Self Worth

I thought I’d do something I haven’t done before – open a post up for comments.

This is my version of an exercise from Dr Kristin Neff’s book.

The exercise is for helping you reduce the extent to which your feelings of self worth are contingent on being superior to others. Or, as Kristin puts it, helping you “Opt out of the self esteem game.”

If, to have self-worth, we have to be better than average in all important domains, then our feelings of self-worth will be shaky and we’re likely to be defensive.

There are 3 questions.
– What are 5 important skills you’re better than average at?
– What are 5 important skills you’re average at?
– What are 5 important skills you’re worse than average at?

Your answers for all 3 questions should be skills that are generally considered important in our society and that are important to you personally. In other words, you’d really like to be better than average at the skill.

This shouldn’t be like when people go to a job interview and get asked their worst quality and they say they’re a perfectionist because they think it will help them get hired.

I’m going to share my examples and if you want to share your examples, chime in in the comments. You might find that sharing publicly (even just using your first name), might help reduce your feelings of shame about the important skills you’re average or worse than average at, and correspondingly help with defensiveness and avoidance. This is the principle of Opposite Action.

My examples

What are 5 things you’re better than average at?

1. Finding information.
2. Synthesizing vast quantities of information.
3. Incorporating new information into my ways of working (e.g., when I read new studies, new technologies emerge, or clients say “Could we do more of this and less of that?”) (provided the information is presented clearly).
4. Nutting out difficult problems (from how to do something on the computer, to how to help clients overcome their problems).
5. Being a romantic partner.

What are 5 things you’re average at?

1. Being a family member.
2. Writing.
3. Being organized.
4. Self-discipline.
5. Cooking.

What are 5 things you worse than average at?

1. Networking.
2. Sharing.
3. Being a friend.
4. Being in a group.
5. Driving.

If you want to contribute your examples, I would LOVE that. This was a hard exercise to share without giving into the temptation to be self-presentational rather than honest, so you might find that this aspect is hard for you too.

Tips: keep your focus on skills rather than traits, and keep the comments to sharing your own information. I like my back and forth conversations to be in person, so I don’t get into back and forth discussions on the internet, and if you want personal help…. people pay me for that 😉

Can you see the flaw in self worth being contingent on being better than average?
It means that, in any domain, at least half of people are either going to be very defended against admitting being average/less than average, or feel bad.

If you don’t see the existing comments followed by a comment box, click on the blog post title “Self Worth” to go to the permalink page. Its there.