Updated: Oct 28, 2020
If you feel burdens upon your soul, the time has come to brush the decay aside and explore why you are worthy of so much more.
Some of us have a tendency to feel unworthy. We may have thoughts like: “I’ll never be good enough,” or “I don’t matter.” Maybe you’ve been thinking, “What I say or do won’t make a difference, so why try?”
We may be determined to succeed in relationships, strive in school, and progress in careers; but if our self-worth isn’t worth a dime, we may find ourselves unable to cope with stressors of life. Sometimes this comes from self-criticism, self-blame, and other maladaptive habits of thought. This can be a destructive path to depression.
“People want to believe that they are worthy and valuable human beings, and this desire drives their behavior” (Crocker & Knight, 2016). “We suggest that the importance of self-esteem lies less in whether it is high or low, and more in what people believe they need to be or do to have value and worth as a person—what we call contingencies of self-worth.”
Parental attachments are seen as an influence on how children begin patterns of worthiness, and lasting imprints upon adults. “Sensitive and consistently available caretaking may contribute to an internal working model of self as worthy of love and a model of others as trustworthy and predictable (Kenny & Sirin, 2006). “Conversely, insensitive and unreliable caretaking may result in a view of self as unworthy and a few of others as untrustworthy.”
Adults who did not experience secure attachments in childhood are not necessarily destined to have low self-worth, but it is more likely. Some individuals build secure attachments with others, and yet there are some who remain detached as a protective mechanism.
Others may feel more self-worth and self-esteem through relationships that are found later in life, but may want reassurance to feel a sense of security, or comfort. “It appears that how emerging adults feel about themselves, although related to their perception of attachment, is more important in determining whether they will experience depressive symptoms than their current perceptions of the parental attachment relationship” (Kenny & Sirin, 2006).
“Self-worth theory can be summarized in a nutshell: Individuals struggle to give their lives meaning by seeking the approval of others which involves being competent and able, and avoiding the implications of failure—that one is incompetent, hence unworthy,” (Covington, 1984). With work, self worth can improve.
Helpful ways to enhance self-worthiness, include:
Realizing imperfection is part of the human condition
Challenging your inner critic
“Being mindful opens the doors not only to being aware of the moment in a fuller way, but by bringing the individual closer to a deep sense of their own inner world, it offers the opportunity to enhance compassion and empathy” (Siegel, 2007). “Life becomes more enriched as we are aware of the extraordinary experience of being, of being alive, of living in this moment.”
Siegel offers the acronym “COAL” to remind us to apply kindness to ourselves, through curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love.
By giving ourselves the same compassion, dignity, and acceptance that we give to others, we begin to see see our own self-worth grow. Only in that space can we lift the burdens to our soul.
Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth visits. Teresa can be reached through emailing her at email@example.com,calling (513) 234-9184, or visitingwww.jacobsoncounseling.org
Covington, M. V. (1984). The self-worth theory of achievement motivation: Findings and
implications. The Elementary School Journal, 85(1), 5-20. Retrieved from
Crocker, J., and Knight, K.M. (2016). Contingencies of self-worth. Current Directions in
Psychological Science, 14(4)200-203.
Kenny, M. E., and Sirin, S. R. (2006). Parental attachment, self-worth, and depressive symptoms
among emerging adults. Journal of Counseling & Development, 84, 61-71.
Siegel, D. J. (2007). Reflections on the mindful brain. Retrieved from
Shultziner, D., and Rabinovici, I. (2012). Human dignity, self-worth, and humiliation: A
comparative legal-psychological approach. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 18(1)