Examining and Assessing Your Skills and Attitudes In Relation to Your LIfe Outcomes




Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.    9-17

ABSTRACT:  Our society does not provide a widely agreed-upon framework for seriously assessing one’s functioning and how one’s skills and attitudes relate to one’s life outcomes.  Financial/material success, popularity, academic success, and church membership are the only vague concepts regarding what it means to be living a “good life,” and these do not encourage any deeper look at oneself.  A framework for examining oneself and one’s resulting life is provided here.

KEY WORDS:  self-assessment, self-reflection, life evaluation

Since as human beings we can reflect on and think about ourselves, we can use this capacity to improve our lives at any point, but our society does not provide an agreed-upon framework for seriously assessing oneself and one’s life.  Financial/material success, popularity, academic success, and church membership are the only (vague) concepts regarding what it means to be living a “good life,” and these do not encourage any deeper look at oneself.  We have vague ideas of comparing ourselves to others in things such as yearly income and academic degrees earned, but we are not helped to go deeper.  Religion could help with this but usually limits its focus to moral/ethical compliance.

Any effort to structure an assessment of one’s life involves some concept of what a good life is, what a good person is, and what the most gratifying emotions are, whether those concepts are your own or ones that you have learned from others (parents, society, church, etc.).  Of course your answers to questions regarding yourself will only be as accurate and detailed as you choose to make them.  Each of us engages to some degree in fooling ourselves about ourselves (putting out of consciousness things about ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge), and in assessing your life, you must choose how honest to be.

If you wish to see more about the values on which this assessment is based, see the last few pages of this document, in which some of my own ideas about health, emotional health, goodness, and functioning are illustrated.

Mark each element of this life evaluation E (excellent), G (good), F (fair), or P (poor).  Consider how each element has contributed to or taken away from your life satisfaction and enjoyment before you rate it.  Take at least 30 seconds to ponder each item before answering.  (You may also write in “DC” for “don’t care” if you think an item is irrelevant to your conception of life and the skills necessary to have the life you want.)  A few items are stated in a negative direction relative to the principle involved, such as “Do I look for opportunities to take advantage of others when possible?”, and these should be answered in terms of the underlying positive principle.  An answer of “E” to this question would indicate that you never look for opportunities to take advantage of others, and an answer of “P” would indicate that you do this much of the time.

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers.  Your own assessment should guide you in deciding whether and how to make changes in your life.  For areas that you sense are important but confusing, you might ask someone else you trust about how they view you in that regard


___ How broad and accurate is my understanding of myself?

___ How deep is my awareness of myself (accurate awareness of all
of my
needs, thoughts, sensations, feelings, and motives, and the
status of
my body)?

 ___ How well am I able to tell what is true and what is not?  Am I
often in
the position of believing something and then finding that
it is not true?

 ___ How aware am I of when I tend to deny reality, distort the truth,
make things up?

 ___ Do I know what the truth is?

 ___ Do I tell the truth to myself?

 ___ Do I make knowing the truth and doing what is best for myself
important than my immediate pleasure?

 ___ Do I base my choices of behavior on all of the consequences
term and long-term) of my proposed actions and on the
effect they will
have on others?

 ___ Do I know enough to get what I want in life?


 ___ Do I have good self-esteem?  How do I really feel about myself?

 ___ Do I have a have a good relationship with myself (including
myself, respecting myself, accepting myself, and treating
myself well)?

 ___ Do I accept everything about myself?

 Feelings Toward Self

 ___ Do I feel love for myself?

 ___ Do I treat myself lovingly?

 ___ Do I respect myself?

 ___ Do I treat myself with respect at all times?

 ___ Do I enjoy being myself?

 ___ Do I enjoy being with myself?

 ___ Do I criticize and blame myself?

 ___ Do I have compassion toward myself?

 ___ Do I trust myself?

 How You Treat Yourself

 ___ Do I support myself (to the extent possible given my limitations
and the
limitations of the environment)?

 ___ Do I do what is truly best for myself at every moment, after
all of the long-term and short-term consequences of
each action,
including how others will react to each of my

 ___ Do I make opportunity every day to express thoughts and

 ___ Do I do nice things for myself every day?

 ___ Do I talk to myself every day, lovingly, intimately, and even

 ___ Am I responsible and trustworthy toward myself?

 ___ Do I comfort myself when I need it?

 ___ Do I take responsibility for myself, rather than depending on

 ___ Do I take responsibility for my emotional reactions to things,
instead of
blaming others?

 ___ Am I honest with myself?

 ___ Am I appropriately humble and realistic about myself?

 Managing Life

 ___ Do I meet my needs acceptably?

 ___ Do I know what is truly best for myself?

 ___ Do I take good care of myself and do good things for myself?

 ___ Do I define my own standards for how I want to be rather than
others tell me who I should be?

 ___ How comfortable am I with all of my emotions?

 ___ How well do I handle my emotions?

 ___ How well do I deal with frustration and disappointment?

 ___ Am I able to control my behavior appropriately?  Do I often do
things I
later regret?

 ___ Am I able to delay action and delay gratification, so that I can
have the
self-control necessary for achieving my goals?


