Home | Human Flourishing | Personal Development | Self Worth on Trial
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | June 2013 (edited March 13, 2022)
Persistent self shaming thoughts disrupt our lives. We can soften their impact and silence the inner critic.
Some children suffer insecurity because of a bully parent. Other children have healthy childhoods but still suffer from insecurity; maybe from a long-forgotten experience or simply their sensitive biological programming. Some people are born more sensitive and susceptible to experience, while other possess characteristics that attract unfavorable responses. Many unknown factors combine to construct the insecure personality.
The causes are many and complex, woven together, stacked on top of the moment, and generate emotion. We can’t blame the person for insecurity. We don’t know why they feel what they do. We must accept that they feel afraid and the fear influences their relationships.
"Self-worth is at the core of our very selves—our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intimately tied into how we view our worthiness and value as human beings."
Courtney E. Ackerman, MA. | Positive Psychology
Inner Feelings Doubting of Self Worth
A pernicious feeling continuously nags, convincing them of their insufficiency. “I’m not good enough,” constantly echoes, stirring debilitating shame. For those suffering, proving personal worth is an unfulfilling venture. They always feel tasked with convincing others of a worth that their heart continually denies. For many, a little demon whispers—and sometimes shouts, “you can’t do this. You aren’t good enough.” No matter the outside proof, doubts of personal suitability persist.
"I know from personal experience how fear and low self worth can cripple one's ability to succeed in life. But with a little support, caring and inspiration, miracles can happen."
Insecurity is Not a Choice
The stupid solution often given to the insecure, a snippety little comment with well-intentioned hope to guide is, “you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.” Yea, well thanks, Mr. Obvious. Our inner-hunger for proof of self-worth remains—logically we know the fear is unreasonable, but it persists.
Continually seeking assurance is trying to fill a void that cannot be filled. Maybe the Freudian super-ego drives this disease; the integrated pecking from a displeased parent lives in the cells, continually reminding, you are a failure.
Insecurity constantly craves acceptance. Insecurities and the accompanying social feelings of shame, guilt and sorrow interfere with personal growth and disrupt relationships. The insecurity seeks—and sometime event creates—the reasons to believe we are inferior.
Self Worth vs. Self Confidence
Self-worth differs from self-confidence. Healthy self-confidence corresponds with trust in personal ability. Self-confidence, strengthened by a pattern of successes, is built into reality. If we continually chase dreams beyond our capacity, risk resources on simple hopes, our self-confidence is swollen and misdirected. Maybe a little self-doubt would help correct these chaotic impulses. Self-worth, however, isn’t based on performance.
"Studies now show that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health."
Our worth is immeasurable. Personal Judgments of self-worth is completely subjective; usually based on feelings. Achievements, acceptance, and even love all fall short of changing the deeply ingrained feelings testifying we are fundamentally flawed.
Perhaps well-established insecurities can’t be discarded—remaining a part of our psychological make-up. If this is the case, we must identify the feelings for what they are: a remnant of our experiential past. We may be destined to continually hear the unhelpful side commentary, residing in our mind. In order to succeed, we must learn to act despite the bothersome internal commentary echoing insufficiency. Proper action can bolster self-confidence.
If we continually chase dreams beyond our capacity, risk resources on simple hopes, our self-confidence is swollen and misdirected. Maybe a little self-doubt would help correct these chaotic impulses.
Questioning harsh Judgements of Self Worth
By questioning the legitimacy of the denigrating feelings, we stand strong against the normal day to day blunders—mistakes become lessons in humanity instead of proof of inferiority. Our imperfections become challenges to overcome. We learn from the mistakes only when they don’t devastate self-worth. If we seek self-worth through applauded achievements then the normal errors of striving devastate, standing as evidence of inadequacy.
If we feel we aren’t good enough, we project this onto every endeavor. Simply feeling not good enough destroys hope and deters action. But we must act, not chaotically, but pushing towards achievable goals. We can’t wait for the fear to dissipate. It may always haunt us. When personal imperfections clash with personal worth, we struggle. The conflict encourages psychic distortions to relieve suffering. Our defensive thoughts then infiltrate and disrupt clear vision. We either become too timid to explore or excessively bravado open to painful failures.
Challenge your condemning thoughts by recognize feelings of guilt, sorrow and shame and then purposely respond without defensive projections, denials and justifications. When constantly driven to prove worth (worth we already have), we drain the precious psychic resources better directed to constructive responses. We are who we are! If we unfairly judge value against unachievable measurements, convicting and punishing our souls for failing perfection, we magnify the suffering.
We may not stop all the thoughts, but we can identify the nasty demons whispering in our mind and combat them with healthy action.
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