What benefits do we get from a strong, stable sense of self worth?
Well, it's like a healthy immune system.
- We're less vulnerable to attacks from rejection and failure.
- We bounce back quicker from set backs.
- We're better at learning from mistakes.
- We're less chronically stressed because we're able to set healthy boundaries to balance our lives.
- We have energy to healthily develop ourselves through each life stage.
On the other hand, what happens to us if our self esteem is low?
And what happens if we don't do anything about it?
- Self blame
- Take things too personally, making negative feedback more stressful, resulting in less self control thus increasing mistakes and failures which leads to more self blame - a vicious cycle.
- Experience more pain from rejections and failures
- Lose sense of who we really are and become something we're not
- We're less persistent after failures and overgeneralize its meaning
- More vulnerable to anxiety and depression
- Higher retention of cortisol in blood
- Less likely to recover from loss and trauma
- We're much less adaptive.
- Isolate ourselves to minimize risks of rejection and pain.
- Increase self protection which decreases openness to emotional nutrients, help, and support
- With chronic higher levels of cortisol come high blood pressure, poor immune systems, suppressed thyroid glands, reduced muscle and bone density, and poor cognitive performance
- Feeling unworthy becomes a part of our identity and this increases resistance to positive affirmation and encouragement.
- Rejection of everything and everyone that does not align with our negative self perceptions (very problematic in personal relationships).
So how do we increase our sense of self worth?
Here are some starters:
For more examples and deeper explanations, pick up a copy of Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch.
- Embrace the fact that we need to strengthen our emotional immune systems (self-esteem) not beat them down.
- Purge emotionally abusive voices in our heads; adopt kinder / more supportive ones.
- Get rid of BS belief that more self-compassion will cause slacking off and decrease performance (resulting in lower self-esteem)
- Exercise: Identify and affirm strengths
- Get 2 pieces of paper
- On first sheet, list 10 of your attributes and achievements most meaningful to you.
- While brainstorming, write any negative / sarcastic thoughts on 2nd sheet.
- Pick most important item from 1st sheet and write brief essay with why it’s of such value and what you hope it will do for you in the future.
- Once essay is completed, crumple 2nd sheet and throw into garbage.
- On subsequent days, pick another item and write about it in like manner.
We aren't shooting for high self esteem which may resemble narcissism. It's more about a healthy sense of self worth that gives us both confidence and humility with an openness to emotional pain but also the ability to manage it effectively.
A strong and stable self esteem energizes us to be courageous, compassionate, and candid. And its primary purpose is to help us connect meaningfully and appropriately to those who matter most to us.
Ready to increase your energy for change and elevate your leadership, strategy, commitment and execution? Book a complimentary 30-60 minute session and let's chat.