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Several times each day we are compelled to make valuations of our self-worth. These judgements have profound impacts upon all aspects of our life. During times when life is problematic, many people make highly negative self-assessments. Loss of our job, guilt, illness or relationship problems are all examples of events which can trigger an erosion of our sense of self-worth. Many people already place an unrealistically low value on their self-worth. They consider themselves undeserving of the good things in life. There are many reasons why people feel unworthy or place a rock-bottom, bargain-basement value on their personal worth. For example, certain individuals seem to be more sensitive to negative or critical messages from    other people. Different people, faced with the same negativity, simply dismiss the comments or may brush them off.

                        In the modern world, we are persistently bombarded with media and advertising                         images of wealthy, attractive and successful people. We are led to believe that                           if we must live up to these highly idealised images. If we do not match these                             lofty ideal images, then we are failures and unworthy. A life-changing event                               such as those listed above is enough to tip most people over the edge into a                             crisis of diminished self-worth. Most people are familiar with the term                                         self-esteem. In a general sense, self-esteem is a measure of our sense of                                 self-worth.

Low self-esteem has a number of other secondary efffects. People with low self-esteem often feel unhappy. How can you feel happy if you do not deserve to be happy? Other questions may be asked. If you feel guilty how can you possibly deserve a successful, rewarding life? Low self-esteem frequently is associated with a history of problems with relationships or underachievement. In extreme cases there may perhaps be a history of substance abuse or even criminal behaviour. Some people with poor self-esteem choose to drown sorrows with alcohol or drugs. It is thought that many young people gravitate towards neighbourhood criminal gangs because such organised groups give them an opportunity to 'prove themselves' and thus improve their sense of self-worth. If only they had sufficient self-esteem in the first place!

People who have a higher level of  self-esteem  seem  to  be  better  able  to  cope  with  life's unfortunate twists and turns. When bad things happen, they seem more likely to readjust and get back on their feet  again. What does  this  all  mean? Are  there useful
lessons which we  can learn and use in  our  everyday  lives?  Self-esteem
is extremely important. On occasions when unfortunate  events  occur  we 
should  be  aware  of  the potential  impact upon  our self-esteem. Decisive
action  should  be  taken  to  preserve  and  enhance  self-esteem in these
difficult circumstances.If you do lose your job, develop a serious  illness or
experience some other misfortune then  you  will cope much better  if  you 
make a conscious effort to maintain  self-esteem. Maybe some aspects of
your  life  which make you unhappy are a consequence of feeling unworthy.
If  you  are  able  to  feel  more  worthy, you  might  be  well on the way to solving some of these problems! You will feel better, achieve more and improve  your personal relationships if you value the person inside.

How might you learn more about enhancing self-esteem? How can you start to feel more important and worthy? There are many excellent books available in libraries and reputable bookstores on self-esteem. You will also find useful links on this website which will get you started on your quest. Most importantly, you need to think differently about yourself. You may also need to respond differently when confronted with situations which challenge your self-esteem. There are special techniques (eg cognitive therapy) which often prove useful in enhancing self-worth. A trained psychologist or health professional experienced in these techniques might be able to assist you.

Good luck! You are important and you deserve a happy and rewarding life.

By Andrew Rylatt (Medical Doctor)
27th January 2004  

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