Ten Tools to Boost Your Self-Worth
by Brenda Ehrler
As I prepared my educational sessions each week I noticed a trend I could not deny. No matter
what subject I selected, whether it was honesty, denial, defenses or boundaries the core issue always returned to a lack of
self-worth. If the clients felt a sense of self-worth, there would be no reason to be dishonest, use denial, react defensively
or exercise inappropriate boundaries.
My educational sessions would start with the regular subjects, but would end with tools to boost
self-worth. Of course Alcohol and Drug recovery requires much more than renewed self-worth, but the addition of self-worth
can prove to be a valuable asset in the war against relapse.
Ten tools to boost
1. Discover Disabling Beliefs
may lack self-worth because we are harboring some self-defeating beliefs about ourselves unknowingly. These beliefs could
have grown from an off-the-wall comment said to us when we were young and impressionable. Unrecognized
disabling beliefs can continue to affect how we experience life. They can even prevent us from experiencing peace and joy.
A disabling belief I had to change about by self was that I was not worthy.
Disabling Beliefs Using Affirmations.
An affirmation is a positive
statement said by us about us. Affirmations are a great way to uncover some of those old, disabling beliefs. As we start to
talk positively to ourselves, those buried negative beliefs will pop into our minds. Julia Cameron in her book, THE ARTIST'S
WAY, calls these blurts. She suggests writing them down to help discover where they came from, so that they can be changed
into positive truths. In REAL MAGIC, Dr. Dyer suggests saying affirmations whether we believe them or not. Louise L. Hay,
writes in her book, YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE, that looking into the mirror and saying positive things about ourselves is a powerful
tool. Louise points out that someone looking us directly in the eye gave much of the negative information we received as a
child. We can reverse those messages by looking ourselves in the eye and saying positive things about ourselves.
3. Change Destructive Thinking With Cognitive Therapy
therapy is an exercise used to recognize and stop self-defeating thinking. An event, called a trigger, will prompt thinking;
the thinking can be negative and inaccurate. Negative feelings can follow the negative thinking, which can cause inappropriate
behavior. Generally, negative consequences follow inappropriate behavior. Analyzing and changing the negative thinking following
a trigger can prevent inappropriate behavior and the subsequent unpleasant consequences. The thinking following a trigger
can be very personal negative beliefs that have nothing to do with the current situation. When they are analyzed rationally
they can be changed to more realistic thinking.
4. Think Positively
Dr. Wayne Dyer writes in his book, REAL MAGIC, that our thoughts create our experiences. Maxwell
Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S. writes in his book, PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS that our sub-conscious operates off data input by our thoughts
with no judgement of that data. The data input can be positive or negative; our servomechanism acts equally on both. Based
on Drs. Maltz and Dyer theory, we would be much better off if we could give our servomechanism positive input.
5. See the Positive in Our Past
If we look back over
our life, we might discover an experience that we perceived as bad then realized later its place as a valued part of the larger
picture. In addition, we might discover that what we judged as some of our worst experiences have taught us our grandest lessons.
6. Forgive Ourselves
Once we see that
many of our uncomfortable experiences taught us valuable lessons, we can start to accept ourselves and practice forgiveness.
If we find toxic behavior, we can purge it, thank the Universe for the awareness, forgive ourselves for any perceived indiscretion,
defuse any disabling beliefs and move on. Once we forgive ourselves, forgiving others becomes second nature. We start to accept
that everyone is right where they need to be.
7. Take Responsibility for our Actions,
If we can see the value in our past experiences we can accept
responsibility without judgement for our part in the drama. Taking responsibility for our own part can be very freeing. We
can start to see our future experiences as opportunities to learn and grow, even the uncomfortable ones.
8. Use Emotions as a Measurement to Become More Self-Aware
are in a dispute, our emotions can help us become more self-aware. High emotions indicate we have an issue within us. Go within
and ask, “Why am I so emotional over this issue??Understanding ourselves is an important aspect of self-worth.
9. Transmute the Fear
There are two energies in the
world: love and fear. Every emotion we have is the result of one of these two energies. We can learn to break down our fear-based
emotions by identifying what fear caused the emotion. Fear is more tangible than our emotions, which makes it easier for us
to distinguish whether or not it has merit. To transmute my fears, I think of my fear in its worst conceivable scenario, then
recognize that even the worst possibility wouldn’t be that bad.
