How do you determine your worth? For many of us, it’s a struggle to define our self-worth or value, and if asked we might either go dark or start babbling nonsense. We logically know we have worth, yet we wrangle with feeling our worth. What we know logically doesn’t translate into how we feel inside. And, this wrangling and wrestling can keep us stuck versus stepping out boldly into our lives. So what you ask, can we do to increase our sense of self and self-worth?
My Coaching Session
Yes, coaches have coaches, getting the same support to be curious about our stories from the same co-creative process that benefits our clients. In my coaching session, the topic that I was noodling around on was one of my value or the worth that I placed on myself and my work. I have a very old story that was still simmering below the surface. In my undergraduate program, I have a BFA in photography, I had an interesting story about why I wasn’t going to be a commercial photographer or even share my work. “I don’t want to prostitute my art to a consumer market.” Imagine that with a lot of dramatic art school angst. That was the story that I created.
Fast forward 30 years and in my coaching conversation, I discovered that on some level, this same sentiment was showing up in how I priced my time. I was the commodity, and I didn’t want to sell myself. Besides, what if I was underpriced or overpriced? What if I was overestimating my value or underestimating it? First, this blew my mind that this old story was still rattling around below the surface of my mind. And even more importantly I knew it was impacting how I was showing at times and impacting my confidence.
Confidence is tied to our sense of self-worth.
Like any unexamined limiting belief, this one was very casually impacting how I show up in the world.
Our Stories About Self-Worth
The universal truth is that for all of us, our stories come from the meaning we make from our experiences.
- Past relationships – What we put up with and how we accept and allow others to treat us. Or, how we are socialized to see ourselves and our worth that we buy into without question. These elements combine and are woven into the fabric of self-worth.
- A sense of value as a worker, a leader, a daughter, a friend, or a spouse – In these roles, we may have multiple ways of perceiving ourselves. Seeing ourselves as capable and worthy in one area, only to see ourselves as not worthy in another. You may have multiple areas that you feel confident. So, how do you take that confidence and share it with the areas where you feel less than?
- Self Critical Self Judgments – That inner narrative that you wrestle with that whispers in your ear that you can’t. Why bother, no one cares anyway. So many dreams that end before they even have a chance to become.
- The doubts of “not enough” – This is where the ideas of being good enough are often triggered. Concepts around being perfect, wanting to do it “right.” How many things have you put off, because of the fear of failure or doing it wrong?
- Fears of being an imposter – How can I support you with your inner negative narrative, while I still wrestle with my own? The imposter syndrome flairs and we forget all that we have learned, doubting our value or merit. Living with the fear that if people really knew us, they would see our human fragility as we navigate the same difficult landscapes that they do.
How to Increase Your Self-Worth
As I noodled around with these ideas and stories, what came for me were several ideas. If all our stories are a way of making meaning, then I was at choice to make the meaning of myself that best served me. By bringing the unconscious forward, I could then develop ways of challenging the narrative. Even in considering this idea, I was developing new ways of viewing myself. I determined that I would integrate a new way of being in relationship with my stories. And, I very much wanted to challenge the stories that were limiting me around my value.
- What if value doesn’t exist? – Consider the idea that you determine your value. Value is completely subjective; what is valuable to one person is not to another. And, vice versa, what I find valuable beyond measure might mean nothing to the next person. Simply stated, if value is so subjective, what about yourself are you choosing as your value? Not as a commodity for someone else to determine, rather from that inside space where you acknowledge what you bring into the world. Maybe in demonstrating kindness, or creativity, or whatever it is that you uniquely offer.
- Is it possible that self-worth is a made-up story? – This questions hit me right between the eyes. I know all stories are made up, and I know that they change through time. So I decided it was time to challenge my limiting story: Did I know the story to be 100% true? And, what did I know that challenged the negative narrative?
- Finally, what story of my self-worth do I consciously choose instead? – From the two prior questions, I could begin to craft the story of self-worth that felt true. I was choosing a story of self-worth that felt authentic and aligned with my head, heart, and gut. So, what story will you breathe into for yourself? By choosing the story that resonates with your whole self, your capacity to own it and live into it, increases.
Summing It Up
Each day as you go out in the world, you teach people how to treat you. This often happens when we default to the ideas that other people are the experts on how we need to live, what we should put up with, how to treat us, what we have earned, or not. Just sit with this, you have the power to challenge any idea’s of yourself that don’t fit with the person you want to be or are in the process of becoming.
Your self-worth is determined by no one but you. And, you have, not only the right, but the responsibility to determine for yourself what your value is going to be. Challenging yourself to show up for yourself they way you would a good friend. Allowing yourself to grow into the best self you can create and recognizing that your journey is only part of the equation, the meaning you make is the other. So, if all stories are made up meaning, make yours a good one.
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What aspect of your self-worth is in need of your support?
- How will you challenge the story?
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