 ___ Am I honest with others?

 ___ Do I use empathy to understand others?

 ___ How well do I understand others overall?

 ___ Do I have sufficient empathy to understand others in some

 ___ Do I treat others well at all times?

 ___ Do I always treat others with respect and courtesy?

 ___ Do I treat others as they would like to be treated?

 ___ Do I feel compassion and concern for others?

 ___ Do I treat others like basic equals at all times?

 ___ Do I basically accept others?

 ___ Do I treat others fairly at all times?

 ___ Do I tell the truth to others?

 ___ Do I keep my promises and do what I say I will do?

 ___ How well do I cooperate with others?

 ___ Do I insist that others give me basic respect?

 ___ Do I insist on being treated as being fundamentally the equal of

 ___ Do I cooperate effectively with others to get what I want,
causing harm to them?

 ___ Do I look for opportunities to take advantage of others when

 ___ Can I feel emotionally close to at least some people?

 ___ Do I seek cooperative solutions to conflicts, in which both
benefit, instead of simply trying to get my own way?

 ___ Do I alter toxic and punishing relationships in accord with how I
them to be, including giving up roles and relationships that
define me
unfairly as being inferior to others or as entitled to get
less than others?

 ___ Do I seek and enjoy new, more supportive, affirming, and
relationships as needed?

 ___ Do I have sufficient social skills to achieve my goals?

 ___ Do I express my needs effectively to others?

 ___ Am I appropriately assertive regarding my rights and needs?


 ___ Do I make free and productive use of all of my capabilities?

 ___ Am I taking care of myself and meeting my basic needs at least

___ Am I using all of my abilities to achieve my goals?

___ How effectively do I work toward my goals?

___ Do I have sufficient behavioral skills to get what I want in life?

___ Do I have sufficient emotional skills to get what I want in life?

___ Do I have some degree of pleasure and pleasant emotion in my
life (including feeling some amounts of happiness and hope)?

 ___ Do I have gratifying relationships with at least a few others?

 ___ Am I able to allow myself to feel deep contact pleasure and
therefore to
be able to be close to others? 

 ___ Do I do good things for myself every day?

 ___ Am I able to be myself fully and joyfully?

 ___ Have I reduced my internal conflict and emotional pain to a

 ___ Do I accept that a certain amount of stress, pain, and unpleasant
    emotions is acceptable and unavoidable in life?

 ___ Do I do all that I want to do to make myself, others, and life the
      way I want them to be, and then accept the results without
      further desire, distress, internal conflict, or stress?

 ___ Do I assert my worth and value in response to cultural and
      societal attitudes that act against equality and self-esteem?

 __ Have I found ways to use my gifts and uniqueness to contribute
      to the community?

___ Do I accept life as it is?

___ How satisfied am I with myself and my life?

___ Do I feel good about what I see as my purpose in life?

___ Do I find satisfying meaning in life? *

___ Do I feel fulfilled in my life?

___ Do I feel the contentment in my life that I want to feel?

 ___ Have I made peace with myself in regard to who I am and what
     my life is?

 ___ Have I attained emotional (and financial) autonomy sufficient for        supporting myself in doing what is best for myself?

 ___ Do I truly try to be a good person?

 *  “Meaning” may be defined as the combination of value, significance, and importance that one places on a construct that provides one the sense that something is as it “should be” in one’s life or in the reality around one.  It can be as individual as feeling that one is fulfilling one’s purpose in life or as distant as the human race acting as God wants it to, or simply that God places great value on the human race (or that all planets, stars, and other objects in the universe are awesomely acting according to the laws of physics).  Meaning is not synonymous with importance, value, or significance separately.  There is always an aspect to meaning of “should” or of how things “should” be or how we as human beings want them to be.  Meaning always implies that one is allied with meaningful constructs and will act to promote their furtherance, whether one does take such actions or not.  Meaning has implications for one’s own sense of value, in so far as one is allied with or participates appropriately in the meaningful construct.

