It was a long and arduous journey for me. The quest for higher self-worth is not as easy as one might think. When we take the time to look around us, we will notice how each person’s definition os self-worth varies. Some value what other people think of them; others believe that it is based on how much they have (or don’t have) in their bank accounts. Some will say that their past made them who they are. Others value the material things they acquire to prove their worth to the world. Self-worth is like building a house – do you build it on sand or build your home on solid ground?
I remember growing up in a conservative Filipino household. I would always hear the words “What would people say if you do this?” or “You should get your grades up so that you will be at par with your cousins” or “Just follow what others will normally do.”
I grew up in a culture where young kids are prohibited from voicing out their opinion in conversations; where finishing school with a degree has been instilled in young minds that’s it’s their only way out of poverty; where those who dress well are considered wealthy and respected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all negative growing up. I had my share of childhood fun like Sunday picnics at the beach, playing with my friends the whole day on weekends and summer breaks, hanging out at the mall with friends, etc. However, there’s that pervasive atmosphere of having a limited identity, a little voice and limited involvement in the decision-making process.
I grew up trying to hide most of my feelings and mistakes for fear of my parents getting angry, fear of being perceived as weak and be rejected, for fear of being judged. I became very conscious of what other people will say. Even with limited resources, I tried my best to look well on the outside, yet my inner self is losing identity. I was conscious not to go out of the house without make-up because I was not confident. I strived hard to do well in school even if the choice of degree is not what I wanted. When I started working, I would spend a good chunk of my salary on clothes, to the point that sometimes I don’t have enough to pay for my rent. I thought this was normal. I knew I had values and morals that I stand for but not sure what they are at the same time. I put too much importance on others’ opinions that I didn’t really know what I want in life. Little did I realize that I was putting up a show to please others, and in return, I had low self-worth.
So, what is SELF-WORTH? PositivePsychology.com defines self-worth as how you value yourself, and Merriam-Webster describes it further as a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.
And how do we get to the point that we realize that we need to be treated with more respect? How do we recognize that there is a lot of good in us?
My journey to self-worth realization has been long. I didn’t have a mentor who would’ve guided me through a more strategic and faster route. Because of low self-worth, I have been through verbally abusive relationships. I was easily deceived and would often just turn my back even if I know I’ve been disrespected. I had no clear goals and would drown my feeling of inadequacy in alcohol and shallow relationships. Good thing I didn’t turn out to be an alcoholic.
It took me several challenges and struggles in life to realize that I’m worthy – I’m worthy of love, I’m worthy of care, I’m worthy of compassion, I’m worthy of time, I’m worthy of attention, I’m worthy of praise, I’m worthy of respect. I also realized that I should start giving these values, care, and love to myself to receive these. Each struggle that I survived has given me lessons to ponder and master.
Eventually, I discovered that I’m brave. I’m inherently kind and compassionate. I found my strengths and learned how to control my weaknesses. I started loving myself and taking care of it. I know that I must fill my cup first so that I’m able to give love, compassion, care, respect, kindness, honesty, and joy to others.
I knew then that I’m starting to give more value to myself. And I’m on my way to recovery. Then, I had my daughter. The love and joy she brought added to my self-esteem and my self-worth.
The moment I started to have better self-worth, I became more productive at work. I embrace each morning with joy and anticipation. I’m not easily side-tracked by problems and hardships because I know what I’m capable of. I became resilient and brave. I learned to have self-control and allow no one to steal my joy and peace. I started attracting opportunities and people who share the same values and dreams. I became more confident. I gained more wisdom.
My self-worth is now grounded on a solid foundation.
My journey to a higher Self-Worth taught me these:
1. ALLOW YOUR PAST TO BE YOUR TEACHER. I cherished the lessons I’ve learned from my past, including from the mistakes I’ve made. I used the learnings to remind me not to make the same mistake twice (or sometimes thrice!). Some people don’t progress because they prefer to be stuck in the past and let their mistakes take control until they lose the desire to value themselves. “Embrace your past. It’s your greatest teacher. When you learn and apply those lessons, then it no longer defines your future.” (Sarah Centrella)
2. LEARN TO FORGIVE AND LOVE YOURSELF. We are our best friend and our worst critic. How many times have we bashed ourselves for the mistakes we have made? For us to move on, we must learn to forgive ourselves. Truly forgive ourselves. Loving ourselves is not selfish. We start to fill our empty cup with better attitudes, better behaviours, good values, and morals. When our cup is filled and overflowing, we can share these with others to make their lives better. Selfishness is actually a fruit of not loving ourselves – when our cup is empty, we are incapable of giving wholeheartedly, and we do a disservice to the people around us.
3. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENTERTAIN PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION OF YOU. How many times have you encountered family or friends doubting your capabilities? How many times have you allowed their doubts to eat your confidence? In the past, I allowed detractors to get the best of me until my enthusiasm diminished. I consciously made a choice to put a stop to this behaviour. I chose to honour myself and believe in my worth. The moment that I knew I have faith in myself, no matter what others say to me to put my spirit down, they don’t win at all. When people see that they can’t take advantage of you and realize your worth, they begin to give you the respect you deserve.
A coach can be your guide towards the journey to higher self-worth. Let me show you how. You can connect with me by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message via my FB and Instagram pages, Coached By Joy.
A coach is your strategist. A coach is your ally. A coach is committed to your success.