Measuring Self Worth

I have read and heard a lot this past week about self-worth. I hear ladies determining their “value” or “self-worth” by their clothing size, image in the mirror, or weight. I still do the same thing from time to time. Although, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a smaller size or look good in the mirror, neither of those things determines the kind of person you are, your value or self-worth. I want to talk about this for a moment but first I want to share some other things that also don’t determine your value or self-worth:

  • Your age, your job, your social media following, your appearance, other people, your relationship status, your grades in school, your bank account, what your like or don’t like, how much you weight, who you know, where your live, how big your house is AND THE LIST GOES ON!

People, especially women, tie too much to all these things. We always think if we were just a little smaller, knew the right people, were in a relationship, had more money, lived in a better area etc., life would be magical and perfect. Then when we have all those things, we are surprised and can’t figure out why we still feel awful about ourselves. The problem with waiting until you have all those things to enjoy life and see you are worthy; is you will die missing out on what life has to offer.

Learning to love yourself for what you are RIGHT NOW, TODAY, isn’t easy. It’s hard to look in the mirror and say to yourself “I’m beautiful just the way I am,” when everything around us screams be smaller, get more money etc. I remember being asked once, “who are you?” My very first response was “I’m a probation officer.” The person who asked me that question said, “Ummmm that’s what you do. That’s not who you are, and it doesn’t tell me anything about your value or self-worth. And it certainly doesn’t tell me what you bring to the table in a relationship or friendship.” Believe me when I tell you, I had absolutely no idea what to say. Sad right!?!

The only person on the planet that can determine this for you is YOU! Read that again.

I have learned over the years and especially in the last two or three years of my journey to health, I had to stop chasing the temporary things that boosted my self-esteem. After I retired and while I was trying to beat cancer and heal from adrenal insufficiency, I had a lot of time to think. I struggled so much with this concept because I put so much into what I did for a living. All of my self-esteem was tied up in being the best probation officer, the best crocheter, the best…fill in the blank. I had completely lost myself in what I could do that I could not answer the question “who are you.”

So, at the beginning or near the beginning of 2022, I decided I was going to figure out who I was and build my self-esteem, because that is directly tied to knowing your value, knowing your self-worth and knowing you are enough…every single day.

For me it started with understanding what self-worth meant. If you don’t know, it means to value yourself, to know you deserve to be treated with respect and to feel like you are a good person regardless of things I listed above. I always thought self-esteem, value and self-worth were all different things but really, they pretty much mean the same thing. Self-confidence is also tied to this, but you could have one without the other. I am very self-confident in my ability to do my job, but my self-esteem still suffers.

So, it is a lot easier if you start this process as a child. For children you give them unconditional love and respect and give them opportunities to succeed. This helps them grow up knowing their self-worth. In other words, if you teach a child, you will love and respect them and accept them for who and what they are, they will grow up accepting and loving themselves for exactly who and what they are.

So, for me, as an adult, it was a little harder. I had to really think about me as a person. I had to ask myself what I look for in other people, my friends, my family. I looked for kindness, compassion, empathy, respect for others, and how they treated the people around them. I started to realize I was a strong, kind, empathetic, compassionate and capable. Then I had to start the positive thinking thing. I had to stop my inner critic. Every time I had a negative thought about myself, out loud I said, “stop it.” Then I replaced the negative with the positive. I also had to accept my flaw. I worked on becoming a better person but remembered I would never be perfect. I wrote lists about myself.

I found an exercise online from self-growth guru Adam Sicinski. He suggested asking yourself these questions:

  1. Imagine that everything you have is suddenly taken away from you (i.e., possessions, relationships, friendships, status, job/career, accomplishments and achievements, etc.);
  2. Ask yourself the following questions:
    a. What if everything I have was suddenly taken away from me?
    b. What if all I had left was just myself?
    c. How would that make me feel?
    d. What would I actually have that would be of value?
  3.  Think about your answers to these questions and see if you can come to this conclusion: “No matter what happens externally and no matter what’s taken away from me, I’m not affected internally;”
  4. Next, get to know yourself on a deeper level with these questions:
    a. Who I am? I am . . . I am not . . .
    b. How am I?
    c. How am I in the world?
    d. How do others see me?
    e. How do others speak about me?
    f. What key life moments define who I am today?
    g. What brings me the most passion, fulfillment, and joy?
  5. Once you have a good understanding of who you are and what fulfills and satisfies you, it’s time to look at what isn’t so great or easy about being you. Ask yourself these questions:
    a. Where do I struggle most?
    b. Where do I need to improve?
    c. What fears often hold me back?
    d. What habitual emotions hurt me?
    e. What mistakes do I tend to make?
    f. Where do I tend to consistently let myself down?
  6.  Finally, take a moment to look at the flipside; ask yourself:
    a. What abilities do I have?
    b. What am I really good at?

This exercise is so much harder than you think. It took me months to get through it because I had to keep rewriting and changing it because I realized I hadn’t answered the questions.

Something happened when I finally finished it. I realized my self-worth and with that my ability to love and respect the people in my life became better. My relationships that mattered became stronger. And those people who couldn’t recognize my self-worth…well I kicked them to the curb. I realized it was okay to expect people to treat me with respect and kindness because I no longer felt unworthy of it. I realized I had friends in my life that took advantage of me and were not always kind. I didn’t really see it until I realized I was worth a lot more than they thought. I also realized that relationships are not 50/50 they are 100/100. I mean seriously if they are 50/50 what half are you getting?

Annnnddddd…I realized it was okay to have relationships that were temporary. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever. It’s okay to ask yourself, “What am I getting out of this relationship?” If the answer is nothing, then maybe it is time to walk away.

With all of this, I still struggle a little and some days a lot. It is easy to slip into old patterns. But I have come to realize my life is about the journey, not the destination. As time goes on, I love myself more and more. I am healing, I am growing, and I AM ENOUGH just the way I am today.

One last thing. A therapist told me if I wanted to feel better about myself I needed to do these things:

  1. Know who I am and be aware of my existence
  2. Accept mysef and be grateful for who I am
  3. Know my worth; stop blaming; love myself because it’s my duty to myself
  4. See myself as capable
  5. Be the real me, be assertitive and express my needs
  6. Be positive in all things; look and take in only the positive side
  7. Take responsibility, face my fears and remember to be courageous
  8. Don’t take everything personally, and be comfortable with being uncomfortable
  9. Stop caring and thinking what everyone else thinks of you. It is not your business
  10. See life and people as a gift; don’t be judugemental; accept everyone like you want to be accepted.
  11. Never compare yourself to another person; you are unique
  12. And in her words, “For God sakes stop seeking everyone’s approval. Consider what you think is more important than what they think.”

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