You know that feeling when you’re working hard, you’re doing your best, and you still feel unappreciated, unnoticed, and uncared for? Maybe you’ve felt it in a job or even a relationship. You end up feeling… well, worthless or not good enough.
Not knowing or understanding my worth has played out many times in my life, especially when bosses from the ‘good ol’ boys club’ were sitting in the high seat. Maybe I was too confident for a woman. Maybe I knew more than them. Maybe I had a voice, and for some men, they didn’t want women to have voices or strong opinions.
Or sometimes, it was women who were petty and tried to put me in my place. Maybe they were threatened by my confidence and my spirit. Maybe they didn’t like my running legs, my progressive ways of teaching, or the fact that I smiled...a lot. Some tried to demoralize me or make me feel less than because I navigated the world differently.
Or maybe it was on me at times. Maybe I didn’t know how to recognize or demand my value. Maybe I was too afraid to stand up for myself. Maybe I stayed away from conflict because I didn’t believe enough in myself.
It’s important not to take things personally and realize you are not in the right place for yourself. And once you know your value, the world opens up for you.
So, how do you start to take charge of your self-worth and walk through life with confidence? The first step is to recognize the ways you give away your value.
The list goes on and on….
And listen, I, too, struggle with some of these. For example, I struggle to draw boundaries around my work life when my momma wants to call me during a typical workday and ask for something.
I struggle to state my own opinion when I feel uncomfortable or afraid of conflict.
I have given WAAAYYYY too much advice away for free.
These are all signs that we all struggle with embracing our self-worth and may be missing out on huge opportunities because of it.
Here are a few strategies for reclaiming your value.
According to Dr. Christina Hibbert, self-worth is, “recognizing ‘I am greater than all of those things.’ It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am lovable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.” It’s different from self-esteem and self-confidence, although they are quite similar.
Self-worth is not tied to your job title, income, how far you can run, or relationship status—your perceived self-worth is completely separate. It’s knowing that you are completely worthy of unconditional love and happiness, no matter what other factors impact your life.
Know that your inner critical voice is working against you at times, and you can’t let it get the best of you. Your inner critic will always be there, but we can learn to tame her down a few notches. By the way, I’ve even named my inner critic. Her name is Ethel, and she has snake-like hair. She can be brash. She loves to let me know when I get out of line, make a mistake, or fail at something. She can be brutal.
But I’ve learned to be more aware of “Ethel.” I now talk back to her with kindness, empathy, and respect for myself. I try not to be so judgmental of my so-called short-fallings and realize I am just a human being having human experiences.
But most of all, I want all of us to know we are worthy.
We are worthy of being loved. We are worthy of someone buying us dinner. We are worthy of asking for help when we need it. We are allowed to be kind to our vulnerabilities and wrap them in a warm blanket rather than feel bad for being human.
I want to end this with a story I recently read. It hit home for me, as I think it will for you as well.
An Anecdote on Self-Worth
A father said to his daughter, “You have graduated with honors, here is a car I bought many years ago. It is pretty old now. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you for it.”
The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father, and said, “They offered me $1,000 because they said it looks pretty worn out.”
The father said, now, “Take it to the pawn shop.” The daughter went to the pawn shop, returned to her father, and said, “The pawn shop offered only $100 because it is an old car.”
The father asked his daughter to go to a car club now and show them the car. The daughter then took the car to the club, returned, and told her father, “Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it because ‘it's an iconic car and sought by many collectors.’”
Now the father said this to his daughter, “The right place values you the right way.” If you are not valued, don’t be angry—it means you are in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you… Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.
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