Foundations Part 10: Self Worth (Transcript)

This will be the last video for the Foundation series.  My hope is that everyone has a good grasp on the fact that they control themselves. That they think they way they feel. I further hope that I have given them tools through self-evaluation and distraction to start the process of living a more happy and healthy life.  In between everything, I tossed in a lesson on the universal truth that people do what they want to do which, like REBT, will tie into everything we talk about in further discussions.

The last thing I wanted to cover before moving on is the subject that people struggle with the most: self worth. We see a ton written on the subject. We see a ton of memes telling us we all need it and we can find a ton written about how we can go about increasing it, but there is very little out there telling us how to get it in the first place. There is also a ton written out there on  the subject that would be counterproductive to your goal of living a happy and healthy life and being in happy and healthy relationships.  I wanted to give everyone, as my leaving the Foundations series gift, the key to finding your self worth and maintaining it in a manner that is healthy for you.

Unlike what I have talked about previously, what I am going to talk about now is not backed by forty years of research, but instead is more about my personal journey and spending years thinking about this subject and how I could best approach it to actually help others on an issue that is paramount to us all finding happiness.

For myself, I don’t make a distinction between the terms self-esteem and self-worth.  Each are about how we view ourselves in a moment in time. For what I want to teach, it just isn’t important to make any distinction as you will soon understand.

Your self-worth is all about how you view yourself. One of the things I have spoken of in my “thoughts of the day” segments is the problem with labeling yourself.  I have to cover this topic again here because it becomes critical in the discussion about how we see ourselves.

So why are labels so detrimental to how we see ourselves?  Because they limit how we see ourselves.  We are not any one idea. We are not any one personality trait. We are not any one body part. We are not any one thing. We are not any  three or four things. We are instead a collective of thousands of things. We are the whole sum of our bodies and our personality. We are the sum total of our interactions with others. Not one, two, or more interactions, but instead the whole sum total of every interaction.

Why is this concept so important? It allows us to see ourselves as more than one action. It allows us to look in the mirror and see more than just one thing. We are not the “maybe a little too much weight around the middle”.  We are not the “maybe a little too big of ears or nose”. We are not our last failed relationship. We are not our last screw up. We are not our job.

On the other hand, we are not our successes. We are not the exceptional student. We are not just the sculptured abs. We are not our last promotion.

If we see ourselves as any one or two aspects of our lives we set ourselves up for issues. What happens when time erodes your looks? What happens when your success at work hits a speed bump? What happens if your perfect marriage runs into issues? If you have defined yourself and your self worth on only a few things, you are headed to disaster.  Your self-talk is going to take a serious hit if you see yourself as all that and it already took a hit if you never saw yourself as anything to begin with.

So, how should we be looking at ourselves that will provide a buffer against the highs and lows of life?

We have to see ourselves as a complete human – our bodies and our interactions with others. If we see ourselves as hundreds, if not thousands, of data points no one data point can define us. No one person is all roses. No one person is all crap, body or mind.  I might have dreamy eyes, but a droopy ass. I might be the life of the party but need to work on trust issues. I might be thick around the middle, but have the perfect little nose.

I am a combination of things some I will see as positive and some I will see as negative.  I am a sum of things I am okay with and things I might want to work on.  Our worth is that none of us are a sum total of negative, nor are any of us perfect.

We all have something we are bringing to the table, when it comes to life. None of us are devoid of all redeeming qualities and none of us are saints.

Self-worth and self-esteem are not about just finding things about yourself that you see as positive, but also about acknowledging the things you have to work on. We are all a combination of both. That is our value proposition. This is how we get through life – without condemning our shortcomings and at the same time not aggrandizing our accomplishments or physical traits because we understand that we are both. We are our shortcomings as much as we are our achievements. We are not one or the other, but both.

If we see ourselves in this way it buffers us against what life throws at us. It allows us to not get too high on who we are, while at the same time not get too low.  One thing to understand is that it is also very dangerous to get too high on ourselves. When we put ourselves on a pedestal, we have such a long way to fall and no foundation to lift ourselves back up. In many ways, it is just as harmful as not seeing any value in ourselves.

One of the great things about seeing ourselves as a collective of thousands of attributes is that it enables us to see others in the same light. We can understand that others are just as flawed and fallible as we are. That our family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances are also not just one thing, but instead a complex mixture of many things; some you will find likable, and others you will find wanting.

