Self-worth is more than you think

by Theresa Marie Abec, FLT Columnist

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Self-worth is at the root of most of our issues and it manifests itself in many not so obvious ways. How you communicate yourself to others, your cognition and words inside your head and how you treat your body all reflect what you think about yourself — this is your self-worth. Self-worth is composed of your physical body, spirit, thoughts, will, intellect, behavior and personality characteristics.

Let’s look at “Rita” as she goes about her day to pinpoint examples of her view of self. Rita begins her day thinking: “It’s just a normal day…nothing good is going to happen to me today.” As she pulls into the parking lot, she smiles but avoids making eye contact with the parking attendant who asks her if it’s OK if she would park her car farther into the lot. She obligingly moves her car, but after the longer walk to her office building starts thinking: “It’s the attendant’s fault my feet hurt.”

As Rita enters her building, a peer comments on her necklace saying how gorgeous it is and Rita deflects by saying she bought it on sale. Despite her resolution to be more health conscious, she decides to ride the elevator up to her office, slurping her coffee and eating a donut on the way, daydreaming about situations in which she really is the hero. As she enters her office and sees another co-worker wearing a beautiful new dress, the very same dress that Rita admired at the mall recently but didn’t buy for herself…now she finds that she is simply annoyed, so she does not compliment her friend.

Outwardly, Rita may appear to have high self-worth because she is smiling and compliant, going about her day at work. But the truth is that she is resentful, tired of putting others’ needs before her own, and desires more for herself. Rita is not taking care of her body, not being assertive with her feelings, and has some negative thinking that is quietly eroding her self-worth.

Self-worth is something that is inside you and only you have the power to decide to increase or decrease it by the way you live today. We live in a culture that attempts to dictate to us externally who we should be, but true self-worth is an inside job. Living according to our core self-worth — having our outsides then match our insides — leads to higher self-worth. Sometimes our self-worth declines because we have forgotten who we are and are not living according to our core self.

Here is a simple self-test to identify low self-worth:

  • Do you shy away from offering your opinion because it may cause confrontation?
  • Are you reluctant to speak up in a group for fear of others’ reactions?
  • Do you feel pushed around by family, friends and coworkers?

Now, let’s create an environment to increase you self-worth:

  • Stand up for yourself and your belief system; don’t be afraid to defend your positions.
  • Start offering your opinion. When someone asks you where you would like to go for lunch, say a specific place, not: “Wherever you want to go.”
  • Don’t be bullied by “assertive” people. You will find that standing up for yourself with things as simple as “Where do you want to go to lunch?” will cause your self-worth to grow.

On a scale of 1-10, what number is your self-worth today? And if you would like your number to be higher, what do you have to do to increase your self-worth?

Theresa Marie Abec is a Board Certified Clinical Counselor and welcomes new patients looking for assistance with mental, physical and emotional life goals. She provides treatment and diagnosis for adults with mental health issues specializing in: substance use disorders, stress and anxiety, self-esteem issues, depression, grief and loss and overall health and wellness challenges. To schedule an appointment with Theresa call Serenity Health & Wellness Center at 419-891-2181.