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The Undervalued Self: Restore Your Love/Power Balance, Transform the Inner Voice That Holds You Back, and Find Your True Self-Worth

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Elaine Aron follows up her bestsellers on the highly sensitive person with a groundbreaking new book on the undervalued self. She explains that self-esteem results from having a healthy balance of love and power in our lives.

Readers will learn to incorporate love into situations that seem to require power and deal with power struggles that mask themselves as issues of love. From the bedroom to the boardroom, her strategies will enable us to escape feelings of shame, defeat, and depression; dissolve relationship hostility; and become our best selves.

With Aron's clear, empathetic writing and extraordinary scientific and human insight, The Undervalued Self is a simple and effective guide to developing healthy, fulfilling relationships, and finding true self-worth.

277 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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Elaine N. Aron

60 books728 followers

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5 stars
134 (36%)
4 stars
123 (33%)
3 stars
72 (19%)
2 stars
25 (6%)
1 star
10 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Shelie.
36 reviews13 followers
March 17, 2010
Everyone has a part of them that is undervalued so this can be a valuable book for anyone. However, if you are someone who suffers from low self esteem due to life circumstances or natural disposition, this book may be a great help to you. It is a cognitive behavioral approach that assists with some of the self talk that causes us to undervalue. I recommend it highly.
Profile Image for Mike.
20 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2022
I've told a number of people how I have learned how to love myself. That's it's an active love. Not love that is earned, but rather given. It was an important step for me. I had always been very hard on myself, and the title of this book strikes me as the perfect description for it - I undervalued myself. This book helped me see what I was doing, and helped me learn concrete steps to handle it. For the first time, I was able to stop trains of thought that in the past would have sent me spiraling into anxiety and depression (this is not an exaggeration). For the first time I could start facing fears in a more mentally-balanced manner. The negative thoughts still come, but I now know how to respond to them. It saddens me that I've had to work through these issues at all; that I never had anybody to help me with this earlier in life. But I can handle that sadness now, in large part because of what I learned in this book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
1,428 reviews51 followers
March 16, 2010
From my blog...[return]The Undervalued Self by Dr. Elaine N. Aron is written to help people realise everyone has an underlying self, that inner voice that proclaims one is not good enough or worthy and Dr. Aron's book sets out to help readers to identify the causes of the undervalued self and how to combat these causes. Dr. Aron has laid her book out in a very straight forward and easy to follow manner. She has broken the book down into nine chapters. The first two describe the undervalued self and what she refers to as ranking and linking and how these affect self-esteem in one's personal life. Linking would be good relationships one has whereas ranking refers to how one views oneself in the social hierarchy of life. Through numerous examples and self-evaluations, Aron helps the reader define one's undervalued self, the defensive mechanisms one employs and how to overcome them. Aron then delves into one's past and how one must look into the past to connect the dots to where one is today. Through a series of questions that lead to essays and deep thought, Aron helps the reader access, and hopefully heal from, any past traumas. Finally the book concludes with healthy linkings and then putting all the parts of the book together to create a whole. In short, The Undervalued Self by Dr, Aron is meant to help find one's true self-worth, quiet the inner voice of self-doubt, and focus not only on the conscious self, but the unconscious self.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,369 reviews63 followers
November 16, 2021
Someone told me how much this book had changed their life, so naturally I had to read it! I don't know if it necessarily changed my life, but it was overall a good book and I can see how helpful this would be to anyone struggling with the kind of issues detailed in here.

I thought the author did a good job of breaking down the main issues that cause people to undervalue themselves, complete with explanations of ranking and linking and how these differ and impact various relationships. In short, the way we interact with others often inspires ranking, thoughts of comparison and how we fall short, whereas linking is trying to find commonalities so relationships can grow stronger and make you feel better about yourself because there is no comparison. There were some good suggestions for how to improve your linking skills in order to better handle situations where you interact with someone and typically are left to feel lesser than you'd like.

The other part I found especially interesting in here was when the author detailed self-protection strategies people either knowingly or unknowingly use to minimize their discomfort or hurt, such as minimizing, and how to respond to these defense mechanisms or overcome them. Some of these strategies are ones I've heard before but hadn't recognized them as a self-protection strategy someone else was employing. There are also some good suggestions for how to respond when you notice someone is employing these strategies, which was helpful too.

