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The Role of Self-Esteem and Well-Being
Life Traps continuing education psychology CEUs

Section 17
I Am Worth It! Road Map

CEU Question 17 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Couples
Counselor CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, Psychologist CEs, MFT CEUs

Often client’s involved in an “I’m Unlovable” Lifetrap also have a very low sense of self worth. One option to help client’s evaluate negative thoughts, feelings, and opinions is the “I Am Worth It! Road Map.” The first step is for your client to observe exactly what circumstances occasioned those thoughts and feelings. The client should stick to objective facts so they can see and hear information that might hold up in a court of law, not assumptions about the motives of the other person, or surmises they can’t prove. If your client is in doubt about how to describe the objective facts in any situation, you may want to give them the following example, “Somebody loudly calling you a jerk is an objective fact. Someone looking at you with an expression you think means she thinks you are a jerk is your interpretation of her expression and would not hold up in a court of law."

After your client has formulated in their own mind the objective facts, they might even want to write out the description to see if it holds up upon reading. They are ready to evaluate a negative thought or feeling by asking themselves four questions.

Reproducible Client Worksheet

Is this matter important to me?
If you answer "No," you are wasting your time even thinking any further about the situation. Drop the matter completely without bothering to ask the last three questions. Many people find that often they can get rid of anger by simply telling themselves, “This is not important.” On the other hand this statement may not suffice, so at the end of this section additional “erasure” strategies will be explained.

If your answer is “Yes, this is important to me,” proceed to the second question.

Are my thoughts and feeling appropriate, given the facts?
This can be tricky. Try to consider only exact, objective circumstances. Sometimes your knowledge of the facts will be too scanty to substantiate a confident "Yes." In a marketing meeting, the updated projections of sales have just torpedoed your ideas for a new advertising campaign, and one of your coworkers is sitting across the table, with an expression that you suspect reflects secret pleasure. But you really can’t be sure that his faint smile means he is out to get you. Maybe he’s thinking about heading for the beach just as soon as this boring meeting ends.

Suppose instead of silently smiling, the coworker had blurted out, “It doesn’t matter. Your scheme wasn’t going to work anyway!” Then the objective facts to be described are altered. Your coworker has labeled your idea unworkable, and it is appropriate to feel anger or some other negative emotion when attacked this way.

As with the first question, if your answer to this second question is "No," reconsider your first negative reaction. You may decide your initial thought or feeling was inappropriate, in which case you may be able to let it go. We’ll detail later strategies to use in the not-uncommon eventuality where you still feel upset.

Here’s another consideration. Your first thought or emotion probably won’t be your only one, once you have time to think about the matter. “I may not be angry when I think about it, but I am disappointed that my advertising plans won’t get approved.” You can then subject any newly discovered negative feeling to the same questions.

Having come this far, you next decide, by asking two additional questions, whether you want to act on your thoughts and feeling including whether you plan to report them.

Is the situation modifiable?
Consideration of the objective circumstances may lead you to conclude that nothing you can realistically do will fix this unpleasant situation. Life is full of such occasions:

· The TV news shows pickets carrying signs supporting a position you oppose.
· Your spouse needs you at home to help prepare for dinner guests, but you’re stuck in traffic.
· The rain starts just after you’ve arrived at the beach for a much-needed day off.

Of course, if your unhappiness is caused by another person, you’ll need to listen to the other party and try to put yourself in his or her shoes; otherwise, you may be overlooking solutions the other person can help you to see.

Worth It
When I balance the needs of myself and others, is taking action Worth It?

Your goal is truly good relationships, which will mean considering the feelings, thoughts, and needs of both yourself and others. Balancing the two requires a lifelong juggling act. Aim for the right balance.

Again, until you have communicated with the other parties, you may not be fully enough aware of their perspective to answer this question well.

You’ve probably noticed a letter or words at the start of each of the four questions you will always want to ask in evaluation your feeling: Important? Appropriate? Modifiable? Worth It? Together, these letters and words spell out an important message:

I Am Worth It!

Whenever you become aware of a negative thought or feeling, just remind yourself, I Am Worth It! And the four questions will pop up on your mental screen, ready for use. If any of your four answers is "No," you need to accept the status quo. Here are some aids to help you quell negative feelings and thoughts.

1. Reason with yourself. The process of answering the evaluative question will lead to “self-statements” that often do the trick. “Hey, it’s not really important!” “I can’t be sure it’s really some jerk holding the elevator just so he can finish flirting with the pretty receptionist on the thirty-second floor.” “Only nature can stop this rain that’s ruining my weekend!” Sometimes reasoning with yourself will suffice; at other times this process may defuse your feelings, but they are still there, albeit in milder form.
2. Tell yourself “Stop!” Silently yell at yourself to stop concentrating on the disturding situation. Sometimes this action will be enough to derail your train of thought. On other occasions, it will at least calm you down a little bit.
3. Distract yourself. Pick up a tabloid to read in the slow-moving “express” checkout line at the supermarket. Plan your next vacations when stuck in the traffic jam. Mentally refurbish a room in your home while waiting for someone. Right now, before you need them, try to come up with your own list of favorite distractions. Children? Grandchildren? Pets? The NCAA basketball tournament? You name it!
4. Meditate. It is good for everyone to be able to focus attention, at will. The basic technique is simple.
-Pay attention to your breathing.
-On the in breath or the out, it doesn’t really matter, say a word or phase that helps you relax. Try “Ommn,” “Calm down,” or “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
-When your mind wanders, which will happen, simply observe that and come back to concentrating on breathing and saying the word or phrase.

If you find yourself needing this “heavy gun” each day, practice meditation for ten to twenty minutes, so that you become skilled. Regular meditation enables you to center yourself quickly and quiet your mind and body. It’s a way “on the spot” to get out from under a situation engendering negative thoughts and feelings.

On the other hand, if you answer all four questions with a “Yes, I am worth it!”, you need to act.

If you decide action is called for, you next need to decide what the problem involves, just a situation or a particular person? If it’s just a situation, you will want to resolve the issue. If another person is the problem, you will need to decide between assertion and acceptance.

(Adapted from Williams, Virginia & Williams, Redford, Life Skills. Times Books. New York, New York. 1997)

Personal Reflection Exercise #6
The preceding section contained the “I Am Worth It” road map. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section of the Manual in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 17
What are four questions used to create an “I Am Worth It!” Road Map for your client? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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