My Road to Self-Worth
I've spent a good portion of my life seeking my worth. At times it was a bit like searching for the invisible man.
Where do you look for something you can't see?
The Wrong Path
I started my journey of self-worth going down the wrong path.
My father showed me how to love and be loved and my mother gave me work ethic and courage. Kind of hard to do any blaming here, except I did anyway.
My mom traveled 3-4 nights a week as long as I could remember. She made rehab services possible for Parkinson's patients, even lobbying in Washington D.C. on their behalf. As an adult I see the amazingly beautiful things she did for others but as a child I had a lot of sadness from her absence. This was the basis for my blaming.
If my mother were there I would feel like a whole person, I told myself.
Around the same time I was beginning to blame I picked up another habit, comparison.
I was middle of the road at pretty much everything and bottom of the heap in athletics. I constantly compared myself to the smartest, most athletic and most outgoing.
Why couldn't I be more like them? What was wrong with me?
Rarely excelling or standing out made me a prime target for bullying. So, I suited up in my under armor. Let me remind you it was the late 80s/early 90s and the actual Under Armour company wasn't around yet. The armor I chose was the type that protected me from hurt.
My armor of choice, humor, the self deprecating kind. If I was the butt of the joke I beat everyone else to the punch! Brilliant! (I'm happy to report I was never bullied)
I saw other kids suit up too but there's took on other forms: isolation, anger, physical violence, bullying and, everyone's favorite,"mean girl".
Why is middle school so hard? Because everyone is suiting up in their armor of choice and learning to use it as a weapon. (me included)
Once middle school was over my talents started showing themselves. With this came compliments which started my new love affair with validation.
Hearing even one compliment or word of encouragement started me down a spiral of validation interrogation. Am I smart? Am I pretty? Am I (fill in the blank)? Someone else had to tell me.
Over the course of 20 years I exhausted friends, husbands and coworkers with my never-ending need for validation.
For years I missed what worth was and where I could find it.
Blaming, comparison and validation only made my worth deteriorate. These behaviors put me in the backseat of my own life, taking away my power to my worth.
Humor also kept people at arms length. Never letting people get too close. If they did, a biting sarcastic remark would be wielded at them.
My protection became my prison.
By suiting up I was depriving my heart of a deep meaningful relationship where I freely gave and received love.
The Road Map
You may identify with my life but why get stuck on the wrong path when I created a little road map for you.
While I searched for my self-worth all around me I was missing that it lived inside me.
I decide how others make me feel and I value myself enough to see other's opinions don't define me.
Landmark 1: I encourage you to look inside and find things that make you unique, interesting and valuable to the world. Are you a good packer? Do you do laundry like a rockstar? Those are gifts too ya know. Start a list and add to it daily or when you feel less than. When you start small your self-worth will grow and the gift list will change into an automatic way of thinking. Squash the doubt and grow the positive thinking.
It lives in flow
Have you ever been lost in a task such as solving a work problem, creating art, writing a blog, journalling or (my personal favorite) building an excel spreadsheet. Then you've experienced something known as flow.
When you are doing work that interests and challenges you, you lose all track of time and become hyper focused. In this hyper focused state it's impossible to think about yourself, good or bad. You just flow.
The more time you spend in a flow state the less time you have for the self-sabotage thinking of blame, comparison and validation. You'll also be too busy to put on your suit of armor.
Landmark 2: Find a flow activity STAT! Don't know which one? Think of something positive you did as a child that you got in trouble for because you spent so much time on it (painting, puzzles, playing chess, sewing and playing an instrument are all examples to get your ideas going)
If you build it they will come
You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Jim Rohn
If you surround yourself with people also in low self-worth mode, you too will have low self-worth.
Instead, find a new group of friends that grow your worth by filling yet challenging you, just like flow.
These friends should inspire you to achieve more, believe in yourself and see the possibilities for your own success.
Also, when you change your thinking you will naturally start attracting more fulfilling relationships. It's like they show up out of the blue. Your worth starts tracking these people down and like a homing beacon, bringing them to you.
Landmark 3: Find fulfilling relationships. Join a group or go to tradeshows associated with your flow activity.
That alone should get the fulfilling relationship party started but if you’re looking for more think about work colleagues you enjoy spending with and are slightly senior than you. You need room to grow and these higher level relationships will stretch you out of your comfort zone.
My wish is for you to learn from my past so that you create a better future for yourself.
In my best Dr. Seuss writing style, Now go with the flow and grow your worth grow!