View this post on Instagram
“Self-worth.” Hmm. Interesting word—one I had never heard of growing up.
I struggled with self-worth since I was a little kid, so it’s no surprise that I wasn’t familiar with it.
Only when I started reading self-help books did I actually realize that I didn’t feel good about myself.
The consequences were catastrophic, to say the least. I entered destructive relationships because I thought I deserved unavailability, I lost friends because I proved myself in all the wrong ways, and I wrapped up my nights thinking I was ugly, worthless, and unloved.
I’m going to be honest. I’m still working on my self-worth. In fact, I will always be working on it. The path to self-love isn’t linear. It goes up and down, left and right, depending on circumstances and what they make us feel from moment to moment.
But a few years back, I became aware of what having low self-esteem was doing to me. It wreaked havoc on my relationships, self-image, and emotional wellness. I indulged in toxic habits that not only harmed me, but those around me too.
So what exactly is self-worth?
It’s what we believe about ourselves, plain and simple. It’s not something we inherit—it’s something we develop.
Self-worth is a skill—a state of being.
Our surroundings, achievements, and behaviors are inherently tied to how we view ourselves. And with time, our thoughts and feelings feed this vision. Our self-worth then either becomes a monster or an ally.
A great first step to increase our low self-worth is to uncover where it’s coming from. In my case, it clearly came from being bullied as a kid. Where does yours come from? Investigate into it.
Here are six toxic habits that will slowly kill our self-worth:
1. Assuming what other people think about you. I always projected my own (negative) feelings onto other people. Since I was insecure, I thought they didn’t like me or thought badly of me. With time, I learned that my assumptions were inaccurate, and I could never know the motives of other people. My self-worth started increasing when I stopped assuming that people didn’t like me.
2. Holding on to past mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes, but clinging to them kills our self-esteem. Mentally punishing ourselves doesn’t work. However, what does work is forgiveness and acceptance. When I came to terms with the fact that I’m not a perfect person (and will never be), I started looking forward instead of backward.
3. Comparing yourself to other people. Tying our self-worth to other people is beyond damaging. When I compared myself to others, I focused on their best qualities instead of mine. Eventually, I destroyed my self-worth by wanting to be as good as they are, never realizing that we all have our special features. I redirected my energy toward me, instead of them, and now I’m wholly convinced that every person is unique in their own special way.
4. Thinking you can do better. Since I was a little kid, I gave myself a hard time for not doing better, knowing that I always did better. But my aspiration for perfectionism slowly sabotaged my self-worth. With time and a lot of mental work, I learned that my worth is not dependent on my abilities—and that nothing I do can ever be perfect…but it will always be good enough.
5. Not setting boundaries. I was the queen of constantly saying yes to everything and everyone. Of course, this tremendously lowered my self-worth because when we give people the power of choice, we lose ours. Setting boundaries shows people how we want to be treated and what we accept and don’t accept.
6. Blaming others for our own unhappiness. In the past, I thought the circumstances and people around me were responsible for my peace. I was so wrong, and gradually, this belief started hurting my self-worth. We all experience a wide range of emotions—good and bad—and understanding them and where they come from is the first step toward a higher self-esteem. In addition, my emotions in this very moment do not define my value as a person. Emotions are fleeting—value is steadfast.