Self-esteem, ego, and self-worth are sometimes used interchangeably. How does a person’s self-esteem develop and why is it such a big deal? Can self-esteem become too important?
How do you evaluate your self worth? Does your self worth go up or down based on your accomplishments, who loves you or how much you have acquired or contributed? What causes your self worth to suffer? How would your self worth be affected if you lost your job, made a serious mistake or went through a divorce? Does a new dress increase your self-worth and how long does that last?
Can you imagine your self worth being stable? Sometimes people enter into counseling complaining of anxiety or depression only to find out the core difficulty is their low self worth. However a counselor will do a disservice if the goal becomes to “pump you up,” or “make you” feel better. A healthier solution or “soul-ution” is to examine the person’s sources of self-worth and disconnect unhealthy sources and tether their self-evaluation to healthy meaningful sources.
As a counselor, I spend many hours talking with people about self worth. I may be trying to help someone break through the binding need to make sure they have “pleased everyone,” or “not disappointed anyone.” In the next hour I might be trying to help someone understand that their emotional instability stems from over-valuing one thing that gives them their identity (work, their child’s grades, their social standing, financial status). Ironically there is another group of people who manage their damaged self worth or hidden fears by hardening their hearts and becoming sarcastic, hostile and intolerant of mistakes and “whiners.” These folks have managed the problem in a way that alleviates their suffering, but it inflicts the suffering on others.