How do we measure worth? It’s always amazed me how much we try to learn about ourselves by looking to the outside. We take cues from others, from friends and family and even celebrities, about what our lives should look like, how we should be spending our time, where we should find our happiness. It’s not a bad thing to have people in our lives whom we aspire to be like, but sometimes this can turn us deaf to the voice within. We all have natural instincts, a gravitational pull towards the things that make us feel the most like ourselves. We all have value and worth that’s as much an inherent part of us as our own skin, even if sometimes we forget to acknowledge it.
This year has been extraordinarily difficult for so many reasons, but one thing it has offered us is a chance to look at ourselves through the lens of our own happiness, our own contentment, our own satisfaction with life instead of having an audience to perform for. In everyday life we are always receiving so many cues and messages about what will make us worthy in the eyes of others, what we can do to please other people with our appearance, our job, our net worth, our output. The quiet of the pandemic has given us the opportunity to cut out all of those messages and just reflect: what gives my life meaning and value in my eyes? When we remove the need to seek validation from other people, we can find the path to our own true happiness— our true value to this world is to fall in love with being ourselves. This is the way that we offer the most to the world, as people who are happy and fulfilled and focused on caring for other people instead of worrying about how they see us.
Living through the pandemic has presented so many challenges, but we can also see it as a unique time to reset the way we organize our lives. Spend some time in self reflection. Follow your own instincts without consulting anybody and see how it feels. Believing in ourselves, listening to ourselves, defining our own “net worth,” can be such a bold act of self-restoration. We have so many voices influencing us every day, be it in person or through our devices. If your inner voice has become muted, spend some time cultivating it and rediscovering the things that make it grow louder. When we are loving ourselves and allowing that love to pour out of us into the world, when we live each moment to the fullest, that is where we find our true worth.
If you’re struggling to rediscover your own self worth, here are a few small steps that might help:
- Wear a piece of clothing that you love but have never let yourself go out in before. See how much you shine when you dress exactly how you want.
- Be honest with a loved one when they say or do something hurtful instead of just ignoring it to avoid making waves. You deserve the right to stand up for yourself as much as anyone else.
- Make a list of places in your town you’ve always wanted to go with someone. Choose a few to see all by yourself because you deserve it.
- Pick up a journal and write down five strengths you believe you have; spend time writing about why each one is important to you.
- Decide to start a hobby or project you’ve been dreaming about for years; whether it’s learning guitar or starting an herb garden, I guarantee the hardest part is just deciding to take the first step!
- Spend ten minutes a day of quiet time with yourself. Whether you’d like to spend it meditating, going for a walk or drive, or just staring out the window, the only rule is that you can’t put on a playlist, a tv show or a podcast as a buffer. See if you start to feel more comfortable and safer in your own company.
- Anytime you feel disappointed or angry at yourself for a mistake, ask yourself if you would treat a friend of yours the same way if they had made the mistake. We often reserve our harshest words and perspectives for ourselves because we feel like, somehow, we are an exception to the rule that everyone has worth. Start treating yourself with the same care and understanding that you’d show a friend: you can recognize faults and the need for growth without injecting that knowledge with disdain and self-loathing.
- Anytime you are disappointed in something about yourself, take time to appreciate one positive thing. You are more than just your faults. Make it a point to recognize things you’re good at, or even be thankful for the little things like your body’s ability to feel the warm sun or taste a delicious dessert.
- Come up with a simple mantra that you connect with and repeat it whenever you feel disconnected from your self worth. This can be something as short as “I am loved, I am important, I am valuable,” or something more complex that speaks to you.
Our worth is inherent, but recognizing it is a practice that takes attentiveness and commitment. It’s vital as a healthy diet or an exercise routine because our self worth is as much a part of us as our physical bodies. By choosing to engage with our worth every day, we can start to build our relationship with our own worthiness until we no longer feel the need to validate it with external sources. I sincerely hope that one of these tips helps you recognize your own worth even when it’s hard, because I promise you are precious, valuable, and loved.