I heard this really interesting podcast the other day by a Marriage and Family Therapist I've know for many years who is a member of my church. It touched on some of the issues the church culture can have as far as codependency and lack of self esteem.
"I often tell people that we don’t express our emotions for the benefit of how they’re going to respond to us. We really express ourselves for us. We’re the reason; we mattered enough that we had a voice. " He then starts talking about self esteem, but says the term is no longer very useful and he prefers to discuss self worth and self efficacy as what we're really about.
This really resonates for me because I struggled with my self worth for most of my life, really up until I was 35. Then I had a spiritual experience that just kind of erased that for me, but I am very aware that self worth can be totally independent from belief in God, and from whether or not you are a capable person. Now there are a few people who aren't that great who like themselves just fine, but more often I see people, especially women, who do and achieve so much but confess to feeling like a fraud, like someone is going to pull back the curtain and see the broken adolescent inside.
"self worth is dependent on an idea of an unchangeable, immutable worthiness of our self that isn’t up for negotiation; it isn’t up for discussion: We matter anyway. There has to be this idea within us, and a lot of us don’t have it, that good, bad, not matter what we do, what we produce, no matter what we achieve in this life, that we are still valuable, that we have an unchangeable and irrefutable value within us..."
The hosts of the podcast ask, how do you explain that, where someone doesn't understand? I don't know if he succeeds, but I really liked his answer:
"The real discussion is am I a person that can be replaced? No. I know that’s so cliché, “you’re irreplaceable to me” well, it’s really true. We are a product of everything that we’ve learned through experience, our nature, our nurture our biochemical makeup, the whole thing, we are a package equation that no one else will duplicate; they cannot...
"And because we really can’t be duplicated, that means… I don’t believe in chance, I believe everyone who crosses our path to a degree … does so for a reason. So we come across people, we talk with them, we interact with them...if I have a value that has nothing to do with how good I am at my job... or make $100,000 a year, if I’m just valuable anyway, then it doesn’t seem to matter because as I interacted with someone, maybe what they needed from me wasn’t my $100,000 a year answer. Maybe what they needed from me was my compassion... Maybe what they needed was my smile when I looked past whatever clothes they were wearing..."
If you've seen The King's Speech, you have this guy who's the King of England, but he's broken inside with a speech impediment. You want to talk about a gulf between someone's self worth and their self efficacy (self efficacy being the things we produce that can be measured objectively.)
"...if all of our lives is based on our self efficacy… you’re destined for it to fall apart. Because you will ... lose that one magical job, or your children will grow up and you become an empty nester, you will have a partner that will pass away or leave you... if it’s all based on what you produce, all of those times are weak spots, not to mention every other little flip flop thing that happens during the day that can make our day harder. But if our value is already there and we do the best we can, our self efficacy is the best we can bring that day, in that circumstance, then we’re superstars."
The host then pursues how you can know if you have arrived at self worth so that you can know things won't knock you down. And this is where they come to the idea of self care, which isn't delved into at great length but I guess it comes down to whether we take time to recognize and embrace our self worth, which at the very beginning of the podcast he mentions the church (LDS) may not be so good at recognizing. Individual worth is one of the pillars of the young women's program, but I didn't get it from there, I found it in codependency recovery.
"day to day you’re not going to know that because you’re too much in it, but I think on a Today basis, I think we can know, and that’s really what self care really comes down to, is “am I taking care of myself enough today so that if my day just totally crumbles in front of me, that I’m not going to be a total wreck, am I going to be able to pick myself back up, am I going to be able to still care about my kids, and I going to be able to pick up the shambles of whatever horrible family reunion interaction I just had for the last four hours, am I going to be able to pick myself back up."
Well, this is probably still just a brochure for a place that looks like it would be a great place to go, but you don't have the map. It just excited me because it at least talked about a different path getting there.
Here's a link to the podcast (the whole thing is about spousal abuse, and there's some pretty direct discussion of marital issues in there, just a heads up like if you are listening and you have a kid who will asks their teacher about stuff you listen to online.) The self worth bit goes from just about 0:49:00 to 1:00:00.