Mental Help Net
Psychological Self-Tools - Online Self-Help Book
Basic Information
Chapter 1 - Self-help: What is it?Chapter 2 - Understanding the Nature of your ProblemChapter 3 - Overview of Bio-Psycho-Social TheoriesChapter 4 - Meeting Basic NeedsChapter 5 - Changing Behavior and ThoughtChapter 6 - Changing Your MoodChapter 7 - Changing Your KnowledgeChapter 8 - Changing Your RelationshipsChapter 9 - Changing Your Identity and MotivationChapter 10 - Your Unique Self-Help PlanChapter 11 - Dependency
Questions and AnswersBlog EntriesLinks
Related Topics

Pursue a New You Through True Self Value

Ewa Schwarz Updated: Oct 23rd 2008

road sign announcing self-worthOne of the most important questions in personal growth is how does a person develop self-value? So many people are left with scars from their childhood from how little value they have. More scars develop as people get older and experience more pain. Some people end up with the beliefs that they only have value if they are a good parent, provider, employee, etc. The common thread is that a person’s value either doesn't exist or exists outside of them.

When your value is external, what happens when your children grow up or if you lose a child, if you don’t need to provide for somebody anymore, you change or lose your job, get fired, or retire, etc. What happens when life changes and you are not prepared for it because you have always determined your value based on some external source?

Others determine their self value based on how they think other people perceive them. Then the external value is not only at the mercy of changes in life, but also at the mercy of what you think other people think of you as well. Given that you feel little value to begin with, it is inevitable that you will misinterpret what you think others think of you, contributing to the low value.

Then there are those who cannot find any sense of value at all, or it may come in bits and pieces, but the overall experience can lead to one of emptiness, unbearable sadness, depression, and hopelessness that come with feeling that you have little or no value.

The lack of value is not just an empty space unfortunately. That would be easy to deal with in comparison to the feeling of negative self worth. The self hatred, anger, and shame can become palpable. But where did those feelings come from and how did they develop? We are not born with it; we are born full of ourselves, full of life, curiosity, and a zest to learn. We inherently felt our own value, bursting with life as we were. So what happened?

Development of Self-Value

As we grew from babies to toddlers to small children, all the messages started to pile into our very pliable sponge-like brains. We were told to stop being who we naturally were. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Bad girl; bad boy. Many more limitations were put on us than were encouragement and explanations. Our curiosity got squelched and many were punished, some severely.

Eventually we stopped wanting to learn and grow as our brains became cluttered with all those messages, pain becoming a frequent consequence for normal expression. Then as we grew older, other negative experiences added to these bad feelings about ourselves. We are so unaware of the sheer volume of negative messages in our subconscious. Only a small percentage makes it into our consciousness. And you wonder why you can feel so emotionally overwhelmed?

We need to go a little further back to understand our parent’s behaviors. Regardless of how good, bad or neutral your upbringing was, the one thing that can be said for all parents is that they did the best they could, given the tools that had, and the circumstances that they were in. That was the best that they were able to do back then, with how little they understood themselves and their own behaviors.

We are of a generation where personal growth has become much more important. Years ago many of these concepts that are regularly available now were unknown to most. Parents raised their children in the same way that they were raised, hopefully with at least some improvement in parenting techniques, but unfortunately not in all situations. Suffice it to say that for better or worse, your parents raised you in the best way that they knew how.

Many people aren’t even aware of how they were affected as a child. They think back and feel that they had a good childhood and good parents. Yet even in that seemingly good situation, many were left with internal messages that left them with no sense of self-esteem or self-value.

The Process of Change

The bottom line is that it really does not matter what the exact nature is of how we came to be the way we are. The primary focus needs to be finding what those conscious or unconscious messages are that are in our psyches right now. How do each of you, individually see yourselves? What are those messages and then how do you change them? What do you replace them with and how do you do it?

Before we jump further into this discussion, a word of warning. Nothing will change if you are not willing to change some deep ingrained beliefs and judgments. The old saying of do you want to be right or do you want to be happy applies 100% here. It may take you some time to adjust to new ideas and beliefs about yourself, but if you reject them outright, you will not change.

Also, this is not an intellectual process. You use your intellect to help in the process, but this is a deeply emotional, psychological, and physiological transition. You only feed information into your brain so that you become aware of the tools. You must do the work, take the risks, face the fears, be creative, and ultimately learn how to stay focused on what you want to achieve and even to have fun. It is very much like regaining some lost aspects of how you were as a child.

