Healthy, Balanced Self-Worth
The third “commandment” of sound character challenges us to achieve and keep a healthy, balanced sense of self worth. (Because of various internet protocols, you will not generally find self-worth hyphenated in this article.) To refresh, here again is the full command:
You are neither an insignificant speck nor are you so precious or essential to the universe that it simply cannot do without you. Keep a balanced perspective on your sense of worth.
This command is straightforward. But how do we accomplish it? And what does it mean to secure and maintain a balanced sense of self worth? It’s difficult to discern what this task is all about and how to master it. That’s especially true because for many years many pop psychology books told us some very unhelpful things. For example, they insisted that you can never have too much self-esteem. Some even claimed that most people’s problems stemmed from impaired self-esteem. Moreover, many promoted as gospel the notion that whenever we see what appears to be ego-inflation on the surface, insecurity and poor self-image surely lurks underneath. (See also: Ego Inflation and Narcissism.)
These days, all too many among us think far too much of themselves. And many of these folks aren’t struggling with inner feelings of low worth. The reasons a person can develop an unhealthily unbalanced sense of personal worth are many. I’ll talk about some of them in just a bit. But whatever the reason, any imbalance in one’s sense of self worth always reflects an impaired relationship with one’s higher power. A skewed sense of self is not merely a psychological matter. As the stories in The Judas Syndrome illustrate, it’s a deeply spiritual one.
Plenty of individuals I know came from backgrounds that made them feel horribly about themselves. And some of these folks developed compensatory personas. That is, they outwardly acted important because they were unconsciously desperate to prove their worth. But people can come to an inflated sense of self in other ways, too. For example, I’ve known individuals who at a very early age had every reason to believe they were the highest functioning member of their family. When your parents are absent, dysfunctional, strung out on drugs, etc. that can easily happen. I’ve also know folks who were quite gifted and knew just how gifted they were. And the reason they came to feel so great about themselves was because they had no appreciation for where their gifts came from.
Striking the Right Balance
As is true for so many things in life balance is the key. Plenty of folks get into dysfunctional relationships and subject themselves to abuse because they lack a healthy sense of self worth. But those who abuse are most often those who think far too much of themselves. True, some folks try to build themselves up by demeaning and/or oppressing others. But there many others who simply feel entitled to do as they please, to whomever they please, whenever they please. Why? Because they just know how special, important, and superior they are.
It’s hard to develop a balanced sense of self worth in a culture that promotes and rewards egomaniacal thinking and a sense of entitlement. For more on these important topics see:
- The Egomaniacal Thinking of the Disturbed Character
- PP. 140-141 in Character Disturbance
- Living in the Age of Entitlement
- Our Culture of Entitlement Impedes Character Growth
- Keeping a Balanced Sense of Self-Worth
But securing and maintaining a balanced sense of self is crucial to sound character. So, in the coming weeks I’ll have much more to say about this important commandment.
My Seattle workshop is reaching capacity for the in-person audience. But there’s no limit to the live-streaming audience. Find details at PESI.
Look for more information on the new Character Matters program in a few weeks.
6 thoughts on “Cultivating Healthy Self Worth”
Thank you Dr. Simon. This is the subject that hits home for me. If I would have had a better sense of value for myself I would have never been subjected to my ex-narc husband. I think this is the key, to value yourself for the fact that you were created and loved by God, not for your looks, or other ways that the world values – money, possessions, status, etc. Good character is a goal we can all strive for, no matter what our resources.
Very interesting.But there isn’t God.
I agree. If I had been taught by example to better value myself at home, I don’t think I would’ve had such a brutal existence in my first marriage. I had the police “visit my home” more than family did.
Thank God after 2 1/2 yrs I decided he behaved worse than a person has the right to and filed for divorce. By 3 yrs it was finally over. Or so I thought. I went back home for less than a yr, and was subjected to my severely disturbed father who showed his hatred to his daughter and grandkids everyday.
I went on to go live in an apartment with my 2 kids and begin to try to heal. I asked Jesus into my heart and started going to church, where 2 of my siblings attended.
