It can be difficult sometimes in this day and age of glamorous celebrities and social media to maintain a positive sense of self worth. Complete strangers who seem to have it all, the perfect job, a house that always seems to be clean no matter what, well-behaved children, you name it. I’ve found myself lately reflecting on this exact subject, as I’m currently taking a break from Instagram for this exact reason: trying to keep up with the Jones. Why do we as humans strive to want what we think someone else has?
The Struggle to be Perfect
I think a lot of my self worth steams from trying to have everything perfect all the time. Right around the time I hit kindergarten, my mom had my brother and sister, a newborn set of twins. I was at the ripe age where I was starting to venture off into the world without my mom for the first time, and the new additions to the household required a lot of her attention, rightfully so. As a kid, I felt a sense of responsibility to not only take care of myself, but to make sure everything was in order at all times. I can’t exactly say where that comes from because my parents never pushed me for the perfect grades or to excel. This could have been the early stages of when my anxiety was starting to develop.
Are you a Perfectionist?
According to an article written by Elizabeth Lombardo Ph.D. in Psychology Today, here are some signs that you could be a perfectionist.
- Think in all or nothing terms – This is one I struggle with a lot. If I have a bad day at work, work is always bad. If someone is rude to me, they are a rude person without me considering that maybe they are overwhelmed or just having a bad day. This is seeing life in either black or white without seeing the possibilities in the middle.
- Think, and then act in extremes – This is totally me when it comes to money. I wore an old shirt to work, my coworkers must think I have no clothes, I’ll go buy a new shirt. This is just a made up situation, but my rationale when it comes to making purchases 9 times out of 10 results from acting in extremes.
- Rarely delegate tasks – Yup, that’s me.
- Demanding standards of yourself and others – This is what brought me to writing this blog post. If I don’t feel that I am living up to the impossible high level of standards I set for myself, my self worth takes a hit.
- Use the word should a lot – I really should use that word less often.
- Self-confidence depends on what you accomplish and how others react to you – This one hits home for me. Especially when it comes to comparing my life, successes and perceived failures to complete strangers. No matter what I accomplish, I feel like a failure if I feel someone else has accomplished more.
- Fixate on something you messed up – I’ll think about that shit for days.
- Avoid situations you think you might not excel – Passing up on applying for jobs because I feel like I am not good enough? Check.
The Struggle to Want What Others Have
In this day and age of “social” media, the lack of actual social connections and seeing how perfect everyone else’s life seems to be can cause anxiety.
Social media can be the perfect platform for sharing your story. That’s the beauty, you can choose what you want to share. Of course any success or awesome thing that happens in our lives, we want to shout it out from the rooftops. What better way than to share it with the social media world?
What that also means is what you see online is just a snapshot in time. It’s the highlight reel. But when you see someone who you think has what you want, it can cause anxiety or low self worth.
I also struggle in this area when it comes to the workplace. I see other getting promoted to manager positions, and I find myself wanting that.
Take a Self Worth Inventory
Improving your self worth does not happen overnight. It’s a life long commitment to yourself that’s worth the effort. You will come in contact everyday with things that will impact your sense of worth. Building a practice will help you be prepared when the little voice in your head starts spewing nonsense.
Start by writing down a list of your strengths. Take your judgements out of the equation, and write down what you excel at. Has someone recently complemented you on your presentation skills? Write that down. If you find it hard to write these strengths yourself, ask your friends and loved ones what they think. They will be more likely to be honest with you, than you are with yourself.
Once you have a list of 10 strengths, hang that bad boy loud and proud. Make yourself a few lists where you can see it daily. This is your daily reminder that you are a Rockstar, and you do have purpose.
Start a Mindfulness Practice
Self worth starts with being aware of your thoughts. Are you feeding it good, positive vibes? or are you thinking about how much you suck because you are not a millionaire yet?
Since starting a meditation practice, I pay closer attention to the thoughts that feed my anxiety. That also helps me to realize when I am entertaining thoughts that are not productive to my self worth. This is a time I set aside for myself everyday. Just like exercise is to weight loss, mindfulness is to strengthening your inner voice.
Start by doing 3 minutes a day. I use the Calm app for the body scan meditation. The beauty of Calm is you can meditate anywhere you need to.
As you progress in your practice, start writing down negative thoughts or worries. Keep a small journal or notebook that your carry close to you at all times. Write down the negative thoughts, and set aside a time towards the end of the day to revisit those thoughts. For every negative thought you wrote, write a positive. So say you wrote down “I missed my deadline, I’m such a failure”. Turn that into “I missed my deadline, but my boss wasn’t mad. I can take this as an opportunity to improve my time management skills”. In the moment it’s easy to go straight to the negative, but when you start practicing mindfulness and revisit these thoughts away from the situation, you can see the situation for what it truly was.
Check Your Circle
A lot of your self worth is dependent how you view yourself, but the way others behave towards you can play a role as well. I had a former boss who always dismissed my ideas, told me my work looked like crap, and was all around a seriously negativity influence in my life. That experience carried on with me to my next job, as I thought everything I was doing was wrong. My new employers actually tell me I’m doing great work often. While I don’t depend on the reassurance to judge my performance, it helps to release the negative emotions from my past employer.
Try to limit your interactions with those who have a negative impact on your self worth. If it’s an employer, start that job search. If it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend, be open with them about how you feel about their behavior. Not only will setting boundaries show that you value your self worth, it might also assist in improving the quality of your relationship as well.
This can also apply to the media you consume. Are you following positive influences on Instagram? or people who always make you feel inadequate or down? Make sure you are follow people who truly provide value to your growth.
Focus on Your Journey
There’s always going to be one person who you think has more than you. Doesn’t mean they are happier.
You diminish your own light by comparing yourself to someone else. We are all unique with our own skills and gifts that we bring to the world. We all have a different story to tell. To really work on bringing up your sense of self worth, stop comparing your life to what you see on Facebook or television. Limit your consumption of social media or tv to an hour a day. Trust me, this one is gonna be hard. But when you start to take the focus off of how amazing other people’s lives may seem, and put the focus on your journey, you will start to truly see your worth.
Be happy for others, but also make sure to celebrate your accomplishments as well. Because you are worth it.
What do you do to increase your sense of self worth? What do you avoid?
Lombardo, Ph.D, Elizabeth. “9 Signs That You Might Be a Perfectionist.”Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 Nov. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/better-perfect/201611/9-signs-you-might-be-perfectionist.