Podcast Transcriptions

Pursue What Matters

Episode 157: Strengthen Self-Worth

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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What’s the difference between self esteem and self worth? So if you’ve joined me on recent podcast, I’ve been unpacking self esteem. And if you’ve been following along, you know that self worth is one of the building blocks of self esteem. So today, we’re going to help you strengthen your self worth.

Dr. Melissa Smith 0:17
Hi I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So we have been talking about self esteem, and the building blocks of self esteem. So if you joined me a couple of weeks ago, you know that I identify two things for you to focus on, if you want secure self esteem. The first one is self worth. And the second one is mastery. So today, we’re going to do a deep dive into how you can strengthen your self worth. This really, really matters.

Dr. Melissa Smith 1:17
Of course, every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue it matters by strengthening your confidence to lead, whether that’s with clarity, curiosity, or leading and building a community. And today, we’re really focusing on curiosity. So I’m really helping you to develop some self awareness and self leadership, so that you can be more effective with others. And also, so you can have greater well being and so big focus on self worth is definitely worth our time. So we’re going to talk about how you can strengthen self worth. So the first thing we want to pay attention to, is, you know, we want to understand what self worth is, okay?

Dr. Melissa Smith 1:58
So it’s a building block of self esteem. self worth is the evaluation of your overall sense of self. So are you a fundamentally good person with social value in this world, so when we can feel worthy of who you are, as a person, this lays a healthy foundation for who you want to become. So Carl Rogers has kind of talked about this concept before, when we can accept ourselves just as we are. What you know, the ironic thing is that, that creates a secure foundation for us to change, for us to grow, for us to grow and potential to grow in accomplishment, and in skills and an excellence. So it’s the self compassion, the self acceptance, that really helps us to become to become who were meant to become. And that is what self worth is all about.

Dr. Melissa Smith 2:50
So it’s important to pay attention to this idea that self worth is always closely tied to our relationships. So we can’t really separate out who we are as an individual, from our relationships with other people. And so feelings of self worth are closely tied to our social value, or our beliefs about whether what others think of us Okay, and so let’s break down this social value a little bit more, there are two components of social value. So the first is relational social value. So this is the degree to which we regard our relationship with others as personally valuable and important, right? So do you have meaningful relationships, having meaningful close connections, is so incredibly important for every aspect of our wellbeing for our physical health, our mental health, our success in life, and then we have instrumental social value. And this is the degree to which others perceive us as possessing resources and or personal characteristics that are important for the benefit of the collective good.

Dr. Melissa Smith 3:57
So do you bring value to others? Are you helpful? Are you skilled, so this is where I think thinking about these two types of social value is really helpful in the world of work. Because you know, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone at work, in order to bring high social value to work, right. So of course, we want to be respectful, we want to be open to connection, but you don’t have to be best friends with other people at work. And when you have high instrumental social value, you can become very highly valued at work because people respect you people recognize that you’re skilled and that they can come to you for help on problems.

Dr. Melissa Smith 4:39
They can come to you for perspective. And so do others see you as having resources, and personal characteristics that are important for the benefit of the collective good, like can you help others be successful? And so both of those components, relational social value and instrumental social value, really Help us to feel worthy to help us to feel good about ourselves, in relation to other people and in life in general. So let’s think about what high self worth is. So right, what characterizes these folks. So these folks tend to like themselves, right? So think about that you start with liking yourself, and view themselves as having high relational value. So in a nutshell, we like ourselves. And we really care about our relationships, right? So our relationships are meaningful to us. So this is why belonging is so important to our sense of self worth, we can never just part, partition off self worth from our relationships with others, because if we don’t have a sense of, of deep acceptance, and a sense of belonging, it’s hard to know that we are worthy, it’s, it’s hard for us to actually have a stable sense of self worth.

Dr. Melissa Smith 5:59
So when we are rejected, our self worth destabilizes and just think about that, in your own life, think about that, for people that you know, right. Like, if you’ve, you know, maybe you’re in a long term relationship, and that has ended. So whether that’s divorce or a breakup, most people have their self worth destabilize to some degree, and not just signals the loss of that relationship, like even if you’re the one that walked away, because our self worth is so tied up into our relationships.

Dr. Melissa Smith 6:31
Now, of course, we don’t want that to be a crushing blow. But what’s true is when we experience rejection, our self worth D stabilizes to a certain extent. So this is a reason why others opinions of us will always matter. That’s not just a developmental issue, right? It’s not something that just teenagers worry about. But, you know, if we didn’t care what others thought of us, right, we we really be on the path to narcissism, or to becoming a sociopath. And so it’s good that we care about what others think of us, it helps us to understand what we think of ourselves. And so from Tafarodi and Swan, there are some researchers in the area of self worth, what they say is, at no point in development, do we become numb to the moral judgment of those whom we take an interest in. So I think that’s really great. So it’s not like, once you become more mature, you won’t care what other people think we always care. But we don’t want to overvalue that or inflate the role of others judgments on us, right. So there’s a healthy balance there to be, to be sure.

