Live, Breathe and Know Your Self Worth

Live, Breathe and Know Your Self Worth

Happy New Year!

In wishing me a Happy New Year, someone very special asked:

‘What do you want to happen this year?’

Without thinking, I blurted, ‘Everyone special in my life to live, breathe and know their worth…’

Whilst I help someone close to me deal with debilitating depression, I have come to learn and understand how two vital words can impact one’s life.

 

SELF WORTH.

 

It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others.                                       –Sidney J. Harris

 

Self-worth is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

“a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect”.

Dr. Christina Hibbert explains:

“Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing ‘I am greater than all of those things.’ It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.” (2013).

Sadly, many people compare themselves to others and measure their self worth in ways that can be destructive.

  1. Career: People often judge others by what they do
  2. Net worth: Income, material possessions etc.
  3. Achievements: Use achievements to determine someone’s worth
  4. Social circles: The influential people they know
  5. Appearance: Attention received by others, body image, clothing size

Stephanie Jade Wong believes: “Self Worth is how you value yourself. It’s not based on what others think of you or the things you have (or haven’t) accomplished—it comes from within. But it’s easy to forget that our worth isn’t determined by outside forces.”

Wong prefers to look at what does not determine your self worth and the list includes:

  • Your to-do list: Achieving goals is great and it feels wonderful to cross off things on your to-do list, but it doesn’t have a direct relationship with your worth as a human;
  • Your job: It doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that you do it well and that it fulfils you;
  • Your social media following: It also doesn’t matter how many people think you are worthy of a follow or a retweet. It can be enlightening and healthy to consider the perspectives of others, but their opinions have no impact on our innate value;
  • Your age: You aren’t too young or too old for anything. Your age is simply a number and does not factor into your value as a human being;
  • Other people: As noted above, it doesn’t matter what other people think or what other people have done or accomplished. Your personal satisfaction and fulfillment are much more important than what others are thinking, saying, or doing;
  • How far you can run: Your mile run time is one of the least important factors for your self-worth (or for anything else, for that matter). If you enjoy running and feel fulfilled by improving your time, good for you! If not, good for you! Your ability to run does not determine your self-worth;
  • Your grades: We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and some of us are simply not cut out for class. This has no bearing on our value as people, and a straight-A student is just as valuable and worthy as a straight-F student or a dropout;
  • The number of friends you have: Your value as a human has absolutely nothing to do with how many friends or connections you have. The quality of your relationships is what’s really important;
  • Your relationship status: Whether flying solo, casually dating, or in a committed relationship, your value is exactly the same—your relationship status doesn’t alter your worth;
  • The money (or lack thereof) in the bank: If you have enough money to physically survive (which can, in fact, be $0), then you have already achieved the maximal amount of “worth” you can get from money (hint: it’s 0!);
  • Your likes: It doesn’t matter if you have “good taste” or not, if your friends and acquaintances think you’re sophisticated, or if you have an eye for the finer things. Your worth is the same either way.
  • Anything or anyone but yourself: Here we get to the heart of the matter—you are the only one who determines your self-worth. If you believe you are worthy and valuable, you are worthy and valuable. Even if you don’t believe you are worthy and valuable, guess what—you still are worthy and valuable!

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the above and to measure your worth against what others think and the possessions you value. Using a camera, zoom out and think about what truly matters when determining your and other people’s worth: kindness, compassion, empathy, respect for others, and especially how well you treat those around you.

Work on taming your inner critic by being aware of your thoughts and emotions; acting only in “Wise Mind” (Linehan – 1993 – is the balanced part of us that comprises our inner knowledge and intuition, where our emotional thinking mind, thoughts driven by distressing feelings, and rational thinking mind come together, the part of us that just “knows” that true reality.); embrace your suffering, radically accept things that are out of your control and fight less etc.

 

“The Real Reason Your Self Worth is Low – and How to Fix It” discovered on Harley Therapy is an excellent read. I include an excerpt below that outlines where low self-worth stems from:

Low self-worth stems from unresolved past experiences and emotions. 

Instead of a thought, it’s a belief. Those past experiences led to negative beliefs about the world.

And if there was one emotion that drives low self-worth, it is shame. We feel ashamed of who we are and what we experienced.

 The real triggers for low self worth

The experiences that lead to having no self-esteem are:

CHILDHOOD ABUSE.

One of the most common reasons for low self worth is experiencing physical or sexual abuse as a child. In an attempt to understand what is happening, a child blames him or herself.

OTHER CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.

This can look like a parent or sibling dying, a parent leaving suddenly, losing your home, being bullied, or anything that deeply affected your sense of self and sense of safety.

ACE’S.

