Monitor your relationships to protect your self-worth.

by teresalaynebennett

painting of Napoleon Bonaparte on horse

Napoleon, The Arrogant, (aka, Bonaparte)

FYI: though a little like Magic Bullet #4 about relationships, this post takes off in a slightly different direction.

Lots of words have been written about the topic of self-worth. Here’s the deal: as I said when I began this blog, I’m not a psychiatrist, and I’m not a psychologist. I don’t even have an M.A. in counseling. Lacking all those credentials, this blog post will, of necessity, be short and to the point. (No intellectual crowbars needed.) I’m simply telling you what I’ve observed from 65-plus years of living among people.

Here’s more good news. If you’re reasonably well-adjusted, it isn’t as complicated as some would claim. In fact, it’s actually corner-of-the-eye stuff – stuff way out on those outer edges that you know and don’t realize you know.

The Point, in a Nutshell

Here’s the gist of my admittedly amateurish observations.

  • People who think too little of themselves (despite all their bravado and self-assertiveness), come across as arrogant – routinely belittling and tearing others down.
  • People who think too highly of themselves also come across as arrogant – routinely belittling and tearing others down.

Ironic, isn’t it? Two different problems, two very different reasons, resulting in the same Napoleonic behavior. Some mental health professionals might argue that almost all people who habitually tear down others really fit into the first group and that only a few, e.g., narcissists, can accurately fit into the second group.


I say we maintain good emotional health by observing emotionally healthy people – not the sick ones. The people I’ve known who are able to laud and acknowledge others and their accomplishments have a humble but healthy view of themselves and their own accomplishments. In fact, I think they’re able to appreciate others and others’ accomplishments precisely because they’re able to appreciate themselves and their own accomplishments.

So what’s
the pay-attention lesson here?
Hanging with
emotionally healthy people
helps you develop
your own healthy self-worth.

When you monitor your relationships, you’ll find you have some friends or family members who routinely tear you down. Regardless of how deftly they do it or how cleverly they disguise it, sit up and pay attention. If you know them well enough, you might be able to determine into which group they belong, but then what?

Trust me, I’ve spent hours trying to figure out why certain people in my life just could not give me credit for blowing my nose. Not until I was well into my fifties did it occur to me that this was not time well spent. That’s because even when I could pin down the most likely cause for their tearing-down tendencies, I couldn’t do much about it.

Regardless of the cause, this behavior is a character flaw that only the individual herself can work on. And have you noticed when we have in-your-face character flaws we don’t, as a rule, go ’round asking for help with our character flaws? Offering help when none is requested is usually a waste of perfectly good information, not to mention emotional energy. Those who will not help themselves cannot be helped by others. I’ve learned this little tidbit the hard way, too.

Besides, as I’ll keep saying, I’m not a trained mental health counselor. Even if a friend were to ask for help with an out-sized character flaw, I’m not sure I could be terribly helpful or effective. Unless you’re a trained mental health counselor, you probably can’t either. Just recognize you’re out of your depth and guide people like this to someone who can help them. Meanwhile, studiously avoid them whenever possible.*

Yikes. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Some of life’s realities are harsh. How about this one? People who routinely tear you down are NOT your friends. So pay attention to your relationships: determine which people you should avoid and which people you should keep in your life – the ones who will make up the central core of your life. Choose those humble, yet emotionally healthy, people who can laud themselves and others. You’ll learn a ton about how to like yourself and others just from hanging with them. And guess what? It’s a process. (See Process Three.)

* Have you also noticed that most of us keep hanging in there with the tear-downers way longer than we should? Give it up. Let the pros handle the carpers and harpers in your life. That responsibility is most likely waaay above your pay grade. It’s for sure above mine.

© 2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: “He who is humble is confident and wise. He who brags is insecure and lacking.” –Lisa Edmonson

Arrogance produces bragging and belittling.