By: Guest Blogger
It has come to my attention that I may have some self-worth issues. Finally thanks to my therapist Lynn, I've identified a huge thread not only in my relationships but in my life. Lynn mentioned that to put up with the things I had in my relationship, I must have low self-esteem. It didn't 100% resonate with me, because I know I think very highly of myself. Doing due diligence was off but many of the symptoms applied:
- Hyper-vigilance (how to act, what to wear/say/do, scrutiny of people’s reactions)
- Lack of assertiveness (at least until I am too upset to hold in my anger or communicate calmly. When angry, I become aggressive, defensive, passive-aggressive, sarcastic, rude in response to rudeness, etc.
- Fear of disturbing or upsetting others
- Poor boundaries (overly forgiving, overly flexible, overly tolerant). I give way too many second chances
- Fear of rejection (Do anything from appearing perfect to becoming manipulative to avoid it)
- People pleasing
- Wearing a mask. (Nobody sees my struggle)
- Social withdrawal
- Self-neglect (treating myself, but not others badly)
- Worrying that I've mistreated others while sticking up for myself.
- Smiling when I don’t feel happy to put on a strong face and be positive so I don’t make others uncomfortable
- Needing adoration, especially from people who are known to be highly discriminating
I did a little further digging and the words self-worth started to come up as a different distinction from self-esteem, a diagnosis I could fully merge with:
Self-esteem: How you feel about yourself based on your actions. It’s what you have control over; how you feel about yourself from the inside out based on what you have accomplished. Overall you are proud of yourself for who you are, what you stand for and what actions you take or don’t take based on the values you choose to orient your life around.
Self-worth: Has a much more spiritual bond to it because its directly related to your identity, your sense of self, your overall feeling of importance and value in the world; the value of your contribution in your own eyes. Overall it’s a feeling of whether or not you feel that you deserve to be here on earth and have the right to take up space as equals with others and have the right to be happy with in that space you call your life?
Interestingly as I examined my life, I feel like I must chase my successes. I act as though I do not deserve the things that I have: always shrinking myself, often apologetic for things I don’t even need to apologize for. I always think of it as being fair, humble and considerate, but it’s something much deeper. It’s an energy that makes me act as though I deserve nothing unless I earn other people’s approval of me.
My self-examination opened up a flood-gate of thoughts and awareness around my being:
- I apologize sometimes for being in someone’s way even if I have a right to be there. I often move out of their way as if they deserve the space more than I. I have to mentally force myself to hold my ground.
- I usually don’t weigh in my opinion because I feel it’s not my place to critique what others do
- I will give my last anything to others, sometimes at the expense of my own needs.
- I put my partner’s needs before my own and lose myself in my relationships as a result. I feel like I am strong and can tough-it-out for the benefit of others I love.
- I never ask favors. I hate putting people out of their way or feeling like a burden. For the very same reason, I will not chase others. Therefore, I value someone who will chase me and anticipate my needs without my having to verbalize them. I don’t like feeling like someone isn’t doing something of their own inspiration or will. I will only ask once.
- I will go out of my way for others, but won’t let them do it for me. If they don’t reciprocate I become resentful.
- I must do everything perfectly for others to like or respect me. If I don’t I snap into corrective mode and often blame myself if things go awry.
- I think I am pretty smart, kind, accomplished and quite an asset but I secretly seek validation from everyone, even though I will never let it show so as not to appear needy or self-conscious.
- I let the other person set the tone of our relationship and play along unless it becomes severely uncomfortable.
- My time, money, and efforts are more happily spent pleasing others than myself.
- Being misunderstood causes me tremendous suffering because I just want people to see me the way I see myself. When others’ views align with the views I have of myself, all is right with the world.
- I only feel good about myself when my ducks are all in a row: well-dressed, coiffed hair and makeup, nice apartment, chirpy mood, nice neighborhood, admirable career, perfect girlfriend, pets, etc.. I am constantly molding my idea of what perfect looks like to how others see it.
- I’m insatiable. Reaching an achievement doesn't make me feel the worthiness, so I set a higher goal. It could all disappear in a blink and take my esteem with it.
- I’m constantly editing myself (why I like to write instead of speak)
- I call myself an introvert because it’s exhausting to be around people. Honestly, it’s exhausting to be perfect and I don’t consider myself presentable or comparable or company-worthy unless I am.
- I hate inauthenticity. I don’t respect anyone who isn't completely themselves, who is overly nice, who is a people pleaser, perhaps because I see so much of myself in them. I actually prefer mean people because they say how they really feel. They tell me if I’m really good enough. No ego strokes, just honesty. If I can overcome the challenge of getting a mean person to like me, I win. I love challenges!
- Throughout childhood at school and in community, I always felt the need to be better than the best. Every time I felt good about something, there was someone there to make me feel bad about it: Carob milk, skinny legs, dark skin, nappy hair, thick lips, nerdy, weird clothes, unpopular, uncool, unattractive, black kid in white community.
- There is always something to prove, feeling like the challenges people threw at me I could over-come and be special as a result.
So with all this marvelous self-discovery, what have I learned? First, that all these ideas and thoughts about myself are all made up and that they are not real. I have allowed them to filter how I see myself and consequently the world in which I live. All of these are results of things made up from experiences in the past whether vicariously or personally. They are not really who I am. I’ve discovered that they place limits on me and though I am very successful and have achieved a lot, I could really take on the world to achieve way more than I could ever imagine if I took a different view.
I have a choice in the matter and how I see myself, and I no longer have to be victim to these past impressions and thoughts about myself. I can be satisfied in the thought that I am just as important as the other person, and that by leaving these past thoughts about myself behind me, I gain freedom and access anew, to creating a new me. Totally free to paint my life and the evidence of who I want to be in this world.
Do you share similar views of yourself in any way? Take thought in knowing this, that you too can in an instant recognize that it is all made up and in this moment you are able to start today to transform that current view of yourself. Living from that newly transformed view causes the world and the people in it to appear to act differently. As a result, you will suddenly discover that your way of being in the past has contributed to your past experiences, good or bad, and that by this new discovery you can paint the world you desire to see, from your viewpoint. It is all according to your view. What will you paint today?
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