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are a psychological term for very difficult things children live through that might not always qualify as ‘trauma’. This can include things like neglect, growing up in poverty, an alcoholic or sick parent, one parent being violent to the other, a family member going to jail, and your parents divorcing.

POOR PARENTING.

Blaming all our misery on our parents is not the best tactic. Often parents did the best they can, but didn’t have the right information.

But it is true that poor parenting— frequent punishments and criticism, harsh standards, not being shown enough affection — is connected to low self-esteem.

The Joesph Rowntree Foundation, in a report on low self-esteem, states that, “the strongest influences upon self-esteem are the individual’s parents. Parenting style, physical and particularly sexual abuse play a significant role.”

POOR ATTACHMENT.

Attachment theory believe that in order to grow up to be an adult who can have healthy, trusting relationships, you need a caregiver in your early years who you can trust to always be there for you and accept you. Without this, we grow up not only with problems connecting to others, but with low self-esteem.

NEGATIVE CORE BELIEFS.

Again, a lack of inner worth is driven by a set of beliefs that we are no good, all created by experiences like the above.

Negative core beliefs sound like:

  • everyone else is better than me
  • I am unlovable
  • if anyone knew the real me nobody would want to know me
  • something inside of me is broken beyond repair.

But I have only had low self-worth since recently

You had a breakup, and now you have no self worth. “I was very confident until that narcissist ruined my life,” you tell yourself.

This way of thinking is actually typical in people with low self worth. Creating a false history, constantly re-writing events, playing the victim and blaming others is a way to avoid facing our long history of inner pain.

Facing up to the fact that we’ve been struggling to feel good most of our lives and deep down don’t like ourselves takes a lot of courage. This cycle of denial and blame can be easier.

But it leads to more pain in the long run. Until we deal head-on with our past, we will always be running from our very selves, and creating the same difficult pattern again and again.

A 2018 study showed that in fact people with low self-esteem actually sabotage relationships with their poor skills at asking for support. Backhanded methods like whining, acting sad, and sulking lead to negative responses from partners.

What does low self-worth lead to?

Common red flags of low self worth are:

  • difficulty with intimacyand relationships
  • defensivenessand blaming others
  • alack of life purpose
  • poor personal boundaries
  • treading water with your career
  • addictions – alcohol abuse, party drugs, overeating
  • eating disorders
  • secret self-harm
  • suicidal thinking
  • victim mentality
  • anxiety and depression.

 

An extract from Psychology Today outlines How to Feel Good About Who You Are

The way you choose to measure your worth affects the kind of life you’ll live. Use a measuring stick based on factors you can control — not the external events in your life.

When you know who you are — and you’re pleased with the person you’ve become — you’ll experience a sense of peace through life’s inevitable ups and downs. You’ll believe in yourself regardless of whether you’ve been fired, gone through a divorce, or failed to get a promotion.

Instead of chasing things that temporarily boost your self-esteem, measure your self-worth by who you are at your core. Behave according to your values and create a life of meaning and purpose.

 

The more I learn…

…about myself and practice psychology, developing the necessary skills to radically accept life as it happens, I notice how many people around me suffer due to things that happen to them in their lives. How they fight against life and therefore end up suffering and becoming victims. How life happens to them rather than for them. If more people were aware of and understood the importance of self-worth and be accountable for their choices in life, depression may become less of a common mental disorder worldwide.

Self-Worth needs to be a subject taught at school.

 

“Ninety percent of the world’s woe comes from people not knowing themselves, their abilities, their frailties, and even their real virtues. Most of us go almost all the way through life as complete strangers to ourselves.”                                                                                                                             –Sidney J. Harris

 

“Honesty consists of the unwillingness to lie to others; maturity, which is equally hard to attain, consists of the unwillingness to lie to oneself.”                                                                               –Sydney J. Harris

 

“When you run into someone who is disagreeable to others, you may be sure he is uncomfortable with himself; the amount of pain we inflict upon others is directly proportional to the amount we feel within us.”                                                                                                                                                     -Sydney J. Harris

2 Replies to “Live, Breathe and Know Your Self Worth”

  1. Dear Cressida,

    I think this is the best piece of thoughtful writing you have ever posted on your blog.

    Whatever you have been doing, and wherever you have been, if this is the result, then I hope you do more.

    Happy New Year.

    Happy True You.

    Peter

    1. Dear Peter,

      Thank you for appreciating this piece as the best thoughtful writing I have posted on my blog.

      Since the first lockdown, with invaluable time and space, I have realised so much about life and the human race through reading, studying, doing courses on psychology and being present for the special people in my life. It’s shown me how to truly help someone in the way they’ve needed, rather than in a way I think they have needed.

      I want to share more of what’s working here on my blog, and I hope it will make a difference to others.

      Take care,
      Cressida

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