Self-Esteem and Values
Donna Kimmel, PhD, 2/17/2017
A forty-two year old client told me she felt as if she was always in the supporting role in a movie – never the lead character. When I asked her for evidence of that point of view, she wasn’t able to describe anything specific. She said it was just a feeling of not being as good as others.
If this woman had had undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), there would have been a very good, concrete and real reason she was unhappy with herself. People with undiagnosed ADD usually know they aren’t actually behaving/acting/performing as competently as they believe they could. They usually reproach themselves, and, often, because they tell “little white lies” to avoid external criticism, they feel like imposters.
However, this client did not have ADD. She had a dim view of herself, “for no good reason.” (There’s always a pretty good reason but, this isn’t the time to discuss it.) I wondered how she measured herself compared to others, since being in the supporting role, implied there was always some other person she considered more important or valuable acting in the lead role.
She told me that she compared herself to most other people. “Wow” I said. “That seems to me to be a fruitless task. How about comparing yourself to your own values? By the way, what are your values? And, do you live up to your own values? Do you think you’re a good person? Why? What do you do that you believe a good person would do?”
After a pretty deep discussion about her values and evidence of how her behavior was generally congruent with her values, she began to think about whether she was in a supporting role – in her own movie . The conclusion? By evaluating herself by her own perfectly valid standards and values, she discovered she was definitely the leading lady in her own movie - the only movie (life) worth watching.