In the Confidence pillar of the Foundations of Wellbeing Program, this week’s theme is Feeling Good About Yourself. As profoundly social animals, we have a deep need to feel good about ourselves, especially in relation to others.
We know intellectually that we have good qualities – but deep down we don’t feel that good about ourselves at times, often with related feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, harsh self-criticism and shame. Can we see ourselves accurately, especially our talents, skills, kindness and good intentions? Do we have appropriate, well-deserved feelings of worth? Is it easy for us to feel like a basically good person?
Valuing and feeling valued is a healthy kind of social supply. As our ancestors became more social, it became increasingly important for individuals to legitimately value others and feel valued themselves. This valuing is a healthy need.
Many people in your life value you, people you have taught or helped, friends and family, people who like you and people who see the little kid in you.
They value you by appreciating, thanking, respecting, admiring, complimenting you and by recognizing the good intentions in you. Does their valuing of you feel real even if you are not perfect? Their valuing of you is an objectively real mirroring of what is true and real about you. Plus, it’s their gift to you, and it would be rude not to accept it. Can we value ourselves in a similar fashion? We can if we see the good intentions, the innate abilities, acquired skills and other capabilities such as warm feelings for others.
Remorse is sadness, a proportionate, appropriate response to genuine wrong-doing. It implies “I did something wrong”, unlike regret which implies only that something is problematic, with no assumption of
responsibility or moral fault. Remorse is not excessive, ruminative self-criticism or shaming. It is an accurate assessment that helps avoid the trap of unfair guilt and helps us know that we are good people.
Seeing yourself as a good person
One method for doing this is to bring to mind key people who see you as a basically good person. Then recognize why they see you in this way.
“If only you could sense how important you
are to the lives of those you meet; how
important you can be to people you may
never even dream of. There is something
of yourself that you leave at every meeting
with another person.” – Fred Rogers
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” –Diane Von Furstenberg