Many of us have moments when we think ‘if only I could achieve that career goal’, or ‘look a certain way’ or ‘be as funny as my friend’ then I would be a better, more worthwhile and happier person.
Modern society has led many of us to have high expectations and beliefs about what our achievements, appearance, and relationships should be like. Our self-worth can then become entangled with, and measured against, these long lists of expected achievements and then, when we fall short of reaching them, our view of ourselves becomes lower and lower. Many people struggle with low self-worth so it’s important to take some time to acknowledge what traps we might be falling into, what healthy self-esteem looks like and what steps we can take to develop a more balanced self-view.
The comparison game can often get us into trouble:
Wherever we are, there will always be someone who is smarter, taller, funnier etc., than us or at least we perceive them to be that way. However, on the other hand there will also always be people less fortunate than us. Therefore, learning to be more flexible with our expectations of ourselves helps us value our self-worth and not get pulled into day to day comparisons with the people around us. For example:
- Observation – I’m not as creative as some people I know
- Diminishing belief – And I should be as creative as they are
- Flexible belief – But I don’t have to be as creative as they are. Some people have the gift of being creative and artistic. That’s their good fortune. There is no reason that I must be that way.
- Everyone has their own strengths and skills to bring into the mix but also their own struggles.
Feeling like we constantly need to prove our self-worth through achievements:
Seeing our base level as essentially worthless and something that needs to be built upon through achievements and success.
- Just being human is enough to respect and value ourselves and others, and our self-worth shouldn’t be contingent on anything. Acknowledging the very fact, we are human, means we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and our successes and failures come and go and should not be allowed to define us. We all have something to bring to the table and the fact we are imperfect is something we all have in common.
- It’s still important to strive for important goals, however don’t allow you self-acceptance to be contingent on achieving them.
- What do you need to learn to accept about yourself?
Constant need for approval and validation from others:
- Issues will often arise when our abilities to accept ourselves depends on the way that other people respond to and accept us.
- Unfortunately, we cannot be all things to all people, there will always be people we click with and those we don’t. Variety is the spice of life.
Weighing ourselves down with negative labels:
- When we mess up we often give ourselves the general label ‘I’m an idiot’. However, a key requirement for healthy self-worth is the ability to separate the things that you do from the person you are.
- Therefore, try and be more specific i.e. instead of ‘I’m a failure’, try ‘I didn’t achieve some of my career goals’.
Healthy self-esteem and self-worth really comes down to thinking about ourselves in a more balanced way where we accept our weaknesses, determine what we can realistically improve on but then ensure that we acknowledge and celebrate our strengths and successes.
There’s only one perfectly imperfect you!