This was a question the great psychotherapist and father of CBT Albert Ellis attempted to answer decades ago. In answering it, he acquired a critical insight. He had been exploring how best to assist patients increase their self esteem with conditions such as depression. This led him to analyse what the term meant , and therein his journey of discovery began. He realised that the issue was not how best to increase self-esteem , but rather the belief that it could be defined or measured at all. Ellis’s insight was that we are attempting to define and measure something that is non-existent. And we are making ourselves anxious , depressed and ashamed in the process.

Despite this insight , we continue to use words like self-worth and self-esteem as if they are definable or measurable concepts. If asked to define on paper the term’ self – worth’ , it should be a simple task .

Is it not obvious?

Is it not how we value ourselves as human beings , and therefore easy to measure and improve?

Let’s explore this concept further.


The rating exercise

This is a wonderful exercise to challenge our whole concept of self-rating . It is an exercise I regularly request that individual patients and large groups of people do. The results are astoundingly disparate . Let’s see how you do.

1- On a sheet of paper , draw a straight line. At one end of the line , write’1′ and at the other,’100′ . Now rate yourself as a human being between one and a hundred, with the former being useless and latter , fantastic .

2- Having marked in the score for your personal rating , now mark in where others would rate you.

3- Next, imagine you were recently diagnosed with depression and are on medication. With this information, where would you now rate yourself on the scale.

4-Then, mark in where you think others would rate you on hearing this news.

I will complete in article 3 soon.


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