The difference between low self worth driven certification pursuit + 'course hopping' and genuine desire for self-improvement

Within my coaching practice, I’ve have been working with clients who were struggling with the pervasive impostor syndrome – which is often rooted in low self worth. These clients exhibited a relentless urge to complete one certification, course, or degree program after another, a phenomenon my mentor humorously dubbed “obsessive compulsive course hoppers.” However, this urge was frequently fueled by a profound sense of inadequacy, a sentiment we uncovered as we delved into their subconscious patterns during our coaching sessions.

For these individuals, each new degree or certificate represented an attempt to compensate for the persistent feeling of not being worthy or knowledgeable enough. It was as if they were in a perpetual quest to become more of an “expert” (some of my clients had even accumulated significant credit card debt for this reason!). Ironically, even after obtaining another accolade, they continued to grapple with feelings of insufficiency, leading them to enrol in yet another program or course, convinced that it would finally fill the void and make them feel “enough”. 

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Strengthening self-worth is an internal process that requires reprogramming of subconscious limiting beliefs about ourselves and improving our self-image. It involves addressing and healing emotions of shame, guilt, and emotional wounds stemming from painful experiences that have eroded our self-worth—such as being cheated in a relationship, abandonment, or perceived professional “failures”.

Therefor, designer bags, degrees, certificates, or other material possessions and achievements can only offer a temporary boost to our self-esteem and give us some external validation. These may momentarily provide us with a sense of self pride, but they cannot genuinely instil a lasting feeling of self-worth. When the initial euphoria fades, the void returns, leading to the “urge” to acquire yet another bag, dress, certificate, or degree.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with pursuing multiple degrees, certifications, coaching programs, and desire for continuous learning—provided it stems from a place of genuine passion for the subject, a sincere interest in and curiosity about the topic, and a true need for a particular program for improvement or transformation of certain area of our life or our mindset, mastery of a certain skill, or desire to grow, unlock our hidden potential, and /or scale a business/ advance in a career.

The key is in self-discernment and becoming aware of our unconscious programming and behavioural patterns. It’s essential to ask ourselves whether the impulse to enrol in “just one more” program is a subconscious quest for external validation stemming from feelings of low self-worth, or if it genuinely arises from a desire for self-improvement or the pursuit of a specific change, transformation, or goal. The former is characterised by the persistent belief that we are not “enough,” while the latter is driven by a sincere aspiration to evolve, enhance existing skills, and embark on a journey of self-discovery and mastery.

This topic delves far beyond the mere surface conversation about the underlying motivations for obtaining another certificate. It unravels the intricate dynamics of motivation, where the impetus to pursue a goal can be covertly shaped by our subconscious urges and deeply ingrained programming. This phenomenon, extensively studied in the fields of psychology and behaviuoral science, is labeled as ‘unconscious goal pursuit.’

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Whether it’s the decision to enrol in yet another certification program or make a significant purchase, the question is do we really want that to be an ‘unconscious goal pursuit‘ or a conscious decision, aligned with our genuine desires, values, aspirations, and bank account? 

If you want to strengthen your self worth, these free resources below can help you:

Click here to sign up for the free masterclass ‘Self Love Revolution – Mastering Self Worth For Women’.

Click here to download my book ‘Self Worth – Women’s Guide To Increasing Self Worth, Self Respect, and Self Confidence’ for FREE.