Every system of ideas is organized to promote an outcome, in this case, having the life that you want.  The skills and attitudes in this self and life assessment, if cultivated, would move you toward being a person who is honest, responsible, loving, accepting, cooperative, fair, self-aware, self-confident, empathic, and compassionate, who has good self-control and can manage his or her emotions effectively, and who can stand alone when necessary in support of what is right.  They promote a way of being and an existence that has the greatest chance of maximizing happiness, fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction for individuals, maximizing equality among people, and minimizing conflict, hatred, and violence.  The system provides a comfortable context within which to live joyfully, serenely, effectively, with great satisfaction, and at peace with oneself, others, and life.  People who utilize the skills and attitudes highlighted here will be generally happy with themselves, others, and life, will be zestful in using their abilities in seeking goal attainment, and may even tend to be seen by others as wise.

This set of concepts promotes “good” or “positive” interactions among people, which are defined as interactions in which both parties feel comfortable and safe (as a result of understanding each other and feeling treated appropriately by the other person) and in which both parties are motivated to cooperate to achieve mutually agreeable goals.  These interactions succeed through understanding and cooperation and result in minimum amounts of conflict and violence between people.


As you can see from this description, the skills and attitudes in the assessment describe the traits and functioning of a “good person.”  In my opinion, a good person treats others appropriately, decently, and fairly at all times, even when there is some personal cost for doing so,

A good person wants good for all people, not just himself.

A good person believes in the possibility and desirability of a society

in which people are trustworthy and responsible and in which most people act morally and ethically in order to gain the rewards of such shared behavior,

A good person uses empathy to appreciate the pain of others when they suffer or are treated inappropriately and harmed.

A good person accepts that the welfare of others is as important to them as hers is to herself.

A good person carries out responsibilities without being directed to,

even when there is some cost to doing so.

A good person appreciates and takes seriously the complexity and difficulty of moral/ethical decisions and strives at all times to do right by others and himself.

A good person thinks that being a good person will result in better outcomes in life for herself in the long run.

An individual in the highest stage of moral/ethical development decides on moral/ethical behavior based on predicting accurately all the short-term and the long-term results and consequences of his behavior for everyone who would be affected, including those in future generations who could be harmed or benefited by his current behavior.  He uses rules, principles, cultural traditions, and the consultative advice of trusted others to arrive at decisions about what is the “most right” thing to do.  He uses his predictive powers regarding the consequences of his actions, an empathic understanding of the consequences of his behavior (the Golden Rule), a view of ethical behavior as having reciprocal influence (that how one treats others determines at least in part how they treat him), and the Kantian imperative (that before acting, one must consider if one would be satisfied with the results if everyone acted like one does oneself).


If they had the choice, most people would probably choose a way of living that would give them a “good life,” so that they could say that they had a good life and could also say toward the end of life that they had had a good life.  Every individual values a somewhat different array of objects, people, and ideals, but we can identify those that are desirable and common to all human beings, and these might then define a “good life” for human beings.  The assessment above incorporates these “good life” elements, but you may wish to rate the same issues again phrased as “good life” goals.

 ___   1-life maintenance and support (sufficient capacities and goal
  attainment to enable one to take care of oneself and those
  legitimately dependent on one, plus meeting one’s basic needs
least adequately)

___   2-having no more than a minimal or at least no more than a
level of physical pain and bodily damage recognizing
that some
amount of physical and emotional pain are normal
aspects of human
life and the human adaptation)  

___   3-having some pleasure and pleasant emotion in one’s life
feeling some amounts of happiness and hope, and
ultimately some
(for many people, small) amounts of
satisfaction, contentment, and
fulfillment), usually through–

___            3a-having a good relationship with and good feelings toward
oneself (which would include loving oneself, respecting
   oneself, accepting oneself, and treating oneself well, and
which in large measure arises from being loved,
and accepted by others in childhood and from
creating good
outcomes for oneself

___            3b-having minimal or at least a tolerable level of emotional
  and internal conflict (though recognizing that some
degree of
conflict and pain is inherent from time to time
in being

___            3c-feeling an adequate level of security

___            3d-having some positive, gratifying relationships

___  4-having some and to some degree gratifying relationships with
including most importantly, a secure place in one’s
family and basic
acceptance in one’s community


Do I cultivate these key skills for living?—

___ self-awareness

___ honesty    

___ figuring out the truth                               

___ responsibility

___ acceptance                                               

___ love                                                           

___ self-control                                                

___ dealing with emotions                             

___ autonomy

___ empathy                                                   

___ equality                                                    

___ cooperation                                              

___ fairness