, and we risk getting a much lower price, from someone who is not the expert.
The metaphor of the television show can only take us so far though. When we talk about our self-worth it is important to realise, that it and our self-esteem have a big part to play in how we see ourselves in the world. Combined, they determine how we interact with the world, they protect us when someone says something unkind or unhelpful by determining the truth of the matter. They form part of our inner critic, and our self-worth and what is at stake.
Of course if you have had a life of conditions being placed on your worth it can be difficult to sweep them away, it can be difficult to stop listening when others are happy for you to bend to what they want you to do. So, often people need the help of a counsellor to help them find and build their self-esteem and self-worth.
You can build your self-worth and self-esteem, and it will come as no surprise to learn that they are very positive steps that can be taken. From simple things like doing something nice for someone else, where research has shown that acts of charity or altruism have a benefit for the giver as well as the recipient? They can be simple things like recognising your skills and talents and to stop trying to be perfect. Remember this is about being honest about your own goals, and principles so be realistic and stick to them and do not be unduly influenced by others.
In the end, when you come to value yourself there can only be one price tag PRICELESS!
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