Where Does Self Worth Come From?


Darlene Ouimet

I received the following question from a reader;

“Darlene, I wish I would wake up one morning with this deep sense of my own self worth. How did that happen for you? Was it something you had to think about enough before you felt it, or did you just feel it right away? This is where I’m struggling. I still so easily cave in to someone else’s opinion of me. And I see that valuing myself is at the heart of my entire future of healing and thriving.”

Dear Reader;

This was a long process for me; in fact this might be the definition of the 2nd process. ( I have come to see my process in two parts: the first part where I got the help I needed for my mental health issues and became a whole person and the second part where I learned how to live in that wholeness)

I certainly didn’t wake up one morning feeling a sense of my worth and identity and resolving never to be defined by anyone else ever again! As I have written before, after digging deeply into the root causes of my dissociative identity disorder and chronic depression, I began sorting out the truth from the false about myself with the help of my therapist. This was what I call part one of my recovery.

Next I learned to listen to the little voice in my head that caused me to doubt myself all the time.

In one of the self help programs that I used to be in, I had been taught to ignore the nagging self doubts and little messages of fear in my head. In my process of permanent recovery, I learned to listen to that voice and even respond to it. This was very frightening in the beginning because I was afraid that the voice was actually true!

First of all, I identified whose voice it really was. When I first started to learn how to do this, the voice I would identify would not be my own, but would be my mothers, or brothers, or an ex boyfriend. I would ask the voice what else it had to say to me, and I would keep listening to it until it had nothing else to say. The deeper that I went with this process, the more illogical and childlike the things that would come to my mind (the voice) would sound.

This process made me realize where my low self esteem and limiting beliefs came from in the first place, and also made me realize that most of my fears and beliefs were no longer valid. The more that I repeated this process, the more I realized that I was the one in my own way and that underneath those other voices, was my own voice telling me that I was not really valuable, or loveable or capable etc.

I realized soon enough that this was the core of my survival system and that I had used it since I was very young. My inner world was so rooted in self protection that deep down I was afraid to define myself as worthy, capable, confident, beautiful, and smart- all those true words about me- in case my new life of wholeness was going to be dangerous! Those voices and beliefs were a form of protection, but they were also counterproductive to my new life of freedom and they were holding me back in the past where I was unhappy, and broken.

This is a hard question to answer in one post, but I am sure I will be expanding on it in the future. I thank you for asking and welcome anyone that wishes to remain anonymous to either use a fake name or nick name in the comments section, or use the contact page and your questions will be answered this way.

~Wishing you the best of mental health!

~Darlene Ouimet

10 response to "Where Does Self Worth Come From?"

  1. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th January

    Hi Cheryl
    No, he wasn’t an internal family systems therapist, he practiced a what most closely resembled “causal therapy” which is what I write about here. Looking at the “root cause” of where it all began. There may be similarities to what you are writing about here, but I am unfamiliar with that sort of therapy. “the parts” that you are speaking of remind me of some of the ways that some therapy models deal with multiple personality disorder; the way that worked for me was not to put any emphasis on the parts but rather begin to accept from the beginning that each “part” was me and I focused more on finding out why I split in the first place. The focus was always in looking at the damage and what the trauma events caused me to believe about myself.
    I should also add that I therapy was not the only process that I went through before I started this website. Many of the things I write about here were discoveries that I made on my own as a result of keeping very close track of my own processes.
    Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Cheryl Posted: 26th January

    Darlene, was your therapist by any chance an Internal Family Systems therapist? (See selfleadership.org.) IFS is based upon the idea that we internalize our family in the form of “parts” while we’re growing up. When the people who cared for us were abusive, the parts take on the damaging voices of our abusers. The way to change these voices is to go through a process, similar to the one you describe, of talking with the parts and letting them know that our situation has changed and we are no longer at the mercy of abusive people. IFS says that all of our parts are good and have the best intentions to help us in the only way they know how, but they are stuck in the time in history when they were created. Now that our situation has changed, and we are free to get out of the abusive situation, the parts are ready for new roles within the new context. They just need to be made aware that things have changed. Most of the time, they are quite tired of the stressful jobs that they’ve been doing since childhood and they are ready to do something new, as soon as they feel safe enough to put their guard down. Then all kinds of previously unimaginable possibilities open up!

  3. By: Dale Posted: 15th June

    That was my thoughts as well, Darlene. Thanks. 🙂

  4. By: Dale Posted: 15th June

    I did post the link to this page in comment to her Darlene. 🙂

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th June

      Oh good, thanks Dale. This whole blog is pretty much about the answer to that question, so she might really find some insight here.
      Hugs, Darlene

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th June

      Hi Dale,
      Welcome, perhaps you can suggest your friend visit here. 🙂
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th January

    Thanks for visiting the blog and leaving a comment. Have a great day!

  6. By: Splinteredones Posted: 12th January

    This is very practical Description of your process. It will I’m sure help to guide us into the future. Thanks for this. 🙂

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