In the previous post we touched on how our Esteem Engine is like a car engine: It needs to be balanced to get maximum power out of it. Lets look at what happens to our Esteem Power when our Self Worth is low, but first it helps to compare Self Confidence with Self Worth so that we can see more clearly the difference between them:
Self Confidence is our ability to develop and express skills, abilities and knowledge. It has to do with our relationship with the world around us. It also has to do with how we perform at a particular task or in a particular role. Self Worth is our capacity to feel a sense of worth for ourselves just as we are. It is the capacity to value ourselves independent of our achievements, or our abilities. Self Worth boils down to whether we like ourselves or not.
It is a fairly common imbalance to have more Self Confidence than Self Worth. When this happens we tend to see our value as relating to what we do; rather than valuing ourselves for who we are. This kind of imbalance creates an underlying feeling of “not being good enough” which no amount of external success will ever make up for – at least no for long.
If we try and compensate for low Self Worth by developing more Self Confidence this takes us even more out of balance. Our strengths then turn into caricatures of themselves and the harder we try more-of-the-same the less effective we become. For example, a useful quality like assertiveness then distorts into becoming pushy, or demanding, behavior which will inhibit our success by damaging our relationship with others. Since low Self Worth creates a feeling of “not deserving”, then doing more, or doing better, does not have much affect on what is essentially a “being” issue. If we succeed in our goals, but do not deal with an underlying lack of Self Worth our successes will feel empty as we will still not like ourselves enough to let ourselves enjoy it.
Low Self Worth can cause us to limit what we can achieve or create in life. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, we are unlikely to feel we deserve what we want. If we feel we don’t deserve something, or have doubts about whether we deserve it, we will make sure we don’t get it. It will not seem fair for us to get something unless we feel we deserve it. Yet, low Self Worth almost always guarantees that we will feel unworthy of what we want.
Even if what we want is something which will benefit others low Self Worth can cause us to block our efforts. If we move towards our goal we might start to get noticed. We might risk getting appreciation, praise or even accolades of some kind. That could be too much if our Self Worth is low and we will find ways to delay or even sabotage the project so as to avoid receiving something we feel we don’t deserve. We even get a “bonus” by proving we are unworthy by our “failure” to make the project work.
There is no substitute for genuine Self Worth yet it can be one of the more embarrassing, messy and awkward issues to deal with. Admitting that we are not good at something is for many easier than admitting that we feel unworthy of something. Next post: How to strengthen Self Worth.