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on July 18, 2010
Undervaluing yourself can lead to a self-fulfilling spiral of declining opportunities out of lack of confidence -- and thereby missing out on opportunities that might have been beneficial and missing a chance to build confidence. If you relate to this scenario, The Undervalued Self will likely be an eye-opener and lead you on path to healing if you're willing to work through the helpful exercises.

Important note for fans of Aron's other books: The Undervalued Self does not specifically focus on Highly Sensitive People, though there is a connection that Aron saw in many of her patients. As discussed on pages 92-93, being highly sensitive could increase the risk of having an undervalued self on two fronts. On the innate tendencies side, 1) highly sensitive people are more easily overstimulated so may not do as well in high-pressure situations as they expect of themselves, and 2) they tend to be conscientious and aware of consequences so pay extra attention to their mistakes. On the personal history side, 1) as members of a numerical minority, they may be criticized for being "too sensitive," and 2) they may be more affected than others by the same childhood trauma.

Even if you don't undervalue yourself, you probably interact with people who do. In Chapters 4 and 7, Aron shares tips for effective communication (with some similarities to techniques such as non-violent communication), with a focus on challenging the reader to respond honestly instead of with self-protective behaviors, and helping others do the same. Aron even provides specific conversation-starter questions and several compelling dialogues that illustrate how to connect with someone who is using self-protective behaviors. For example, Aron suggests, if you say to a colleague, "Congratulations on your award," and your colleague replies, "They had to give it to somebody," you might help the person acknowledge his or her pride in the achievement by saying, "Don't worry, I won't think you're uppity for having a little pride - you really deserve this recognition. I'd certainly be bursting with pride."

A few bonus features: The discussion of dreams in Chapter 6 on dealing with the Inner Critic will be useful for those wondering why they are having so many bad dreams, and the appendix on How to Find a Good Therapist has valuable insights from affording sessions to how to choose among several therapists.
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In A Nutshell: After reading it, I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. The Undervalued Self is a great resource that I will continue to return to for many years, in fact, a lot of the pages have been tagged for future reference.

I especially like the active imagination sessions and connecting the past to the cause. If we can retrace our past life experiences we can connect the dots on the present way we think about ourselves.

In chapter five (my absolute favorite chapter, one I wish I could recreate here word for word) is called Linking with the Innocent. Who is the Innocent? Well, my friend that is YOU! You know, the you before now, before the learned behaviors, attitudes and way of thinking that have brought you to your lowest moments.

Dr. Aron pieces it all together in the most effective way.

This book WILL help you.
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on March 16, 2010
Elaine N. Aron, PhD's book the undervalued self is filled with interesting journaling tests, personal experience stories and the pros and cons of how and why, the undervalued self, manipulates needs and desires to protect the inner child.

I especially felt drawn to the personal stories. I could see myself so easily acting in the same way in order to gain some sort of power or recognition from family and friends. Until I read Dr. Elaine N. Aron's book, I did not realize that striving to remain passive or trying to overachieve can result in what I do not want to see happen in my life. It's like working for a golden star. Then receiving not a golden star instead I receive a bulky round ball of twine. Of course, my disappointment is going to sky rocket. Still, the ball of twine is always mine simply because I do not know how to develop an authentic self value.

This book is fascinating. I feel as though reading it more than one time will only make my new self stronger and more able to face future situations involving who I am ,undervalued or valued.
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on January 4, 2013
I feel like hell frozen over every holiday season pretty muchly so I was searching for something to explain that beyond Vitamin D, colds, flu, my ENTP ways of thinking, etc....

The book is written very straightforward and plainly and it seems very thorough for starters.

I probably don't have enough words to say how SATISFYING this book is. I've had a fair amount of therapy and read a fair amount in the field of psychology. This book takes me to a nice place of simplicity, understanding, feeling good about myself even, possibilities for a better way of existing, a muchly improved internal landscape maybe.... I'm rethinking things and doing the workbook exercises and taking notes and it all seems worthwhile.

