I’ll start with a hard question: Where does your self-worth come from? On the surface it can seem easy: “my self-worth comes from myself, obviously.” But if you really look inward and reflect, it becomes clear that sometimes this isn’t the case. And that’s really scary. We can unknowingly and accidentally put our self-worth on things or people that are outside of our control, and this can turn toxic very quickly if we aren’t careful.
So, how do we recognize when our self-worth is coming from the wrong places? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
To recognize it, you have to pay attention to how you feel, both physically and mentally. Constantly feeling a bit under the weather? Maybe you’re having a little trouble sleeping or eating? These are big indicators that something is off. Constantly feeling anxious but you’re not sure why? Are seemingly little things upsetting you more than they should? Feeling guilty for no apparent reason? These feelings could be trying to tell you there’s a bigger problem. If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to check in on yourself, and make yourself a priority. But how?
Step 1: Schedule some me-time
Give yourself some time to relax. If you’re like me, you’re very good at overbooking yourself and you continue to deplete your own energy without even meaning to. Block out a day or even just a few hours in your schedule to do nothing but be with yourself. You could meditate, do yoga, read a book, take a walk, or whatever else helps you feel in tune and aware of your inner world. Just relax.
Notice how you feel when you’re by yourself. What kind of thoughts keep creeping into your mind? Are there worries that won’t go away? Are you constantly putting yourself down and thinking “I’m stupid” or “I’m an idiot”? These are huge red flags, and you need to figure out what’s making these thoughts pop into your head.
Step 2: Identify the source
Once you complete step one and you remove some of the craziness from your mind, this will be easier to do. Reflect on who and what your current priorities are, and how these priorities make you feel. Maybe your priority is your job, but the work environment is toxic. Maybe your priority is your future goal, whatever it may be, but you are so focused on conditional achievements that you’re convinced you won’t be happy until you have x, y, and z. Or, maybe your priority is your relationship, and while you’re giving selflessly to your partner, you’re not getting anything in return.
Whatever it may be, you need to identify where you are getting your own self-worth from so that if it’s in an unhealthy place, you are able to change it.
Step 3: Transfer the source of your self-worth to you
This is arguably the hardest part, because it involves training your mind to drop the toxic thoughts and habits you’ve developed and create new, positive ones.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, so these are the hardest things to realize. You are enough just as you are. You are worthy of love and respect, and you don’t need the approval of others to help you realize this. Start trying to treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Be brutally but lovingly honest, pamper yourself, spend time doing what you enjoy, and let yourself rest.
Actively focus on all the good things about yourself, and accept and work on your flaws. We’re all human, and we all have flaws. You are not worth any less because of how someone else treats you or what someone else thinks of you. If it helps, find a mantra and keep it someplace where you’ll see it each day. Make positive thoughts about yourself and self-care a habit. You may have to force it a little at first, but after a while it will come naturally. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, and always stand up for yourself. You will notice it, and others will too.
Putting this topic into three steps seems like it’s being made too simple. None of these steps is simple. In fact, these are some of the hardest things you’ll have to do for yourself. It may result in loss of relationships but it will also result in new discoveries that will improve your life tremendously.