Why is it important to see others in the same way you see yourself? It eliminates sanctimonious behavior.  It eliminates you seeing someone as wholly unworthy, evil, or “bad”.  You can still decide that someone’s behavior towards you or your loved ones is not compatible to you living a happy and healthy life (label it toxic if you want), but at the same time understand that the same person might have value to their other friends, family etc.  They might interact with others in a completely different manner.

If you see that person as a whole human in this way, you can decide that they are not someone you want in your life without hate, anger, or other non productive emotions.  People’s bad decisions are never the whole story of that person regardless of how bad the decisions are just like your bad decisions are not you. They are instead one snapshot of time. One point of data in a much larger portrait.

If we are talking about photography, and those that know me know I am also a photographer, we can say that each decision we make in life, each physical attribute, each interaction with others is just one pixel of a huge photo. We can tell nothing of the photo by looking at just one pixel.

Having said all this, I must stress that this does not mean we should just accept who we are as a whole. I think we should evaluate each point of data and decide if we are okay with that aspect of ourselves or if we think it is something we should work on improving.  There will be three kinds of data about ourselves: those things we are happy with about ourselves; those things we would like to work on; and those things we might not be happy with, or want to work on, that are not changeable (this would be certain physical traits or maybe mental capabilities).

For myself, I want to continually improve on my whole. Those improvements are not for others, because I can only evaluate myself for myself.  They are things which, I think, can and should be worked on – my frustration tolerance comes immediately to mind.  I don’t believe however, that these improvements will make me a “better” human, but instead think these improvements will be productive in my goals to be a happy and healthy human.

This brings me to another important aspect of self worth. It is pointless to compare ourselves with others in any way. Why? Because it is impossible to know any other person’s whole self.  Comparing one of our attributes to someone else’s similar attribute is meaningless if we are seeing ourselves as a collective. We are not that one thing and they are not that one thing, which means comparison is useless. I am not a better person because I can run faster that someone else. I am not a better person because I can articulate my thoughts better than someone else. I am not a worse human for not making as much money as someone else. I am not a worse human because I weigh more than someone else.  I am not better or worse than anyone else because I cannot possibly evaluate myself or others based on any one, two or twenty data points.

The only thing I can say when I compare myself to others is this; I am not as fast as him. I do not make as much money as her. I have a larger house then they do. I have an older car than she does. I have more hair than him, but less muscles. All of these things say nothing about either of us as a whole. They are meaningless comparisons based on arbitrary attributes.  If I am seeing myself as a larger whole, and seeing them as a larger whole , I will understand that I am comparing two unlike things. I just don’t have enough information and could never have enough information.

All these types of comparisons are damaging to our goal to be a happy and healthy person and be in happy and healthy relationships.  If you see yourself as better than another, you set yourself up for a fall if and when that comparison point changes.  For example, go ahead and think yourself better than that woman you saw on Maury Povich who cheated on her husband with other men, but do it at your own peril. Life might come and bite you in the rear in ways you simply cannot comprehend at this moment.

It is exactly this that happens to people who at one time have money but then lose it. It is what happens to those who have fame and then lose it. When they are at their peak in fame or money they use that as a prop for their self-worth. They compare themselves with others that don’t have these things and see themselves as having more worth because of it. Their self-esteem is wrapped around it. When things change, their self-worth crashes. We all know the stories where people turn to drugs or even self harm when their circumstances change. It all has to do with these people never seeing themselves as a whole human, but instead choosing to value themselves on just a few data points.  Some people recover, some never do.

In the opposite,  some people dwell in the depths of depression because they cannot see themselves as the sum of a whole. They see themselves as their failed marriage. They see themselves as their lower paying job. They see themselves as but one or two attributes in the mirror.

If you want to start being a happier and healthier person you simply have to start thinking rationally. Seeing yourself as a whole is part of thinking rationally.  It might actually be the single most important step.

If you can see yourself as the sum of thousands of data points, you can see others in the same light. If you see others in this manner, you can then understand that they are fallible. You can see others’ value as more than just one or two interactions or incidents. It allows you to start to let go of your expectations that others will behave as you think they should.  As we now know, your expectations of others and yourself are your biggest obstacles to being happy.

I believe that I have now covered what you will need to understand and incorporate in your life for you to comprehend everything I will speak of in my next few video series.

This will be, hopefully, the last video that I am reading from a script. From here on, I will be speaking  strictly of my own ideas and thoughts and will try and work from just a basic outline of what I want to say. I hope everyone got something out of my Foundations series – from here on I really take a huge turn when it comes to what you think you know about relationships and life and how one must operate in both.

For now, I am Diego Abrams and this is Triscele Life and Relationships.

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