I wasn’t aware at that time that that church believed their sins were forgiven, but mine were not. I was treated much like a slave there. I was so grateful to God for freeing me from my fear that I had no idea that the people there were trying to just fill me up again.
I served in that church as a greeter, the nursery, toddlers, vbs, the choir, decorating, landscaping, and teaching sunday school.
Today, I don’t have ONE single friend from that church. Nor do I have one from the church I attend now. I’m struggling today with the selfishness of people in general. In my community, for 10 yrs I reached out, I served, I prayed for, I had folks to my home for dinners and parties never reciprocated. I’m struggling to want to live.
There is sermonaudio.com which offers so many pastors’ sermons. But then there are two pastors in particular who I know of that really seem to get the horror of abused women and how the church often shuns the abused woman and gives all sorts of grace, cheap, blanket forgiveness, and support to the abuser.
CRC, which you’ll find at lightfordarktimes.com offers an online church membership. The pastor, Jeff Crippen, talks about evil abusers hiding out in the church, and so much false teachings around divorce, abusers, men’s traditions being considered biblical/from God, (instead of men), and a whole host of other things. His sermons are offered in PDF, audio, and video. There is the inclusion of hymns and songs, so one can really feel as though one is a part of the church experience, doing one’s own worship from home.
Many survivors cannot, for various reasons, mostly related to trauma, make it to a church, and so many abused women want a safe church, of which there seem to be very few.
Unholycharade.com is also run by Pastor Jeff Crippen. There’s posts about Scripture, the church’s bad teachings regarding abuse, abusers, and what to do about evil lurking in the pews.
Rebecca Davis, at heresthejoy.com also offers posts which untwist Scripture that is used by so many abusers to further oppress, control, and shame their victims.
Hopefully Dr. Simon doesn’t mind me posting this, as they are really great resources as far as church, Christian teachings, and Scripture goes, as such relate to abused women.
Jamie, thank you for this online church info. I too am struggling to find comfort within the Church I joined after many years of narcissistic abuse. I grew up in a very strict Baptist home, and married a minister at age 20 who turned out to be an overt narcissistic abuser. I divorced him after 7 years and had one child. Five years later I married a man who turned out to be a covert narcissistic abuser—he was an expert! I stayed with him for 40 years—the last four of which were horrifying as the realization finally came to light. I firmly believe God provided my wake up calls, which I heeded in rebuilding my Christian relationship with Him. In doing so, I joined a church, but am feeling somewhat ostracized. I joined a Bible study group, but found the leader very controlling and opinionated, so, I dropped out of the class. I attended a Sunday School class for months and have noticed that no one interracts with me, or even seems to want to. I enjoy the main church service and the music, and have made good friends with some ladies in the choir. I also, volunteer with VBS, the nursery and Operation Christmas Child and get satisfaction from that.
I believe my therapy and healing process from NPD, thanks in great part to Dr. Simon’s books and blogs, has made me very aware of toxic dynamics in my life. But I am still in the process, and not quite sure if I am over-thinking or over-feeling sometimes. I have been a member of my church for a year, and plan on giving the situation more time. But I appreciate your information about these other online worship options and will be checking them out.
God bless you,
I am so sorry you have experienced this type of treatment. I know its difficult when you give and don’t receive. I was just told church is for fellowship, not friendship? I think the most difficult fact in life is we can’t truly depend on many people at all.
It also seems to me the quality of people today have deteriorated from how society was years ago. I know churchs can be very accepting and at the same time petty. I think one has to look at what the reason truly is we are going to church for.
I mean, the main purpose is to worship, though I wish it were differnet too. It is very difficult being alone and if you can’t find friends in the church one wonders. We all need to be acknoledged and appreciated as a person.
I understand the wanting not to live but remember it is not God that is rejecting you it is man. satan and his minions tell us we are lacking, please don’t give others or the evil one power over you to feel this way.
Just know, you have friends on this blog and we all care about you. You are not alone, we are all Kindred Spirits.
Hugs dear one…..