How much do you value yourself, your life, and all your accomplishments? Believe me: In this day and age it is easy to feel demoralized, discouraged, and disheartened. There is unending hoopla about the importance of self-esteem. But is it always healthy or even good to feel “good” about yourself? Ask any narcissist. They feel great about themselves – even if they are deflating or debilitating everyone around them. Being close to a narcissist is like getting arrested. Everything you say or do can be used against you. So how many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb? None – they all use gas-lighting.

But really, how do we cultivate genuine self-respect and a feeling of worthiness? As children, many of us chose underlying beliefs about ourselves based on the powerlessness of childhood or even traumas. Feeling neglected by your mom, constantly criticized by your dad, or incessantly compared to your brother or sister can shatter your sense of self. You can spend a lifetime trying to forget a few minutes of your childhood.

There is not a soul on earth who does not fear rejection or abandonment – whether he knows it or not, or whether it’s conscious or not. We humans try to please others and win approval to ensure that it does not happen. But if we truly do not have faith in ourselves and our lovability, the feeling of safety is momentary. We thus never cease seeking approval, acceptance, and appreciation from others, no matter how energy-consuming it is. Still searching for that one person who will change your life? Try taking a look in the mirror.

It is nearly impossible to feel true worth in a culture that rejects and mocks all things spiritual and sacred. Remember that society profits from your self-doubt. By all means, please grant yourself permission to own your spiritual journey. If you are doing inner work, your life may be fueled by the desire to improve and even to help others. Your value does not decrease simply because there are those who cannot see your value, sweet friends.

Confident or arrogant? An inflated sense of self can convince you that you truly have abilities that you may not have. Perhaps you really see yourself as the center of your own Universe. Are there times you can be a bit more deferential or even humble? Hey, not to brag, but I can totally forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it.

Every child gets a participation trophy. “Woohoo! Good job!” You hear this literally everywhere there are parents and kids. Yes, yes, you are told day and night to have self-confidence; and whatever you do, make sure your kids do, too. But simply thinking highly of yourself, whether it’s merited or not, will leave you feeling quite empty in the end. You can only fool yourself for so long before your conscience shows up and says: “Oh, really?” It’s high time some parents stopped substituting “presents” for “presence.”

A sense of entitlement or unearned praises and pats on the back teach your children that all they need to do is “show up.” Well, guess what? Simply showing up is far from what is needed to succeed in this life. We humans become smarter and better through our own efforts. So go ahead: Cheer and congratulate your kids’ efforts, actions, and self-discipline. But please stop celebrating and applauding every time they do what is expected of them in daily life. I know: “Sorry I ruined your day by asking you to put your shoes away.” Experts say that children thrive on routine and structure. I find they thrive on killing my spirit and cheese sticks. Heh.

There’s nothing more off-putting than being with someone who has a grandiose view of himself with no substance behind it – especially since she is usually the only one unaware of her shortcomings. Sheesh. As for me…well, not to brag or anything, but I got a high score on my scale today.

I know, y’all. Parenthood can be the scariest hood you’ll ever go through. Never criticizing your child, even when it is warranted, because you fear you may dent his precious ego? Constantly offering choices to children? Good grief. Back in the day, there were two choices: Take it or leave it. Please take off those kid gloves. When children are not challenged, they will never reach their potential. Parents who are too afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.

By all means, sweet friends, develop a solid sense of self; but please make sure that extends to caring about others, as well. Treat yourself like a friend. Live with integrity, making certain that your actions match your words. Take part in something larger than yourself. And include your family, too, while you’re at it. When you finally realize your true self-worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts. Oh, and if you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you’re doing business – not kindness. And, as always, sweet friends, I am right here.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at