Certainly there are a lot of good points and suggestions in here for those looking to improve and willing to acknowledge uncomfortable automatic responses they have and take tangible steps to improve their responses, hopefully changing the way they think in the process.
Profile Image for Janet.
2,024 reviews19 followers
March 15, 2010
What an odd book. I picked it up because I value the author's previous groundbreaking work, "The Highly Sensitive Person," (and "HSP in Love") in which she explores a minority of the population (like me) who are prone to deep reflection and feelings of being overwhelmed by the world. Because she understands these special characteristics, which tend to be misunderstood as shyness and dismissed as signs of weakness in our highly competitive society, I thought for sure she'd have something groundbreaking to say here. And maybe she does, but I find her continual use of the terms "ranking" and "linking" so clinical it really detracts from her advise on how to free ourselves from constraints that limit our potential.
Later upped my review to 3 stars--something I read about "attunement" stayed with me and I went back to this book and ended up discovering not only something more for myself, but also something to help me better understand a very important person in my life. I think the author is actually on to something good here in looking at love and power.
Profile Image for Kevin Orth.
393 reviews41 followers
July 31, 2016
I am a huge fan of Dr. Aron having been introduced to her by her ground breaking work studying and understanding highly sensitive persons.

As with other books by Dr. Aron, this is full of practical, applicable, engaging information that is directly and immediately applicable to daily life. Also in her usual fashion, she includes exercises and work for the reader to take a deeper dive into their own experience of the material and make a deeper connection to the deep meaning, true value, and directly applicable meaning of the material.

This book speaks to a broader audience than HSPs, discussing how we all experience ranking and linking and the value of be cognizant of this as well as the value of moving away from a ranking centric view of ourselves in relation to others and toward a linking perspective. Again, we call - HSP and not - experience this in every relationship. There is specific council on addressing the ranking/linking dynamic in primary relationships anyone and everyone would be well served having a deeper appreciation.
Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Sandy.
346 reviews
July 15, 2012
This compelling and simple read of a complex problem makes me want to read Aron's other book entitled, The Highly Sensitive Person. Although, Aron doesn't indicate she is a Jungian, she follows his theory to a T: she calls the inner child, the Innocent; she calls the negative aspects of the archetypes the Protector/Persecutor (btw, Kalshed labeled it the same way); and she describes the awareness and attentiveness to the unconscious as being requisite for a valued self. Very practical, clear and a good layman's read to better approach that which holds us back from living our own precious, authentic lives.
Profile Image for Zoie.
176 reviews4 followers
February 14, 2014
I have to admit that I mostly skimmed this book.

The writing was alright, and the book included a lot of interesting ideas, but it was really wordy.

I did, however, really enjoy the chapter about the "six self-protections." Useful information, for sure.

Overall, it was alright. I wouldn't recommend it to people, but it got it thinking about confidence and the things we do that hold us back in order to fit in or impress others.

Profile Image for Wendy Reiersen.
70 reviews37 followers
Currently reading
September 6, 2010
This book is about linking and ranking. We need to connect with others and be accepted. We do also need to be aware of our place in the pecking order. Usually, we need more linking, and linking generally feels better. Seeking for linking and getting ranking instead doesn't feel good. So far (I've read the first chapter), this book explains a lot, and has the potential to be empowering.
Profile Image for *Closed*.
26 reviews
October 15, 2016
Should return to this one. "Undervalued Self" makes it sound as though one ought to read this book finding oneself in a poor situation mentally and socially- nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone would benefit from this gem. You will see your fellow humans in a new light reading it. A tad self- help'y, but look past that, because wealth of available insight is not to be missed.
Profile Image for Megan.
236 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2018
This book was a big life changer for me. If you’ve ever struggled with perceptions of your relationship and struggled to make “links” it could be stemming from an undervalued self. Understanding that our perception of a relationship as a “ranking” when it should be a “linking” as well as how to change that has transformed how I view many of the relationships in my life. Excellent information.
4 reviews
October 25, 2018
Loved this book. Especially Elaines thoughts about competing with people vs making a connection with people where eye-opening to me. Just reading the book made me feel more 'connected' and less fearful. I will definitely read this book again.
Profile Image for Kaydee Carr.
8 reviews
April 28, 2019
I could not put this one down. Concepts were fascinating and immediately relevant to my life. Really helped me think about my own experiences, view of myself, and relationships with others in a new and healthier way.
Profile Image for Louise Mathewson.
Author 7 books7 followers
June 5, 2019
Very valuable book!! It was hard to read for me because it challenged my thinking side. I found the concepts of linking and ranking very, very helpful. It has challenged me to think about linking with people instead of undervaluing myself and withdrawing!
Profile Image for Zi Ying.
20 reviews5 followers
May 2, 2015
This could potentially be my personal bible.
Profile Image for Michaela.
157 reviews5 followers
September 18, 2019
I found this book helpful, especially for HSPs and those of us who shy away from power and confrontation.
13 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2017
I honestly really enjoyed this book. I love Aron's other book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and while that book was really for HSPs and those living and loving with HSPs, this book is an everyone book. Everyone has an undervalued self and I think this book is helpful in being more self aware.
The only thing I would say was that there were some concepts that could have fleshed out further. There were a lot of new, non-common ideas introduced at what seems like all at once.
Nonetheless, an incredibly honest and helpful book.
Profile Image for Jules.
92 reviews62 followers
March 18, 2020
This is a good book. The writing is in the same vein as Brené Brown, Ester Perell & Gabor Maté. The author does a good job describing our 'inner voice'. A large theme in the book explores how we respond to ranking and defeats in life. The author looks at some common 'self-protection' in ranking and some helpful ‘linking’ strategies people can use. There is a great section exploring the roles of the Inner Critic,
3 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2023
Must read

