A crisis of self-worth Part 2: When you don’t like yourself, everybody pays.

July 26, 2022

“Thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself.”
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

Lately I’ve been wondering whether a self-worth crisis is lurking behind much of our societal edginess and personal sadness. Could a self-esteem catastrophe be fueling our historic levels of anxiety and depression? Is this why the great resignation is showing no signs of slowing down?

I raised those questions last week in the first of three posts about the self-worth catastrophe we find ourselves in. I believe that self-worth is the essential third leg of the well-being stool:

Happiness + Contentment + Self-worth = Well-being

These are the questions that when answered “no!” generate crushingly poor self-esteem

  1. “Am I desired?”
  2. “Do I matter?”
  3. “Am I successful?”
  4. “Am I appreciated?”
  5. “Does anybody care what I think?”
  6. “Do I look good?”

The personal cost of low self-worth is obvious. Everyday living becomes tough to manage through the fog of depression, anxiety and crippled physical health.

But what of the corporate impact of low self-esteem? Equally devastating are the outcomes in a company or community or family when any of its individual members struggle with self-worth.

For instance, when an individual believes “I’ll never succeed”, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lack of success becomes real because a person believes it is true. They can drift into procrastination fueled by their fear of failure. Or they can adopt a “What’s the use?” mindset that leads to diminished work effort.

If a person believes “I’m not wanted” or “I’m not appreciated”, it can generate a bitterness toward management that becomes an adversarial relationship.

When an employee struggles with the idea that “No one cares what I think”, there is a tendency for them to rally other fellow workers to “Team Aggrieved”, putting staff morale at peril.

And when any human being wrestles with the notion that “I do not matter”, their efforts can devolve into rote work as they fail to see meaning in what they do.

This is why low self-esteem is not simply an individual matter to be left between a person and their therapist. Company and community leaders need to take this into account as they craft their corporate people strategies. There’s an awful lot going on behind the eyes of the people who are your most crucial resource. And yes, there are ways of addressing the crisis of poor self-esteem…simple ways, actually…that will raise the well-being of our people, foster an ethos of empathy and strengthen the bottom line at the same time. I’ll suggest some of those ways next week.

Stay tuned.

It’s not what you are that is holding you back. It’s what you think you are not. Anonymous



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