With addiction we buy into a dynamic where we literally give ourselves away to be
controlled by a substance. We forget we have the power to change that dynamic and reclaim ourselves. Many times we may feel
we deserve the pain being inflicted onto us. We begin to feel we are not worthy of a peaceful life. The truth is our spirit
is waiting in non-judgement for our return and is available 24-7. Go within and be welcomed home.
For information on Brenda's paperback and audiocassette tape,
LEARNING TO BE YOU;
IT'S AN INSIDE JOB, see http://www.justbepublishing.com
if you prefer the e-book format.
I Need You…I Need You Not: Is Needing Part of the Love Equation?
by Gabriella Kortsch, Ph.D.
Why is it that so often when
we feel we are in love, we also feel we are in bondage if anything happens to shake the feeling of “security”
in the love? Why does love so often make us dependent on the other person? Shouldn’t love be a marvelous and freeing
feeling rather than these other sensations of need and fear and dependence?
Songs Say it
Songs so often say it all: “Can’t Live, if Livin’ is
Without You”, “I Need Your Lovin’”, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”, “I
Fall to Pieces”, It’s You I Need to Take the Blues Away, It Must be Love, “Without You I am Nothing”,
“I’m Drowning Without Your Love”, If you Leave, I Won’t be Able to Breathe”, etc.
The message each of those songs gives is that when the person we love is no longer with us, we
can’t go on. We need that person to be able to stay alive…at least figuratively speaking. Without the person we
love, we are nothing, we can not bear to live.
And while we all know that this is
not exactly true, most of us have certainly been in the position of feeling something akin to those words.
So what does it mean? Does it really mean that loving someone implies that we need the other person so much
that we simply feel we can not go on without them? Or could all that be a fallacy?
Let’s examine what happens in a typical love scenario…
Boy meets girl (man meets woman), chemistry, infatuation, bliss, love, we’ve all been there
and know how that part of it goes. But what is really happening? Raging hormones answer only a small part of the question,
even though they can create a vast impact. An article in the weekend supplement of Spain’s daily El Mundo (8/7/06) refers
to University of Pisa’s Donatella Marazziti’s work on romantic love activating parts of the brain associated with
addiction. She has found that falling in love is a bit like going crazy from the point of view of brain chemicals and hormones
(see also New Scientist).
Jung and the Intelligent Psyche
Carl Gustav Jung said that our psyche is so infinitely intelligent that it attracts us to certain individuals
(as certain individuals’ psyche causes them to be attracted to us) in order that we experience precisely that which
we need to grow. (See my April 2006 Newsletter: Committed Relationships: Use Them to Grow Towards Self-Understanding and Real
So how do we typically grow? By going through an experience of some sort that
may not be easy. We grow at school by learning, studying, and taking exams. We grow in life by becoming more aware, and we
generally tend to become more aware when some life experience obliges us to do so.
extrapolating, we might say that in relationships we grow most quickly through experiences that are not necessarily easy.
And going back to Jung, he clearly proposes that throughout the course of our lives it is our psyche that in its infinite
intelligence leads us to be attracted to precisely those individuals who most have the potential to be instruments in our
individual growth. In order for that to work, evidently we first have to be fully in relationship with those people. So we
fall in love, we begin to feel that our happiness depends in some measure on the other person, and so begins our need of that
External vs Internal Needs
need, in others words, when we depend on something external to ourselves for our well-being, frequently carries within it
the seeds of failure. In the case of a relationship, it may often be the cause of power plays between the two people, the
less needy one being the one to dominate the relationship, and the needier one to resentfully accept this dominance due to
his or her need for the other partner.
Obsessiveness, Possessiveness, or the Need to Control
Power plays are not the only manifestation of relationships mired in mutual need. Another frequent
expression is obsessiveness or possessiveness, or a need to control. And you can imagine – if you haven’t been
there – the kind of resentment and negative feelings that this can generate on the part of both people. Akin to any
substance addiction, obsessiveness or possessiveness or the need to control can take people to hellish places in their hearts
and minds that few of us would wish to visit. I have created an entire workshop on this topic, because although this type
of addiction is often masked by a veneer of sophistication, it occurs more frequently than most people suspect, and makes
the existence of those that suffer from it a living nightmare.