Increasing Self Awareness Objectively

Self awareness and self honesty is where everyone needs to begin. Your outward focus of being concerned with how the rest of the world perceives you needs to be turned inwards. How do you really perceive yourself? What are the actual thoughts you think about yourself, especially around others? Are you afraid of saying what you really feel? Do you even know what that really is?

What fears do you have when you interact with other people? Do you want them to see you in a certain way? Use the answers as clues to what is missing in you. Are you looking for acceptance, recognition, love, attention, etc? What form of rejection does your fear look like for you? You can either make a list with this information or you can just observe yourself and see what thoughts, feelings, and physiological reactions you have. All three aspects give you a lot of information.

As you gather this kind of information about yourself, it is essential to remain an objective observer of who you are. It is possible that as you look at yourself more honestly, it will bring up more fear and self-judgment and stop this process in its tracks. Become a split personality and use that other, solely analytical part of you to gather data just like a computer does. Put the information into a file in your mind that is separate from your thoughts, feelings, and interpretations at this point. You don’t yet know the value of what you are gathering and you don’t know what to do with it.

Fear of Conflict as an Example

As you gather up your list of what you observe about yourself, you are really gathering up clues as to what you need to work on. This information also gives you clues as to the direction in which you need to go to start the work. For example, lets look at one of the forms of rejection, the fear of conflict.

This is a good example because we can unravel it into its components. A fear of conflict is many things (most fears are). It stops you from clearly expressing what you feel, need, and want. You feel that the other person has some sort of value that you do not have, therefore allowing their voice to be more important than yours. 

Lets look at clear expression. You have not had the opportunity to learn clear expression in a way where conflict does not have to exist. First of all, you have a right to express yourself. The person receiving that information has the right to do what they want with the information they receive. They also have the right to express themselves and you have the right to do what you want with the information you receive.

Yet what is it that you are trying to express? So many times we really are not clear on what it is that we really want to communicate, there are so many hidden agendas. We speak without thinking, in an automatic way. We even listen in an automatic way that creates assumptions about what is said without really listening. We need to become clearer on how we hear, what we are saying, and why we are saying it.

There are many clever little ways in which we attempt to change (manipulate) people, hide what we really want, or feel that we can only ask for what we want in a convoluted way. We do this out of a combination of how we saw our parents communicate to each other, how we observed others, and partly out of fear.

Yet people pick up on what we all think are subtle behaviors. We all have the ability to sense when something is off through body language, tone of voice, choice of words, etc. This lack of clarity and conscious or subconscious subterfuge contribute to what eventually leads to conflict. We don’t trust one other because the established patterns do not have clear communication and clear focus.

Motivation for Change

This ties into self-value in that we do not believe in ourselves enough to seek out that form of clarity. In fact, most people, even knowing what their options are, will avoid even learning the alternatives, because it is easier to just avoid the unknown, which is more fearful than that which they already know and are comfortable with. They somehow manage to get through life, not feeling good when conflict happens, even if it happens on a regular basis.

It is a catch-22 where there are just enough good times to offset the bad times to not bother doing the work to change. Being right is the payoff. They get to be right about the other person being the problem. Now, how many of you instantly went into thinking that if the other person isn’t the problem, am I saying that they are?

There is no problem, there are only solutions to be found. If you do the comparison blame game, you will not learn and grow. This is not about comparison, blame, good, bad, indifferent, this is about do you or don’t you want to change your circumstances? Then put your focus on yourself in order to create better experiences.

Practicing Self Awareness

Practice becoming more honest with yourself about what you really want to say, why you say it the way you do, notice the fears, how you choose your words to try and get certain results, as well as the real intention behind your words. We all have moments of communication that could use honest assessment and improvement.

Make note of each and every conversation you have, even the ones with yourself. Are you really being as honest as you can be? Can you identify any fears that are underneath how you say things and what you choose to say? Can you feel yourself change to please others or to avoid conflict? What exactly are you afraid of? Always ask yourself, always dig a little bit deeper for more information about yourself.

Remember that this is to be done without judgment. If you start to feel bad about what you are observing then stop, and create that split personality in your mind, making believe if you have to, that it is just a computer gathering information. This is one of the ways in which you can distract your self judgment by having fun.

Picture one of those giant ancient main frames, complete with tapes, hear the whirring sounds of the machinery, feel the heat emanating from the computers, smell the electricity, even touch the metallic and other surfaces in your mind. You’d be surprised how using your senses is a powerful way of getting out of fear, judgment, or reaction.

