Self-worth is an internal state of being that comes from self-understanding, self-acceptance, self-compassion and self-love. Its a direct measure of how you value and regard yourself despite the opinions of others, and the circumstances you are in. To have a high level of self-worth means feeling worthy and deserving of good things such as happiness, health, wealth, success and love, irrespective of the difficulties you encounter, the disappointments and failures you experience, and the criticisms you face from others. To have a high level of self-worth also means never allowing yourself to be defined or limited by outside forces which include individuals and systems that shake your confidence, or lose faith in yourself.
The lack of self-worth is an invisible handicap and a state of powerlessness that stems from one pivotal thought – “I am not enough.” Its driven by the internal belief – “I am not enough without the things I DO to justify my existence.” Dr. Brene Brown, a research professor in the University of Houston says that when we don’t believe in our self-worth, we start looking for it elsewhere. We beg those around us to give us our value and embark on a life-long campaign of seeking approval from others. Brown calls it “hustling for your worthiness.” The tragedy of “hustling for your worthiness” is that very often you will look for the greatest challenge in securing it. Since you yourself don’t believe that you are enough, you look to the most distant, disinterested of contenders to give you that validation. “Hustling for your worthiness” leaves you peddling for approval by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing and proving. At its worst, you find yourself outside of your authentic self and living on the sidelines, to look good to others.
Are YOU living on the sidelines and delaying your healing?
Here’s a quick check to see if you’re living on the sidelines:
- Are you a people-pleaser? Do you spend much of your life trying to make sure that everyone approves of you? Do you have difficulty saying ‘NO’? People-pleasing is an unhealthy pattern of behavior that results in physical exhaustion and self-neglect, unexpressed resentment and anger, stress and depression.
- Are you hiding parts of your story for fear of rejection and judgment? Do you find yourself having to lie frequently to create an impression or maintain a false facade?
- Are you afraid of intimacy? Intimacy requires being witnessed on a deep level by a partner, and if you have difficulty accepting yourself, it can feel incredibly vulnerable to expose yourself to a partner, and run the risk of them rejecting you. We live in an age where we don’t want others to see us struggling. Our stories are not meant for everyone anyway. Reserve that privilege for the precious few who have earned the right to sit with you and hold space in your moments of vulnerability; those who will show up for you and embrace both your strengths and your struggles. A handful of trust-worthy friends whom you can be completely honest with, can go a long way towards forming the support structure for your healing.
- Do you avoid dealing with deep soul pain for fear it will leave you isolated, or inflict even more pain? “Hustling for your worthiness” is an excellent numbing agent to confronting your fear, shame, and pain. Let’s take a moment here to understand the difference between shame and guilt. Dr. Brown, describes healthy shame as being guilt. Guilt can be healthy in moving us toward positive thinking and behavior. It is specific in its focus. Shame, when toxic, is a paralyzing global assessment of oneself as a person. When brutal, it can form the lens through which all self-evaluation is viewed. As such, some words used to express the emotion of shame include feeling insecure, worthless, stupid, foolish, silly, inadequate or simply less than.
- Are you embracing some form of chosen addiction to shield yourself from pain? Apart from substance abuse, addiction includes over-eating, over-spending, excessive video-gaming, gambling, workaholism, sexual addiction, pornography, excessive exercising and hoarding.
- Do you devise elaborate adaptive behaviors that serve to deflect attention away from the ‘you’ that’s hurting? Are you that theatrical, ‘joke-a-minute’ kind of guy who uses humor to disconnect yourself from anyone who tries to get close to you? Injuries to self worth, especially from childhood, may have caused you to formulate such complex coping mechanisms to avoid rejection, but they do not work favorably for you as an adult and the emotional isolation it creates affects valuable relationships with family and close, genuine friends.
- Are you engaging in spiritual-bypass? Spiritual-bypass is a mechanism of denial that looks more attractive than other addictions but still serves the same purpose of emotional isolation borne out of the fear of rejection. Spiritual-bypass is a “tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues and psychological wounds”. The term was first coined in 1984 by John Welwood, a Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. Spiritual bypass is a great cover-up that helps in the denial of your personal pain and the undeserved, toxic shame that has been put on you. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, over-trusting characterized by porous boundaries, debilitating judgment about one’s negativity, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher state of bliss. Spiritual bypassing disconnects you not only from your difficult personal issues, but also from your own authentic spirituality, leaving you stranded in a metaphysical limbo – a zone of superficial nirvana. It rewards you with a false feeling of security and happiness, while undermining your deeper path of self-growth and transformation.
Benefits of Counseling for Self-Worth issues
What we observe in our practice at Therapy Rocks is that poor self-worth is the underlying malaise associated with anxiety, depression, addiction, codependence, failed relationships, and even more tragically, lives lived out in mediocrity.
Many of us are born with an intact amount of self-worth at birth, but even with the best upbringing, we are bound to encounter disapproving authority figures, restrictive family structures with belief systems that curb freedom, and unforgiving education systems built on unhealthy competition. These experiences chip away at our sense of self-worth.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is used in counseling to help our clients witness how their limiting negative thoughts and core beliefs contribute strongly to how they actually experience their lives. This treatment requires the active involvement of the client and takes a very practical and focused approach to the problem in question.
Clients are engaged by helping them understand the relationship between their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They learn to identify restricting or negative thoughts and unhelpful behaviors and work on replacing them with helpful, positive ones.
As professional psychotherapists, we have substantial experience and training in developing suitable, individual therapies to assist our clients. We work with our clients to develop a partnership where they feel comfortable planning their therapy with us. We assist them to practice new skills and techniques, both during the therapy and in between sessions. CBT is an outcome-focused therapy, and while the goal is to address a specific issue, clients are able to use the skills they learn, to enhance other areas of their lives.
You don’t have to feel alone, lost or afraid anymore. A professional therapist at Therapy Rocks is a knowledgeable guide who can help you find a solution for your emotional pain.
Could You or someone close benefit from counselling or psychotherapy? Take the first step, in Singapore call +65 97426259 or EMAIL us. You can also read our Client & Peer TESTIMONIALS, review the PACKAGE PRICING, or simply find out more about Us.
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