Dr. Melissa Smith 7:45
So when we think about self worth, I think a helpful way to think about that is we use others as a mirror to reflect our own feelings of worth, at least to some extent. Now, when we’re younger, right, our sense of self worth is less internalized. And so we really use the reflection of others, to establish our own self worth. But as we grow older, we grow in competence, we strengthen our relationships, we internalize that self worth a little bit more, or that’s the goal so that we’re less vulnerable to others judgments, but we will always care about those. So I think that’s one of the interesting things that as we strengthen our foundation of self worth, it becomes more internalized. So we know we matter. And we are actually less vulnerable to how others see ourselves.

Dr. Melissa Smith 8:40
So we can still experience rejection. But we come to that rejection, with a knowing right with a with an understanding that we matter and that we’re valuable. And you know that rejection still is very painful. And we need to kind of rebuild some of that foundation. But we’ll always care about others. And we’ll do what we can to cultivate connection, and high social value, right? Like, we’ll try to be helpful, we’ll try to connect with people. But with time, we can become less vulnerable to the shifts that might happen in the social realm. So you become the firm foundation for yourself, okay. And so that’s really what we want to pay attention to when it comes to self worth, right, like you’re less, you’re less thrown by the waves of other people. And so I just want to take a moment and kind of look at this big picture. Because self self worth is a building block of self esteem, right? And we don’t want to overly focus on self esteem. And what I have found in my work with folks and this is backed up by the research is that learning to embrace self compassion is much more helpful than focusing on self esteem. And so when I think about self worth, right, like, how do you feel about yourself, I really see that tied up with self compassion. So let’s just look at where we’re coming from, when we focus on self esteem, versus self compassion. So when we’re too focused on self esteem, we tend to be quite judgmental of ourselves and others. When we can approach ourselves with some compassion, there tends to be a lack of judgment, right? There’s, there’s acceptance. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t judge our skills or our competence, but we don’t make global judgments of ourselves or others. Self-esteem is absolutely mind made, it is focused on thinking ourselves out of issues, it’s about being better than other people, where self compassion is HeartMate, there’s a tenderness there, there’s a care for yourself and for others, and it that really speaks to that need for connection, which helps us with self worth. So when it comes to self esteem, you know, we can be really sensitive to critical feedback. And critical feedback can undermine our self image if we’re not careful, right? That’s one of the ways we have insecure self esteem. But self compassion, in contrast, allows us to acknowledge strengths and weaknesses, we don’t have to be devastated by critical feedback, we can take it in, and we can actually use it productively. So one of the ways insecure self esteem shows up is we have thoughts of good and bad, who’s better, who’s worse, who’s good, who’s bad, who’s a failure, who’s a success.

Dr. Melissa Smith 11:42
But self compassion really helps us to be mindful and present. So we’re really avoiding these global, these global statements of right and wrong, good and bad. So we stay out of dichotomous thinking. Another another experience that we see with insecure self esteem that we really want to pay attention to, is that if we struggle, right, so mastery is a component of self esteem. But if we struggle, if we fail, this will undermine our self image, right? Like, we’ll feel worse about ourselves. So our self worth takes a hit. But when it comes to secure self esteem, and self compassion, we can have a steady self image, despite our challenges, despite failures. And this is really that internalized sense of self worth, right? Like we’re not undone by challenges, that we, we can still know that we’re worthy, and that we matter. Even when we recognize there are things we need to work on, and improve. When it comes to insecure self esteem. It’s all about comparison. So how do I stack up against others, whereas when it comes to self compassion, it’s all about connection, right? So we’re not trying to be better than someone else, we’re actually trying to learn and connect and grow. And again, this focus on connection with self compassion really points us to self worth, that our image of ourselves is tied to the strength of our relationships. So having strong meaningful connections, helps us to feel better about ourselves. And then the last point related to insecure self esteem is that you know, our successes boost our self image, right.

Dr. Melissa Smith 13:31
So this is really the rocky shore of self esteem is that it’s always highly dependent on how you’re achieving or whether or not you are achieving. And so if you’re failing, your self image can just be decimated. Whereas if you’re succeeding, you can feel like you’re on top of the world. And so we really want to kind of stay away from those big highs and lows. Instead, we really want to focus on that self compassion, where we can have a steady self image, despite our successes, right? So regardless of failures, regardless of successes, we know that we matter, and that’s really the heart of having a secure a secure self worth, right. And so that’s what we really want to pay attention to, when it comes to self worth. So I want you to, you know, the take homes for today, right? If we thinking if we’re thinking about focusing on self worth, is recognizing that the strength of your relationships will impact your self worth. So if you’re in relationships with people who make you feel worse about yourself, you need to really, really take that into serious consideration. Because it’s going to be hard for you to feel good about yourself. If you continue in relationships that are not good for you. Okay? The other side of the coin for that is that it’s important for us to contribute and strengthen others that this will help us feel better about ourselves. So not only do we receive the gifts of others, but we give our gifts and that these are so important for helping us to navigate life with a stable sense of self. And then, you know, the other take home point that I would just remind you of, is a recognition that, you know, others opinions of us will always matter. We just don’t want to overvalue that or undervalue that, recognizing that those relationships really are the building blocks.

Dr. Melissa Smith 15:39
And so, head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/157-strenghtenselfworth. So one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/157-strenghtenselfworth. So please join me on Instagram. I’m social, @dr.melissasmith And in the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai