How do we feel about ourselves, think of ourselves, and express our self-image in action? That is the essence of self-worth. We need a solid foundation in self-worth of be of use to ourselves and others.
- A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. [Samuel Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain, “What Is Man and Other Essays” (1917).]
- Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her. [Popular saying, falsely attributed to Lao-Tzu.]
- I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him but what he thinks of himself. [widely attributed to Antoine de Saint- Exupéry]
- I will not be “famous,” “great.” I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one’s self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded. [Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary, (1973), October 29, 1933.]
- I am – somebody. [From a poem by William Holmes Borders, Sr., this simple affirmation served as a starting point for an inspiring social and political movement led by Jesse Jackson.]
We have identified and fleshed out our goal – our conception of justice as that which honors the worth and dignity of all people in the best way. We have recognized the problem of suffering, and evil. Having emptied our cups with humility, we are prepared to reconsider how we live in and are subject to an ordered universe, governed by the laws of nature and the nature of being human. With that groundwork, we can begin to address the problem of suffering, and to build an ethical/moral, religious and spiritual framework.
The Human Faith model operates from the perspective of the decision-maker: the valuer and ethical choice-maker, which for each of us is the self. Whatever others may do, however our physical and social environment may be, each of us has choices to make. Through those choices, we shape our lives and help to shape the lives of others, and the world. In thinking about that, remember that our model employs an understanding of the evolutionary process. In biology, an evolutionary understanding recognizes the seminal importance of the gene; in ethics, morality, religion, spirituality and law, an evolutionary understanding recognizes the seminal importance of each and every self.
A sense of self-worth is an essential ground-level building block in a powerful edifice of responsible personhood. It is a global concept, consisting of self-esteem (“I feel good about myself”), self-confidence (“I think well of myself”) and self-competence (the sense that comes from acting in a way that merits approval). It also includes an attitude (“I respect myself”); a value (“I value my life”); and a conviction (“My life matters”). Because we honor everyone’s self-worth, we respect, value and honor others as well as ourselves, but before we can do that effectively, we need a grounding in the self, a sense of self-worth. Like the adult sitting next to a small child on an airplane, we must take care of ourselves first so that we can then help others.
People who think too little of themselves, feel poorly about themselves, or do not develop life skills, will be less able to act in the world, either for themselves or for others. Often, when we feel guilty or ashamed, we punish ourselves. Guilt (“I think poorly of myself”), shame (“I feel poorly about myself”) and punishment (the act of completion) comprise the unholy trinity of self-destruction. So we have examined the components of self-worth, which are well recognized in psychology and the psychological literature, and are now ready to move forward into the broader world.
Technical and Analytical Readings
The research and literature on intrapersonal intelligence - an aspect of self-worth - are curiously sparse. One of Howard Gardner’s kinds of intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence is defined as “the ability to distinguish and identify various personal thoughts and feelings and to use them to understand one's own behavior”, or “the intelligence involved in self-understanding and in reflecting upon oneself, one’s skills, one’s motives. . .” Montessori educators emphasize its importance, while recognizing that this view of its importance is not widely accepted or emphasized.
According to the findings of one study, not everyone has measurable interpersonal intelligence. Generally, females score higher than males but boys report higher intrapersonal intelligence than girls, which could emphasize the significance of their having less. Grandiose narcissists score higher on intrapersonal intelligence than non-narcissists.
- Martin V. Covington, Making the Grade: A Self-Worth Perspective on Motivation and School Reform (Cambridge University Press, 1992).
- Brett W. Pelham and William B. Swann, “From self-conceptions to self-worth: On the sources and structure of global self-esteem,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 57(4), Oct 1989, 672-680.
- Amie E. Grills & Thomas H. Ollendick, “Peer Victimization, Global Self-Worth, and Anxiety in Middle School Children,” Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2002.
- Jennifer Crocker and Connie T. Wolfe, “Contingencies of self-worth,” Psychological Review, Vol 108(3), Jul 2001, 593-623.
- Jennifer Crocker, Riia K. Luhtanen, M. Lynne Cooper, and Alexandra Bouvrette, “Contingencies of Self-Worth in College Students: Theory and Measurement,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 85(5), Nov 2003, 894-908.
- M. Shany, J. Wiener and M. Assido, “Friendship Predictors of Global Self-Worth and Domain-Specific Self-Concepts in University Students With and Without Learning Disability,” J. Learn Disabil, March 4, 2012.
- K.S. Bang, S.M. Chae, M.S. Hyun, H.K. Nam, J.S. Kim and K.H. Park, “The mediating effects of perceived parental teasing on relations of body mass index to depression and self-perception of physical appearance and global self-worth in children,” J. Adv. Nurs., March 4, 2012.
- P. Jansen and K. Dahmen-Zimmer, “Effects of cognitive, motor, and karate training on cognitive functioning and emotional well-being of elderly people,” Front Psychol. 2012;3:40, February 20, 2012.
- B.H. Lim, L. A. Adams and M.M. Lilly, “Self-Worth as a Mediator Between Attachment and Posttraumatic Stress in Interpersonal Trauma,” J Interpers Violence. February 10, 2012.
- J. L. Jones, “Factors associated with self-concept: adolescents with intellectual and development disabilities share their perspectives,” Intellect Dev Disabil. 2012 Feb;50(1):31-40.
- J.L. Howell and J.A. Shepperd, “Reducing information avoidance through affirmation,” Psychol Sci. 2012 Feb 1;23(2):141-5.
- L.T. Mselle, K.M. Moland, B. Evjen-Olsen, A. Mvungi and T.W. Kohi, "’I am nothing’: experiences of loss among women suffering from severe birth injuries in Tanzania,” BMC Womens Health. 2011 Nov 15;11:49.
- Z.R. Hong, H.S. Lin, H.H. Wang, H.T. Chen and T.C. Yu, “The effects of functional group counseling on inspiring low-achieving students' self-worth and self-efficacy in Taiwan,” Int J Psychol. 2011 Jul 26.
- C.M. van Leeuwen, S. Kraaijeveld, E. Lindeman and M.W. Post, “Associations between psychological factors and quality of life ratings in persons with spinal cord injury: a systematic review,” Spinal Cord. 2012 Mar;50(3):174-87.
- J.S. Carter and J. Garber, “Predictors of the first onset of a major depressive episode and changes in depressive symptoms across adolescence: stress and negative cognitions,” J Abnorm Psychol. 2011 Nov;120(4):779-96.
- Martin V. Covington, Making the Grade: A Self-Worth Perspective on Motivation and School Reform (Cambridge University Press, 1992). See also “Self-Worth Theory” (Covington – 1976) and Professor Covington’s video presentations.
- Martin V. Covington, “The Self-Worth Theory of Achievement Motivation: Findings and Implications”, The Elementary School Journal, 85, No. 1, Special Issue: Motivation (Sep., 1984), pp. 4-20.
- Martin V. Covington, “The Motive for Self-Worth”, in R.E. Ames and C. Ames (eds.), Motivation in Education: Student Motivation (Academic Press, 1984), pp. 77-113.
- Jennifer Crocker and C.T. Wolf, “Contingencies of self-worth”, Psychological Review 2001 Jul;108(3):593-623.
- Rachel N. Lapari, Ph.D., and Sarra L. Hedden, Ph.D., “Serious Mental Health Challenges among Older Adolescents and Young Adults”, The CBHSQ Report (2014).
- Mingli Liu, Lang Wu and Qingsen Ming, “How Does Physical Activity Intervention Improve Self-Esteem and Self-Concept in Children and Adolescents? Evidence from a Meta-Analysis”, PLoS One (2015); 10(8): e0134804.
- A. Price and A.M. Tinker, “Creativity in Later Life”, Maturitas: 2014 Aug;78(4):281-6. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.05.025.
- Kimberly C. Canter and Michael C. Roberts, “A Systematic and Quantitative Review of Interventions to Facilitate School Reentry for Children with Chronic Health Conditions”, Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp. 1065-1075 (2010).
- Jennifer Crocker and Noah Nuer, “The Insatiable Quest for Self-Worth”, Psychology Inquiry, Vol. 14, No. 1 (2003).
- Yu Niiya and Jennifer Crocker, “Mastery Goals and Contingent Self-Worth: A Field Study”, Revue Internationale de Psychologie Sociale (2008/1, Tome 21), pp. 135-154.
- Ashwini Nadkarni, M.D., and Stefan G. Hofmann, “Why Do People Use Facebook?” Personality and Individual Differences, 2012 Feb. 1; 52(3): 243-249.
- Gordon Cochrane, “Role for a sense of self-worth in weight-loss treatments”, Canadian Family Physician, 2008 Apr.; 54(4): 543-547.
- Jennifer Crocker, et. al., “The pursuit of self-esteem: contingencies of self-worth and self-regulation”, Journal of Personality 2006 Dec;74(6):1749-71.
- Correll and B. Park, “A model of the in-group as a social resource”, Personal and Social Psychology Review 2005;9(4):341-59.
- See, however, the caveats at Jennifer Crocker and L.E. Park, “The costly pursuit of self-esteem”, Psychological Bulletin 2004 May;130(3):392-414.
From the dark side:
I am very sensible that nothing but the great power and unspeakable mercies of the Lord could relieve my soul from the heavy burden it laboured under at that time. -- A few days after my master gave me Baxter's Call to the unconverted. This was no relief to me neither; on the contrary it occasioned as much distress in me as the other had before done, as it invited all to come to Christ; and I found myself so wicked and miserable that I could not come--This consideration threw me into agonies that cannot be described; in so much that I even attempted to put an end to my life--I took one of the large case-knives, and went into the stable with an intent to destroy myself; and as I endeavoured with all my strength to force the knife into my side, it bent double. I was instantly struck with horror at the thought of my own rashness, and my conscience told me that had I succeeded in this attempt I should probably have gone to hell.
I could find no relief, nor the least shadow of comfort; the extreme distress of my mind so affected my health that I continued very ill for three Days, and Nights; and would admit of no means to be taken for my recovery, though my lady was very kind, and sent many things to me; but I rejected every means of relief and wished to die--I would not go into my own bed, but lay in the stable upon straw--I felt all the horrors of a troubled conscience, so hard to be born, and saw all the vengeance of God ready to overtake me--I was sensible that there was no way for me to be saved unless I came to Christ, and I could not come to Him: I thought that it was impossible He should receive such a sinner as me.
[A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself (1772).]
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suites, BWV 1007-1012 (1717-1723) (approx. 130-165 minutes): More than any other musical instrument, the cello sings in a solitary, plaintive voice. “. . . if the cello were to write music for itself, it would be the Bach cello suites.” “Not until Pablo Casals wandered into a dusty old music store with his father in 1889 coming across a secondhand copy of the Bach’s Cello Suites did musicians learn of these works. Casals encountered music that is rich and varied, dancelike and somber, that explores every technique and illuminates the soul. Once Casals recorded them in 1936, the suites opened a world to other cellists who began to clamor to know and to perform them, and they revealed the infinite possibilities of the cello to other composers.” These six suites are reflective and contemplative, and they cover the range of thought and emotions that expresses an attitude toward the self. “Cellists regard the suites as sacred touchstones for their instrumental art demanding the utmost in technique, interpretation and expression requiring years if not a lifetime to master. Listeners treasure a unique sound palette featuring the warm, deep and wooden sonority of the intimate solo cello so close to the natural human voice presenting a collection of musical short stories rich with elegant designs, wide-ranging emotions and transcendent reflections.” In the spring of every year, when hope is reborn, I look forward to hearing these magnificent works. Top performances are by Casals in 1936, Janigro in 1954, Fournier in 1960, Gendron in 1964, Starker in 1965, Shafran in 1976, Tortelier in 1983 (1, 4 and 5; 2, 3 and 6), Schiff in 1985, Rostropovich in 1991, Maisky in 1993, Bylsma in 1992, Lipkind in 2006, Queyras in 2007, Yang in 2008, Wispelwey in 2012, Jones in 2012, Watkin in 2015, Møldrup in 2018, Bertrand in 2019, and Malov in 2020. In 2022, Marina Tarasova played the suites at a faster tempo, giving them a more aggressive feel, and presenting another approach to self-worth. The six suites are:
- Suite No. 1 in G Major bwv 1007
- Suite No. 2 in D minor, bwv 1008
- Suite No. 3 in C Major, bwv 1009
- Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, bwv 1010
- Suite No. 5 in C minor, bwv 1011
- Suite No. 6 in D Major, bwv 1012
- Weinberg, Fantasia for Cello & Orchestra, Op. 52 (1953)
- Ziporyn, Pondok
- Justen, Sonaquifer Suite for Solo Viola
- Emiliana Giuliani, Opera omnia per chitarra
- Hindemith, Flute Sonata (1936), is a lovely, expressive work for flute with piano accompaniment. In a similar vein are his Oboe Sonata (1938), Bassoon Sonata (1938), Clarinet Sonata (1939), and Althorn Sonata (Alto Horn Sonata) (1943), each reflecting the featured instrument’s distinctive character.
Cuban cellist and singer Ana Carla Maza embodies self-worth as a musician. She is an excellent musician who knows it, feels it and shows it.
- “A Tomar Café” - single
- “Bahia” album: “a tribute to the Bahia neighbourhood where she lived during her early childhood”
- “La flor” album: “in search of absolute truth and intimacy, she shows her true colors without make-up or artifice”
- Her official channel on YouTube
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, bwv 1007: (1) Prelude
- Johann Sebastian Bach, Solo Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, bwv 1012: (2) Allemande
Film and Stage
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; is told from Chief Bromden’s perspective. It is a story about abuses and absurdities in mental institutions but the redemptive quality of this story is about a man no longer feeling, thinking or acting small.
- Dumbo, a story about fitting in
From the dark side:
· Edgar Lee Masters, “Harold Arnett”