Make up your own scenario to distract yourself, just be sure to make note of what you are observing with the clear focus and intention of wanting to create change and more specifically, knowingly or unknowingly introduce more self value for yourself!

Safely Balancing Yourself

So as you are practicing observing yourself with a greater level of self-honesty than before, you are becoming more aware of what your fears and judgments are. You have also been noticing the judgments that you have on what you observe about yourself.

This is not unlike learning to walk on a high wire. You need to find a balance so that your emotions do not derail you. As soon as you judge yourself, you will lose your balance and fall. As soon as you go into emotional reaction, the same happens. Anything that takes your focus off of staying in a state of observation will knock you off balance. Trying too hard will do this as well.

Your ultimate goal is to walk this wire high up in the sky without falling. Right now consider your wire to be suspended just off the ground or a little higher if you do not fall so easily. In this learning stage, you must remain safe or you will not want to get back on this wire because it hurts too much when you fall. The best progress comes with small, logical, and safe steps.

Understanding Self-Value Better

I want to take the time to discuss the esoteric qualities of self-value. Sometimes by describing what something is not helps you narrow your definition and understanding of what it is. You can then create a more precise focus in developing your self-value. Deep knowledge of a subject gives you power and that is what correctly leads you in your personal growth.

Your level of self-value is in direct proportion to your level of self-awareness. If you think you are self-aware or very self-aware, yet struggle with insecurities, you really have not yet developed true self-value and therefore are not as self-aware as you think you are. We all have insecurities, but we do not have to struggle with them. By becoming fully aware of them, we can learn to deal with them differently and without struggle.

If you think your level of self-value is high or very high, yet feel superior or inferior to others, you really have not fully grasped the meaning of self-value, and are using it to not have to look deeper at yourself. Self-value has no room for comparison with others. When you have true self-value, you recognize others self-value to be equal to your own, yet unique to each person.

Self-value is not judging others to be good or bad, just as you do not judge yourself. Self-value is not closing your mind to possible meanings of who you are other than what you currently believe about yourself. Self-value is the education of ones self with an open mind, hungry for knowledge, and needing change above and beyond anything else.

Self-value is a quiet strength, a knowing, yet a willingness to recognize when one is wrong, but always with the outlook of ‘how can I act differently in the future’? Self-value is questioning everything: what others say, what your own beliefs are, what you hear, read and see. Self-value is not feeling doubt from what you question, but using the knowledge you gather to constantly better yourself. Self-value is hearing the opinions of others and then using what you hear to understand that person better, not to question the validity of who you are.

Self-value is understanding that the world, your existence in it, and even who you eventually will understand yourself to be is full of seeming dichotomies. As you become more inward focused, your vision expands outward to see more of what is happening around you. As you become more self aware, you become far more aware of all events around you. What you may originally judge as selfish turns into true ability to help others. The results of your efforts go into many different directions at the same time, giving you the results you seek as well as much more in positive ways that you can only begin to imagine.

This should help you understand on a deeper level what you are striving for. Like anything else, there are many levels of understanding and rather than reaching for the top and not getting it, start from where you are and go one small step at a time to create a foundation that is so strong it cannot be shaken. Remember that a foundation is built one brick at a time. It will take more than a few, more than a dozen, it may take hundreds of bricks to make your foundation strong enough to truly withstand any challenge.

Shifting your Understanding of Yourself

So lets get on with the work. You have been gathering pieces of information about yourself. Now we are going to lay them all out on the table and look at the different puzzles pieces to see how they fit together and look at how we can create a picture of you, but this time with self-value instead of the fears and judgments.

Every piece of the puzzle that is you has a flip side. Every negative quality has a positive quality and vice versa. When you look at a puzzle piece that is one of judgment, fear, or a limiting belief, the possibility for the reverse is always there. In fact, it is on the opposite side of that piece. You are currently feeling incomplete or without value because you are looking at the side of the puzzle piece that holds the negative possibility.

Absolutely every quality that you have, that you do not like about yourself not only has the reverse side, but it exists within you right now. If you cannot see it, it is because you are primarily focused on the negative side. Simply the act of taking your focus off of what you do not like starts the process of the piece turning over on its own.