Does Needing Mean You Really
So why do we become needy in relationships? Of the roughly 40% men and
60% women that come to my private practice, many would initially answer that ‘needing’ your love partner is how
it should be. But why should love imply a feeling that almost always develops into something negative, and at best, makes
those who feel it, as said at the beginning of this article, that they could not live without the beloved, thus ‘proving’
in their minds, that this is really love? Is that really what love is all about?
it make more sense to assume that love means freedom rather than independence? (See my article Are You in Love, or Do You
Love?). So what does needing our partner tell us?
Falling In Love With Yourself…
Let’s start with the falling in love part. What are we actually falling in love with? Stated
simply, we fall in love with those bits and pieces of ourselves that we have not yet recognized,
but that we find (via projection) in the partner. Is she tender and understanding? Is he funny and the center of the party?
Is she strong and enterprising? Is he confident, with a great sense of integrity? All of those qualities may well be part
of your partner’s character, but the fact that you fell in love with those specific traits, tells you that they are
actually part of your own character as well.
Since you do not yet manifest those
qualities, because you have not yet recognized them in yourself, you need your partner to
be able to ‘be in touch with’ that part of you. That is what ‘hooks’ you on your partner. Your partner’s
presence in your life gives you contact to those parts of you that you have not yet developed, making you feel that your partner
is absolutely indispensable to your well-being.
When Your Partner Leaves
So then, when something happens to the relationship, or your partner leaves, or threatens to leave,
is when the strong feelings of need arise. This is the time when you should realize that these strong feelings of need are
a vast red flag letting you know something is going on inside of you that only you can do something about. If you ignore it,
or translate it into “I was deeply wounded by my partner”, or “my partner did not return my feelings when
I most needed him/her, so I guess that means I always choose the wrong people”, or “next time I will choose better,
so that this kind of thing never happens to me again”, then instead of resolving your inner dilemma, you will merely
perpetuate it by maintaining the status quo inside of you, falling in love with yet another person that puts you in touch
with bits of you that you have not yet recognized in yourself, and thus setting yourself up to be ‘needy’.
Can it be Solved?
So what is the solution? Simple to
state, less simple to execute (mainly because it requires some of that inner discipline that most of us don’t want to
exercise): work on those bits of yourself that you catch a glimpse of in the beloved. Examine yourself to see where they might
reside in you. Work at developing them; growing them. If you do this, I guarantee you that the next time you fall in love,
it will be with a smaller degree of external need, and hence, a greater degree of internal freedom. Or, if you remain with
the same person, your love will grow into something infinitely more loving.
look for an article in the near future about need in love relationships that is the consequence of an early dysfunctional
relationship with one of the parents. This may cause the individual to grow up believing that love means hurting in some way.
Then, when the individual finds someone who ‘plays’ that role for him/her, that person becomes necessary to the
first person’s emotional survival – or so it is believed. The need that arises from this has more to do with a
lack of self-esteem or poor boundaries, than with getting in touch with unrecognized bits
of the self, and thus the work that needs to be done is on one’s self esteem in connection with the construction of
Dr. Kortsch is a psychotherapist, clinical hypnotherapist, relationship coach, author,
and professional speaker. She broadcasts a live weekly radio show on the Internet and her website. She works with clients
to move them towards greater personal, professional, and relationship success with her integral and human potential raising
approach to life. Sign up for her free cutting edge and inspiring ezine at http://www.advancedpersonaltherapy.com
Is it a disorder, or just shyness?
by Douglas Eby
a child, I was very shy. Painfully, excruciatingly shy. I hid a lot in my room. I was so terrified to read out loud in school
that I had to have my mother ask my reading teacher not to call on me in class." - Kim Basinger
Many of us were shy
as children, and continue to be. In more extreme versions, it may be labeled social phobia or social anxiety disorder, but
it is more commonly a personality trait, related to introversion and high sensitivity. A number of psychologists and others
argue that shyness can be viewed as an ordinary variation in personality, and should not be pathologized or treated as a medical
condition to be overcome.
Many actors in addition to Basinger describe themselves as shy. Chris Cooper approached getting
"unblocked" by taking dance classes, and through acting - "Theater, as therapy," he said.
