Feeling worthless or having no self-worth can leave a person depressed and low on motivation to turn things around. Helping your patients find self-worth can give them the push they need to successfully complete their substance abuse counseling. But how do you do it? First, you need to understand one critical fact…
Self-Worth Isn’t Self-Esteem
Having no sense of self-worth is very different and more destructive than having no self-esteem. Self-esteem is what we think and feel about yourself based on our recent accomplishments or failures, whereas self-worth is internal recognition that we have inherent value and are worth something. Basing self-worth off of external factors can be mentally and physically damaging, as one study from the University of Michigan found, which is why the pursuit of self-worth is beneficial to long-term mental health.
The 3 Step Process to Finding Self-Worth
Luckily, there are many ways to find and grow self-worth. You can assist your patients by following a simple 3-step process:
Step #1: Stop Comparing
The first and most critical way to recognize self-worth is to stop comparing ourselves to others. We all do it; we compare ourselves to someone who’s doing what we want to be doing. Then, we feel like nothing or a failure. These negative thoughts are mentally stressful and degrade our sense of worth. First, your patient must learn to positively deal with these negative thoughts. Then, they must learn to stop comparing themselves to others and draw strength from their uniqueness.
Step #2: Set Realistic Goals
Setting goals and accomplishing them can be truly rewarding. It’s a great way to build a long-term sense of self-worth. While we may gain or lose self-esteem based on recent failures or successes, the ability to consistently accomplish goals that we genuinely desire builds a true sense of self-worth. Learning to play a new sport or instrument can be a great challenge, but it can result in a greater sense of achievement. Reading one book a month is also an accomplishment to be proud of. Achieving goals like these not only results in an increased feeling of self-worth just by accomplishing them, but they also make us smarter and more active, which can go a long way in the pursuit of self-worth. As we see ourselves become more, we realize our intrinsic value and ability to accomplish what we put our mind to. Encourage your clients set realistic goals. Praise their successes, and help them learn to stay positive about their setbacks and failures.
Step #3: Learn to Say No
Mastering the art of saying “no” without seeming rude is no easy task. But lacking the ability to say “no” can degrade our sense of value by making us feel like we lack necessary control over our life course. By learning to say “no,” we begin to use more of our free time to accomplish our goals, taking away the potential for others to stop us from completing what we truly desire.
These three methods are most effective when used together to find self-worth, although individually they can still help us recognize that we are all intrinsically valuable. You can incorporate each, as appropriate, in your treatment planning.