The author says it took her ten years to produce the book and I believe it. It is a finished product, and in books, maybe those are not as common as we would like.
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on February 8, 2013
I used to feel guilty for being depressed when nothing really bad happened to me, but the trauma charts in this book showed me that bad things *did* happen to me, and that they were bad *for me* is what mattered--not whether the same things would have been bad for anyone else.
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on February 23, 2011
As a coach and mediator for HSP's I highly recommend this book to most of my clients. Such a pity that it is not translated into Spanish, as I work with people in Spain and South America. Many hsp's suffer from a low self esteem. One of the causes being that they never stop and think about themselves, about who they are and what their needs are. It is not uncommon amongst HSP's to become lost in 'the other' or 'the environment'. As an HSP it is so essential to learn how to set your own personal limits. This book of Elaine's is a big help. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on April 12, 2013
I just finished a linking session with my Innocent, and once again thought that it is not possible to thank Elaine Aron too much for this book. In my opinion it is the best and most complete self help book that has been written. But it is not easy. This book is not about nice and easy encouragement that withers away in a couple of months. Reading this book and doing the exercises suggested in it means work. But it is the kind of work that pays off.

As one of the reviewers already said the chapter "Linking with the Innocent" is a gem. The most frightening concept is, of course, the Protector-Persecutor. I have met mine face to face, and noticed that it is possible to resist his demands.

(All this may sound a little weird for those having not read the book, but the Innocent and the Protector-Persecutor are just concepts having to do with the different sides of our psyche.)

It is possible to do all the exercises by yourself but a therapist or maybe a good friend is good to have for support and encouragement.

I have added this book to the list of about 15 books that have had a life-changing effect for me. I have also recommended it to a friend and was happy to hear that he is reading it and finding it highly beneficial. And he had not even reached the chapter about the Innocent yet. :)

For me one of the most helpful suggestions made by the author was: If you start reading this book and then get tired with it, put it away, forget it or misplace it, ask yourself why. That is how I found out I was dealing with the Protector-Persecutor.
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on January 1, 2015
Best self-help book ever. If you don't have money or insurance coverage for therapy, this is a good substitute. (The exercises MUST be done, however, and they take a lot of time. But it is WORTH it.

For the record, the author laments that the lack of popularity of this book dismays and stuns her. I can see why. This book is a challenge, and actually works, but is HARD to put into use. Again, it's worth it and I have recommended it to others.
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on September 6, 2012
All my life I have been told " you can do better than that". I never made the connection to my HSP status and the limitations I've imposed on myself. THis book validates and liberates at the same time!
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on October 25, 2012
By using the terms ranking and linking instead of power and love, the author was able to avoid spending a large amount of energy defining and unpacking the loaded terms of power and love. Ranking evokes the image of one having power/influence over another while linking represents the feeling of interest, concern and warmth for another. The first exercise in this book is to make two lists of people you know, one with whom you feel good and another not so much. The first identifies those you feel linked with while the other those you are in ranking relationship with. The author uses this theme of ranking and linking as a thread throughout the book weaving it through important areas of self understanding: Attachment theory (those with the avoidant style habitually rank), defense mechanisms (minimizing, blaming, inflating, projecting, overachieving, noncompeting), the vicissitudes of trauma with their triggers and dreams ("Although nightmares are disturbing, they are meant to help you by restoring the link between emotions and consciousness"). The second half of the book teaches ways that can be used to heal the innocent and wounded parts of ourselves (ie: the self that became undervalued due to excessive ranking). "Where ranking was, let linking be." It gives specific examples on how to dialogue with them in an exercise called Active Imagination where you imagine a theatre stage where one by one each of your younger selves say what needs to be said while you honour and form a link with them. The issue of ranking in the service of linking and vice versa along with their interplay is also covered while an interpretation of Rapunzel is included to illustrate these inner forces. A very fine self help book and to paraphrase Jimi Hendrix, "When the power of love (linking) overcomes the love of power (ranking), I will know inner peace."
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