Actor Sigourney Weaver has
commented, "Sometimes because I am very shy, when I meet a director and they are shy too, we just sort of sit there. I remember
when I met Ang Lee and we were left alone... I was so shy and he was so shy neither of us said anything to each other for
about 20 minutes."
Nicole Kidman has said she is "very shy - really shy - I even had a stutter as a kid, which I slowly
got over, but I still regress into that shyness. So I don't like walking into a crowded restaurant by myself; I don't like
going to a party by myself."
For some people, shyness may be part of a deeper anxiety disorder. Kim Basinger has talked
about phobia being something she has lived with her entire life: "the fear of being in public places - which led to anxiety
or panic attacks." She says she has been a lifelong victim of agoraphobia.
In her BBC News article, Is being shy an
illness?, Anna Buckley wrote, "Most of us are shy to some degree, but acute shyness is one of the most under-recognised mental
health problems of the modern age, say some."
Social phobia, she explains, "was first recognised as a mental health
condition in 1980 and some professionals believe it's one of the most under-recognised and under-treated mental health problems
of the modern age.
"Others are uneasy about such statements, saying shyness is behaviour that falls within the normal
part of human experience."
Professor Christopher Lane is featured in a Northwestern University news story which notes
that his book "Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness" explores the questions "What's wrong with being shy, and just
when and how did bashfulness and other ordinary human behaviors in children and adults become psychiatric disorders treatable
with powerful, potentially dangerous drugs?"
The article notes his book "chronicles the 'highly unscientific and often
arbitrary way' in which widespread revisions were made to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),
a publication known as the bible of psychiatry that is consulted daily by insurance companies, courts, prisons and schools
as well as by physicians and mental health workers.
"By labeling shyness and other human traits as mental conditions
with a biological cause, the doors were opened wide to a pharmaceutical industry ready to provide a pill for every alleged
chemical imbalance or biological problem, the author says."
Professor Lane, in his New York Times Op-Ed article "Shy
on Drugs," explains further, "Few children relish the start of a new school year. Most yearn for summer to continue and greet
the onset of classes with groans or even dread.
"But among those who take the longest to adapt and thrive, psychiatrists
say, are children trapped in a pathological condition. They are so acutely shy that they are said to suffer 'social anxiety
disorder' — an affliction of children and adolescents that, the clinicians argue, is spreading.
"It may seem
baffling, even bizarre, that ordinary shyness could assume the dimension of a mental disease. But if a youngster is reserved,
the odds are high that a psychiatrist will diagnose social anxiety disorder and recommend treatment."
asks, "How much credence should we give the diagnosis? Shyness is so common among American children that 42 percent exhibit
it. And, according to one major study, the trait increases with age. By the time they reach college, up to 51 percent of men
and 43 percent of women describe themselves as shy or introverted. Among graduate students, half of men and 48 percent of
"Psychiatrists say that at least one in eight of these people needs medical attention. But do they? Many
parents recognize that shyness varies greatly by situation, and research suggests it can be a benign condition.
notes that a study sponsored by Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council "reported that levels of the stress hormone
cortisol are consistently lower in shy children than in their more extroverted peers."
The study author suggests that
shyness in children "might not be such a bad thing."
Another aspect is misunderstanding by professionals of personal
qualities, including shyness, that may be related to giftedness.
Psychologist James T. Webb, Ph.D. writes that "Some
of our most brightest and most creative minds are not only going unrecognized, but they
are being given diagnoses that indicate pathology."
Shyness, social anxiety, social phobia, introversion - one of the
problems in using these labels about ourselves is they are often too unspecific and relative: shy compared with whom? How
anxious, for how long, in what situations?
And just because a sophisticated drug company commercial says a "condition"
needs to be treated with prescription medication -- it ain't necessarily so.
Many of us avoid crowds or social contacts
that are too anxiety producing for us, and it works. If this kind of anxiety and protective behavior gets to be overly self-limiting,
holding us back from expressing our talents and living our lives as fully as we want, there are ways to deal with it, including
psychotherapy, strategic changes in activity, self-help programs, and supplements.
But the main thing may be accepting
shyness in ourselves and others as just another quality of personality.
Douglas Eby writes about psychological and social aspects of creative expression and
personal growth. His site has a wide range of articles, interviews, quotes and other resources to inform and inspire: