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Wellness 911: Born This Way: Realizing Our Inherent Value : Emergency Medicine News


well-being in EM, self-acceptance, self-esteem


What makes people worthy? Is it the mastery of their career or the amount of charity work they do? Is it the number of extra shifts they take or agree to sit on all the committees? These can bring value to the world, but our value as humans does not come from our accomplishments, the work we do, or even the good we bring to society. Our value as human beings is inherent.

To find proof of this, just enter the hospital’s newborn nursery. Which baby is worthy? They all have the same value, although none have done anything particularly useful yet. Each of us came into the world with immeasurable worth.

What if every human being could look in the mirror and understand their true worth? How different would the world be? Everyone is worthy of love and belonging, and that value has nothing to do with what we’ve achieved or what we do – our relative value units, our Press Ganey scores, our cars, or our accounts. banking. Many of us develop our concept of self-esteem from our parents, who may have had the misunderstanding that dignity has prerequisites.

The APA Psychology Dictionary says that value conditions are “the state in which an individual considers love and respect to be conditional on gaining the approval of others. This belief stems from the child’s sense of being worthy of love based on parental approval: as the individual matures, he or she may continue to feel worthy of affection and respect only when it expresses desirable behaviors. (American Psychological Association. There is no solvency requirement. The truth about our value as people is that we all deserve to be alive, cared for, and loved. We deserve to take our place in this world right now.

Unconditional self-love

What is the difference between worth and self-esteem? Self-esteem includes self-confidence, personal and social acceptance, and respect for others. It is different from value because it is changeable and affected by external circumstances. Many of us tie our worth to our accomplishments, possessions, stature, or rank. We may mistakenly seek dignity in the number of views, likes and shares we receive on social media. These markers actually affect our self-esteem, not our worth.

The Mayo Clinic defines self-esteem as “your overall opinion of yourself.” (July 14, 2020; Having good self-esteem leads us to realize that our innate worth is not tied to our accomplishments and that we can accept our flaws without shame.

We can see ourselves in a balanced and precise way. Becoming a doctor, feeling secure in our relationships, and completing a residency program or a fellowship can all raise self-esteem, but they do not determine dignity. Cognitive neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, PhD, put it another way: “There is nothing more empowering than discovering your unconditional value and allowing it to change your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It strengthens us from within. It helps us to realize successes as inherent and failures as opportunities.


How do you begin to cultivate a healthy understanding of inherent value? Licensed Clinical Psychologist Adia Gooden, PhD, offers some simple steps:

  • Start by forgiving yourself. Making space for grace starts from within. Acknowledge and accept the things that happened and focus on what you learned. Use this wisdom to move forward without blame or shame.
  • Practice self-acceptance. You don’t need to change anything to be acceptable despite company messages to the contrary. You can decide to love everything about you, even your quirks, and use that self-love to move forward on your journey of personal development and growth.
  • be there for you. Acknowledge when you are having difficulty and remind yourself that all is well. Practice grace and reassurance rather than self-criticism. It helps to remember that mistakes are learning opportunities and do not affect innate value.
  • Connect with supportive people. Allow them to talk about the good things in your life and remind you of your value as a human being. Avoid isolating yourself, as this only reinforces thoughts of unworthiness due to loneliness or feelings of being left out. It helps to remember that you are not alone in your struggles.

Learning to separate inherent dignity from conditional self-esteem is ultimately essential to well-being. Accepting, forgiving, and seeing ourselves as worthy are all fundamental to our abilities to accept, forgive, and love others. Research professor and lecturer Brené Brown, PhD, said, “If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.” We can better help others – our children, our partners, and even our patients – to take ownership of their worth by learning to take ownership of our own.

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Clockwise from top left:Drs. Cazier, Dinsmore, andMorissonare board-certified emergency physicians and life, wellness and mindset coaches. Together they own The Whole Physician, a company dedicated to the well-being of doctors ( Their podcast, Drive Time Debrief with The Whole Physician, is available on all podcast apps. Follow them on Facebook (, instagram@thewholephysician, LinkedIn (, and Twitter@WholePhysician. Read their previous columns on