This book is essential for anyone who wants to have healthier relationships with self and others through healing the historical trauma and temperamental characteristics that lead to unhealthy power over interactions with others. The information and practices are helpful and wise in their ability to address unhealthy ranking and lead towards better linking and then stronger interpersonal connections.
Profile Image for MaryKay.
260 reviews87 followers
July 13, 2021
Favorite Quotes:

p27 "Most groups include a mixture of altruists and selfish types. So the group in which altruists can control the freeloaders and the selfish high-rankers will have the best chance of survival. For millions of years, the majority of people have been trying to control the few selfish individuals in their midst in order to elevate the welfare of all.
119 reviews
January 12, 2021
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first half more than the second. However as someone who struggles with her self value I found this book helpful. There are concepts I’m already implementing. I think this could potentially be a good read for anyone.
18 reviews3 followers
August 13, 2017
Spectacular work. Primary ideas are spot on; the supporting material is very useful, too.
Profile Image for Marita Hansen.
Author 1 book31 followers
February 19, 2018
Absolutt en god og lærerik bok, om enn avogtil litt i overkant selvgod (typ amerikansk)
Profile Image for Jennifer James.
137 reviews3 followers
November 25, 2020
The information on the differences between linking and ranking were especially helpful in this book. I'd never looked at relationships in that manner before, and found it quite illuminating.
Profile Image for B..
174 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2022
Really enjoyed the ranking and linking descriptions. It does seem repetitive, though, with all the examples given.
Profile Image for Anna.
476 reviews25 followers
August 30, 2022
A book I probably would have liked as a teenager. I don't think I'm the exact audience, it was not resonating with me. I didn't finish this.
Profile Image for MizzSandie.
336 reviews343 followers
May 14, 2016
What a major disappointment this was.

I've been introduced to Elaine Aron through her work and explaining on the Highly Sensitive Trait which to me was a major discovery and understanding of this side of myself and others I know, and how and why we are different and sometimes struggle in a world that does not recognize or value this trait.
This book was not about High Sensitivity but on the undervaluing of ourselves that so many of us do and that makes us suffer, and I had expected Aron to also have some enlightening things to say on this issue, to bring me a step closer in the healing process of this Self, but unfortunately she did neither (even if she promises to do both, especially the latter).
Hence my disappointment.

The 'ranking' and 'linking' terms that she used throughout the book further annoyed me. Firstly, the terms were so clinical and void of emotion, and secondly they were used in a much too oversimplifying manner, as if they could explain all matters concerning love, power, internal and inter relational issues.
It's such a common fallacy for researches and theorists to use a favored theory to try to explain away much more than the theory warrants, thereby doing the theory ( that might have some merit or interesting points) a disservice. Because, unfortunately researchers, the world and all the things in it, including humans is much much more complex than that.
So dear researchers, when you think you've found the holy grail, THE Explanation or THE Method that explains and heals all, take heed dear researchers and stay humble and realize that this is just one of many ways to view and explain a certain issues.
And don't promise your books Theory or Method to be THE cure, because when it comes to healing one size does not fit all, due to the aforementioned complexibility and multifactoredness and inter relations that goes into humans and human life.
That does not mean that your Theory or Method doesn't have relevance or couldn't help some people do some healing.
So, just chill with the God complex alright.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews

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