Another way to see your puzzle pieces is dark versus bright, or heavy versus light. With judgment and fear you feel dark inside, there is no light and there is little air to breath. With the reverse, the brightness seeps in on its own and new possibilities make you buoyant, like a balloon. When you have judgments and fears, you feel heavy, as if you are carrying a burden. With the reverse, you are at least neutral and then momentum starts lifting you up, like a bubble of air in the water.

When you feel yourself in fear, judgment, or in emotional reaction, stop the reaction as soon as you can. How easy that is to do depends on the strength of the emotion. It is easier to stop a train going 1 mph than it is to stop one that is going 100 mph. Stop the reaction by acknowledging to yourself that you are having one. An emotional reaction is your response to the fear of getting hurt.

Question yourself. If you can question the person or situation you are reacting to, that is even better, but it is not necessary. Ask if what you thought (the thought that triggered the reaction) is what their intention was. Ask yourself what other possible meaning might there be to what just triggered you. Do not allow yourself to be right and justify the hurt. If no new meaning comes to you, give yourself a break and try again later. You are still too emotional to come up with an answer. You are getting an internal “busy” signal.

The Process of Redefinition

Redefine the hurt that you felt. The hurt is from your past. Your reaction now is the defense mechanism you created to stop yourself from being hurt in the same way yet again. If you don’t fully beleive this it doesn’t matter, fake it until you make it. Simply the practice of redefinition is what will make a difference for you.

Redefine the judgment in your head, if it is a self-judgment, question the validity of why that is supposed to be true about you. Use your anger and channel it into screaming, “says who” in your head. All the voices that told you this in your past will answer. They are ghosts; tell yourself that you do not believe in ghosts anymore. Tell them to stop, use your anger as a force to say no to them.

On some days, your mind will be so over active with its dark and heavy messages and being right, it will be as if you are fending off attacks all day long, sometimes every minute of the day. This can be exhausting and quickly leads into those familiar feelings of hopelessness again. Redefine the hopelessness into an alarm that tells you that you have practiced enough. We all get tired; absolutely every single one of us.

Acknowledge your efforts in learning the new language. You have practiced the new alphabet, saying a few new words, stringing together a few simple sentences, maybe even a few more complex sentences, even starting to become somewhat fluent. Everyone will be at a different level. Acknowledge yours. Acknowledge that some days it will be easier to learn than others.

Take a break that distracts your mind, preferably something that feels good to you and stimulates one of your senses. You are waking yourself up. You are slowly taking off that which has been weighing you down and keeping you feeling dark. You are opening yourself up; you are on the path of developing your self-value. Repeat these instructions as often as you can.

Ewa Schwarz Ewa Schwarz has been a counselor, life coach, healer and teacher for 15 years, having studied a wide range of mind-body healing practices. She owns and runs, the leading online counseling website with guaranteed results.

Sign up for her free monthly personal growth Ezine or read one of the many archived articles or free counselings that she provides to help everyone, whether they can afford counseling or not.

The Help You Need. Right Here. Right Now. With your own private counseling session at

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

The other side - Lee - May 15th 2010

Being conscious also means being conscious of what others also project in their interpretation of this in relation to someone who they perceive to be under this topics influence. And yet, we all are.

I'd love to see an article that addresses 'advice' to the person seeking to help their significant other or friend. Rather than merely pointing someone to this for help, show & explain to these 'friends' how they can be part of the solution, rather than adding to the problem

What I mean by this is, as soon as we open our mouth to communicate our own views upon another's personal self-esteem, we risk adding more weight to the problem. I see this happen frequently, and more since the Internet has made so much more information - some conflicting - available.

Comment by Anton Juricki on March 27, 2009 - Lavay Hart - Oct 16th 2009

Thank you for your March 27, 2009 Comment re: Self Value.  You shared that 'the opposite of guilt meant deserving' which helped you immensely in your quest to build Self Esteem.

By you sharing a bit about your personal journey and the above knowledge, I am very much enlightened and helped. Thank you.

Thank You - anton juricki - Mar 27th 2009

I have struggled with low self-esteem(ie. low self-value) for the better part of 30 years.  Only recently, after reading a passage on another website where 'the opposite of guilt meant deserving', did I discover a new direction for self-learning.  I needed to look a little deeper into my life, and examine what it was that made me feel undeserving.  I came to the realization that only a greater sense of self-value could propel me out of the decaying state of helplessness that shrouded me everday.  I wanted to feel I was worth a great deal more than the struggles that had befallen me.  And now, I feel as though a change of focus has attracted me to your written words.

P.S.    It is a good feeling to read from someone who really understands...

Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Powered by CenterSite.Net