What we think, feel, and believe about ourselves has a huge impact on the quality of our life and our capacity to succeed in business and in relationships.
A lack of self-esteem is often a cause of being overly sensitive to criticism, obsessed with seeking approval, and being afraid of rejection.
I used to be a girl who derived her sense of confidence and self-worth from others.
I couldn’t feel lovable without having affection from another man.
I was constantly looking for proof of my worth outside of me.
How many compliments did I get? Is any guy interested in me?
There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t leave the house without high heels and red lipstick.
I was not dressing for myself. I used to dress up to get attention and validation from others.
Underneath, I was deeply insecure about myself.
As I matured, I stopped dressing up. I stopped caring as much about how others perceived me.
I thought that in doing so, I transcended my programming.
Eventually, I realized that I was still acting out from the same wound—only this time I wore a different mask.
This wound was the belief that I am unlovable for who I am. A belief from childhood that in order for someone to love me, I would need to become someone else.
It’s just that this time around, my strategy had changed. I was doing the opposite of seeking approval. I was in a state of rebellion and began to do the opposite of what I believed was expected of me.
I thought to myself: If it’s not for others, then why should I care about how I look?
Well, why not just for myself?
So I decided: This time I’m not going to dress up in order to seek external validation, nor to neglect myself in an act of “rebellion.”
Instead, I was going to dress up as an act of self-love and self-care, as an expression of my unique personality.
Here are some of my key realizations about self-worth that led me to this point:
1. Self-worth isn’t defined by external factors.
Our self-worth doesn’t depend on how much we earn, what we own, how skinny we are, nor on our relationship status. Our self-worth is something that is deeply inherent within us. It’s derived from our very existence.
A baby doesn’t need to do anything in order to be worthy. It’s a simple truth, yet somewhere down the line, in the process of our upbringing and social conditioning, many of us have been taught to believe otherwise.
When we believe we are unworthy, we end up thinking that others have more worth than us and therefore, we define our worth from what they consider worthy. We create a “persona worthy of attention and love.” This persona takes a lot of energy to be maintained.
2. Comparison is a trap.
There will always be someone who is more successful or less successful than we are—more this or that. And so, if we compare ourselves to others and define our self-worth from it, we will continue to be dissatisfied and feel unworthy.
There is nothing wrong with being inspired by others. In fact, it can be beneficial for our own process of growth. The problem arises when we feel like we can never achieve the same. This can lead to jealousy, envy, and feelings of powerlessness.
This doesn’t need to be the case. We can achieve anything we put enough effort, dedication, and focus into. However, what’s more important is to choose a life path that uplifts and ignites us.
The path that is relevant to our soul—not just something that sounds cool or will make us look good.
“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.” ~ Brene Brown
3. To feel is to be alive.
We cannot honour ourselves and at the same time hate some of our emotions. Although we are not our emotions, we often identify with them, and as a result, end up hating ourselves too. I love how Lori Deschene expressed it. “You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly ok to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared, or anxious. It doesn’t make you a ‘negative person.’ It makes you human.”
Part of being spiritual is about honouring both our divine as well as our human aspect. Nobody has everything figured out, even though it sometimes may appear this way when scrolling through social media.
4. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Most of us find that there are certain qualities or aspects of our personalities that we wish we did not have. Perfection is an illusion. It implies a state beyond which there is no more growth. The universe is ever-expanding, meaning that all that exists is also in the state of becoming.
It’s a process of discovery of our authentic self, our true core being.
As lovers can see “the ideal” in their beloved, and yet be aware of their flaws, so can we be loving of ourselves despite our imperfections. We can do so by honouring where we are and who we are. Our past, with all its challenges or regrets, is what led us exactly to this moment and this moment is what’s going to lead us to our future version.
All of these versions of us are perfectly imperfect.