Table of Contents

Part One:

What you need to know to be worthwhile

Part two:

Putting what you’ve learned into practice

Introduction to Born To Be Worthless

As we enter the second decade of the new millennium, studies are revealing that the days of people repeating self-empowerment expressions to boost their self-esteem are over. Not only this, but that mantras of self-affirmation can actually harm rather than help people who suffer from low self-esteem.[1] With apologies to Stuart Smalley, it looks like “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” just won’t cut it anymore. The fact that you have picked up this book attests to the notion that it’s likely not cutting it with you anymore, either.

In Born to be Worthless I introduce a new and dramatically different approach to overcoming low self-esteem. First off, I believe that it is crucial for us to understand the origins of our low self-esteem before we can transcend it. I believe that self-esteem develops and emerges during early childhood, before we can remember. It is my contention that our first and enduring understanding of our self-worth is that we are expendable, that we are not worthwhile and that we need to induce others to treat us as though we were worthwhile in order to feel worthwhile. I argue that we do not know how to make ourselves feel worthwhile on our own and that unless we specifically learn how to value ourselves we go to our graves depending on others for a sense of self-worth.

I will explain why this dependency on others for self-worth has currency, even though it seems so limiting. I make a case for changing the arrangement whereby we cease to rely on others for self-worth and learn to rely on ourselves instead. I believe that this is not only possible but necessary. I will explain how to accomplish this reliance on self rather than on others for a healthy sense of self-esteem. This explanation will detail the specific steps required to make this change.

To briefly summarize these steps, they are: Becoming Informed and Putting What You’ve Learned Into Practice.

“Becoming Informed” refers to acquiring an understanding of the origins of our self-esteem so that we can appreciate the flaws in our original understanding of ourselves and therefore the flawed basis upon which we formed our views of our self-worth or lack thereof. “Becoming Informed” also involves coming to an understanding and appreciation of the true nature of reality and the world, in contrast to the distorted view we acquired in early childhood. This information is crucial to the next step, “Putting What You’ve Learned Into Practice”. This step can be divided into two parts: “Informed Decision-Making” and “Practice”.

“Informed Decision-Making” refers to the understanding that self-worth can be a matter of decision, choice and proclamation—and not a matter of performance, of something earned. But for this choice to be meaningful, it needs to be rooted in the understanding gained in the first step, “Becoming Informed”. Knowledge is power, and the power to change rests on a sound understanding of self-esteem’s origins and purpose in the human condition. This kind of personal decision, if not founded on sound information, risks being uninformed and therefore powerless to bring about meaningful personal change. There is a precise process of decision-making that can lead to the decision to be or to become worthwhile.

Once we have decided that we are worthwhile, we need to become worthwhile. We have to become what we have decided to be, and we achieve this through the next step, “Practice”. Only through practising being worthwhile can we become worthwhile.

There are three steps associated with “Practice” and they can be thought of as the three R’s of emotional literacy: “Recognize”, “Remember” and “Rehearse”.

“Recognize” refers to recognizing our feelings and our old patterned ways of responding to situations. “Remember” means remembering the new and different way we have decided to be, and “Rehearse” refers to acting on this decision by rehearsing our way of being in situations as people who have decided to be worthy for our own sake and not as determined by others.

It should be stated from the outset that these steps are readily within the grasp of all of us. Some of the concepts are a little complex and require attention and effort in order to master them. Effort is also required to practise being the person who we have decided to be because, in one sense, it is like kicking an old habit and replacing it with one we decide is better for us. Changing old habits is never easy. It requires commitment and effort, but it is ultimately possible. The only impediment to achieving healthy self-esteem is a lack of interest and commitment. This book will provide the information and step-wise approach necessary to make it happen.

[1] Wood, J., Elaine Perunovic, W., & Lee, J. (2009). Positive Self-Statements: Power for Some, Peril for Others Psychological Science DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02370.x