In what ways do you find value? How do you measure self-worth?
These are the questions my new therapist asked me. I had just finished explaining how I felt like I lost the five fundamental things in my life; belief system, relationship, work, friends/family and myself. I thought it was an interesting question, one I hadn’t really thought about before. I told her that I feel valued when my friends rely on me, when I make my parents proud, when I surpass an expectation at work, when my partner tells me they love me… My therapist was quick to point out that none of these examples demonstrate self-worth. I was finding value in external sources alone. I didn’t place any value on myself without the validation from others/events.
“As far as I can think back, there is so much truth to this. Most, if not all of what I do, revolves around not disappointing people, but impressing them. And when they value me, or at least I perceive that they value me, I keep going. I literally can’t think of a time where I wasn’t trying to prove myself, in one way or another, to another person. I feel like I am no longer of value to my work (hence not getting the job), my relationship (hence her infidelity), my family and my friends (I’m sure I have disappointed them with all of this) and this is why I am lost.”
– journal entry Dec 2017
What a risky move – allowing external sources in my life determine my value. Essentially I was placing my mental and emotional health directly in their hands. Whether they wanted it or not, I was giving it to them. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel that I was good enough to place value on “just” me. But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize – the value that we place on ourselves is the only type of worth that we actually have control over. In that way, WE get to determine how these external factors influence our inner sense of value.
Society has this idea of what “success” should look like, our parents believe it, our friends believe it, and we believe it. We seek value and worth in “success”. We fall in to this trap and become so heavily influenced by what we’ve been taught, or conditioned to find value in, that we completely forget that we alone determine what’s of value to us. And our self-worth should always be first on that list. It’s not about the fancy car, the big house, the picket fence and seven children. It’s not about impressing your parents, graduating with honours, or choosing partners that your friends will approve of. It’s not about the size of your waist, the number of Twitter followers you have, or even whether or not your partner is unfaithful. It’s about you! It’s about creating something internally that allows you to see your value, to stand unapologetically in self-worth. This is the only way to achieve the success, the happiness that you desire. This creates a rock hard foundation that not even the worst of external circumstances can break.
The hardest part for me, was actually believing this. It took several therapy sessions for me to see things about myself that I love. I looked at my morals, attitudes, behaviour patterns, archetypes… I wrote positive affirmations in my journal over and over and over. I was trying to re-wire my brain, my mind, my heart to fall in love with myself, and after 30 years of living for others, this ended up being a pretty difficult process.
One day my therapist asked how I thought any of this related to my belief in a higher power. I believed God loved me, and valued me – but that “He” was external to me, as was everything else I allowed to shape my view of myself. My therapist challenged me on this. Is God external or internal? I figured out that this was the reason I wasn’t connecting with the whole concept of a religious God, because I viewed “Him” as external. My lightbulb started flashing when I proclaimed that I believe in Spirituality, in Energy, in the Universal Life Source. If that beautiful, Divine love and light is inside me then I am ABSOLUTELY of value. And I know that I am part of this infinite existence, and that it is internal.
“Spirituality is something deep inside me. And if its in me, and its all love then it would make sense that I’m all love, and all Divine. I’m a Divine being deserving of love. And before I look for that love from anyone/anywhere else, it needs to come directly from the source of the Divine, me”.
– journal entry Dec 2017
Total Game Changer!
At the end of the day, you are all you got. And you’re the only person who needs to approve of you. Impress yourself. Value yourself. Other people may not understand you. That’s their loss. Make yourself your priority. Be kind to yourself first. It’s not selfish. It’s a necessity, believe me. And its not easy. It’s an entirely different way for most of us to think and behave. I often find myself slipping back and seeking value in others – it has been so deeply ingrained. My therapist reminds me every so often that the journey for self-worth is ongoing, and if I continue to find value in myself I will get stronger, as will my spiritual presence. Today I know I am worthy, and I love myself fully and unconditionally because I am Divine. I know that I will be okay. And so will you. ✨❤️