5 Self-Worth Patterns: Which one are you?

Know your triggers: Dr. Cory Middleton reveals 5 common self-worth patterns

Been on the company resilience program and yet still getting stressed? Your pattern of self-worth may be getting triggered.

Self-worth refers to a learned sense of value we place on ourselves – ‘what can I get for who I am?’ Your particular style of self-worth was likely set for you during your formative teenage years. It is during those impressionable years that you learn what personal qualities ‘get’ the most social acceptance, love and respect.

Take a moment to think back to your younger self. What where you good at? What did you get recognition for? What personal qualities did your family and friends come to love about you? Here are 5 of the most common self-worth patterns, which one can you relate to the most?

  1. Ability
    The ‘Ability’ self-worth pattern comes about by being recognised as someone who has above average skills in any particular area. Perhaps you were a smart kid. Or maybe you always excelled in physical strength, speed or fitness. Maybe you had some real creative skills? A good cook. Great social skills. Known to be a deeply ethical person or someone to be relied upon. Perhaps you just always got the results.

    Whatever the ability or collection of abilities, a person tends to go on trying to prove that ability into adulthood. They can start to question their self-worth if they get to a point in life where they can’t continue achieving superior ability. People get particularly sensitive to negative feedback on that ability. Self-worth becomes contingent on maintaining a level of prowess in particular areas of importance.

  2. Appearance
    The ‘Appearance’ self-worth pattern can develop from growing up as a particularly attractive person (or longing to be attractive). People learn that the way they look can get them advantages in life.

    The appearance self-worth pattern can also develop through growing up in a family that were often anxious about how others perceived them. The impressionable person learns that one must appear a certain way in life to be considered worthy by others.

    As long as a person can maintain whatever appearance they need for their self-worth, they remain satisfied. All effort therefore goes into maintaining the appearance. However this self-worth pattern can become overly sensitive to comments about their appearance in life.

  3. Liked
    Some people have the need to be ‘Liked’ self-worth pattern. For this pattern there is a very real and ongoing need to gain social approval. This pattern is often developed through being a socially accepted kind of person through teenage years, or at least learning that being socially accepted was one of the most important things in life.

    This style values social skills above all. This therefore leaves them to be highly sensitive to rejection. Self-worth is contingent on maintaining good social connectedness.

  4. Authentic
    The ‘Authentic’ self-worth pattern values realness and being a down to earth, genuine kind of person. They have learnt to place the most value on being soulful, considerate and a person of great integrity. They don’t stand for bull sh#t or fluff. They don’t need the exuberance. Their strong preference is to continuously be open and authentic at all times.

    The authentic self-worth pattern values realness in every aspect, including being vulnerable or being open about life-stresses. Given this self-worth pattern values the highs as much as the lows, it often leads to more secure sense of self-worth. What can trigger this style though, is when people question their level of authenticity or their personal integrity.

  5. Make a difference
    The ‘Make a Difference’ self-worth pattern is for those who have learnt that making a meaningful difference in this life is the ultimate measure of a person’s value. It’s about contribution. Legacy. The difference they make to others. It’s about living a meaningful life.

    This pattern is triggered most when others take away their power to make a difference. For example, if others choose to downplay or ignore their efforts – they feel ‘what difference do I make?’ They don’t do well in environments that are overly controlled or monotonous. They need to feel their efforts contribute to a greater good.

So which of the above patterns drive your self-worth? You may find it’s a combination between a couple of the above styles. The question of self-worth is an important one in executive coaching. It is important to understand what your pattern is, how it came to be that way, and does it help or hinder you in the way you interact with others today? You may have heard of the mid-life crisis. This is really a crisis of self-worth. This is the time in a person’s life where the pattern of self-worth they have employed for such a long time now no longer serves them. Throughout the mid-life crisis people describe finding themselves. Finding the value for themselves rather than a self-worth pattern that relies on others to act a certain way. Whatever your pattern, you can learn to understand it and develop better ways of valuing the self. A resilient self is a real possibility.