The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self worth as ” a sense of one’s own value as a human being”. It is interesting that this definition defines self worth on how a person sees themselves when in reality many people base their self worth on how they perceive others see them and/or how others treat them.
From working with clients in the emotional / mental space I have questioned where does self worth really come from. What I’ve determined is that it is based on our belief system about our self. Our beliefs about who we are, our beliefs as to what we do and don’t deserve and what we will and won’t accept.
Most of our belief and neurological patterns occur from the ages of two to seven. At a time when we were unable to question what we were told, and when our parents are the most significant role models we have. Therefore the words they use (or don’t use), the actions they take (or don’t take), their reactions and non- reactions, all of which are teaching us and giving us conscious and unconscious messaging.
We then interact with the world by connecting with family, going to daycare, then school or even watching television. All of which we discover other significant role models, who also can have a strong influence on us. Reinforcing our beliefs or supplement our beliefs by giving us new ones.
All of which is at an age when we did not have the necessary tools, nor resources to test the truisms of what we told, taught or shown.
Whilst beliefs can be created from various other sources, it is primarily significant people to whom we consciously or unconsciously give authority to regarding our self worth.
As a child or teenager it is understandable that we consider significant people in our lives as an authority ~ because they usually do have a role to discipline, decide what is right for us and give us orders. Yet as we grow into adulthood we don’t realise that we are most likely continuing to give their voice a platform.
As we mature we bring others into our lives in the form of friends and partners. People who whom we hold in strong regard and thus can have a strong influence on us and thus whom may impact our worthiness or lack thereof.
I recall in college an English teacher who told me that my writing was no good. As she was my teacher, an authority figure, I believed her. The way she also gave me this feedback, it seemed to me, that I would never be any good at it.
However I love writing. I love the creation aspect of it and it is something that gives me joy. It is something that when I am in the flow, I do so with ease. However what I realised was there was a block to me writing, instead I’d find other activities that “needed” doing.
Whilst it could be said I was procrastinating, it actually was this teacher’s words unconsciously playing in the background. Because whenever I went to write I became aware I was doubting the quality of my writing and whether any one would want to read it.
Another example of where my worth was dependant on a “significant other” was an ex-boyfriend who cheated several times during our relationship. I took his cheating as a sign that there was something wrong with me for him to do that.
In order to build your self worth you need to have awareness. Awareness of who are the significant other/s to whom you have, or are, giving a platform to. A platform for their voice and/or behaviours to mean more than your own.
The next step is consciously to take your power back from them. This is done by our “Calling your Spirit back” meditation ( http://innersagisms.thinkific.com/courses/calling-your-spirit-back-audio ).
Alternatively you can take your power back by knowing you have choice as to what you do and don’t listen to. I do this by simply saying to myself “I choose not to listen to those words any longer. I choose to listen to my own”.
You can also take your power back by re-framing what you made their actions or words mean. Re-framing is a method used to look at things from a different perspective to view a person, experience or situation in a more empowering way.
Taking the example of the teacher. As soon as I realised her words were playing in the background, I made a choice to no longer allow them to. I also re-framed this by understanding that what I wrote didn’t mean her expectations. Whilst it could have possibly needed work, it didn’t mean what I wrote was all “bad”.
Also in the example of the ex-boyfriend. We had chosen to be in a committed relationship and he didn’t maintain our agreement. It had nothing to do with me, it was about his choices. I stopped making his actions about me and instead identified his actions as reflective of him.
Significant others can trigger the creation of a belief about yourself and your worth, however you will have been seeking out references to support that belief. To help release these references you want to question their validity yet also seek out references where the opposite is true.
Using the example of the teacher, such alternative references are the many clients who’ve told me how much they love my articles and how much they help them. I’ve also been approached by publications asking me if they can use my articles. Other references are the articles which have been published.
The more references you seek out that reflect your self worth then the stronger that belief will be.
Your worth is within you. Stop giving others the power to affect how you feel about your self. Go within and from inside out build your own worth. Be your authority on who you are and the value you bring.