This is a beautiful affirmation. It is ironic that it took someone who was physically blind to truly see what is important in life. Sadly, we live in a world where the opposite is believed to be the truth–that things seen are what counts and things unseen do not even exist. We rely solely on the tangible. Yes, scientific proof is valuable, but it is not always possible. After all, how do you prove your inherent worth when it is a concept, like love, that cannot be quantified or measured? Self-worth cannot be seen, heard, smelled, or tasted. Yet, like love, it can be felt, experienced, and lived. Understanding our inherent self-worth is key to living a healthy, enriched life.
What is self-worth, and how is it defined? Our society seems to measure us by our awards: the house we live in, the car we drive, the jobs we have, and even the clothes we wear. We are told the lie that our worth depends on what we accumulate or produce. This is not self-worth. The term for such an attitude would be more correctly defined as personal accomplishment. The idea that one’s achievements define one’s worth actually flies in the face of all logic. Self-worth is inherent and unconditional. In no way, shape, or form is it determined by measurable accomplishments. It is not a “because …, therefore…” equation.
Because I work primarily with victims of trauma and abuse, I have heard countless renditions of the “damaged goods” syndrome. Trauma victims often adopt the idea that they are worthless in order to make sense of the horrible thing that happened to them. “I must have had no self-worth or else my perpetrator would not have wanted to abuse me,” they often say. The flip side of this belief is, “Because I was abused, I now have no self-worth.”
One does not have to be an abuse survivor, however, to feel a lack of self-worth. Many clients who have not been abused buy into the lie that their level of accumulation or production determines their level of self-worth. They believe that they will be someone of worth when they make their first million, drive that dream car, or purchase their first pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. It is important to remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” Material objects are of no significance. Authentic, selfless relationshipships are of utmost importance. This includes a relationship with yourself.
I often use an exercise with clients who question their worth because they feel unaccomplished. I hand them a parenting magazine and ask them to tear out pictures of babies to whom they feel drawn. I instruct the client to lay the pictures out in front of them and divide the babies into two groups: those with self-worth and those without. Unsurprisingly, I usually get the “you are crazy” look. The client replies that all the babies have self-worth. At this point, my clients are forced to concede that self-worth is not earned by what one produces or accomplishes; after all, babies cannot accomplish anything without the help of a caregiver. A baby is of worth simply because he/she is a person–a divine being.
No doubt you have seen a butterfly float by on a peaceful summer day. Did it occur to you in that moment that the butterfly was once a mere caterpillar? Though not so beautiful and
graceful yet, a caterpillar still has the inherent ability to become the butterfly. It does not have to earn the right to become a butterfly based on some level of performance or accomplishment. Even if the caterpillar itself does not know or believe that there is a butterfly inside, the butterfly is still there just waiting to develop.
It is the same with you. You were born with self-worth. Whether you believe it or not, it is inherently within you. Self-worth is not achieved by a right of passage, like a baptism or bar mitzvah. It is not something gained when you receive the approval of others or attain some worldly possession. It is not possible to surgically open your body and remove your self-worth. It is woven through every fiber of your being. Like a baby, you are of worth simply because you are a person–a divine being.
Although your self-worth exists no matter what you accomplish or how you have been victimised, you do need the right environment to recognize and appreciate it. This might mean stepping away from toxic relationships. It might mean challenging your self-deprecating thoughts. It might mean believing in yourself and not engaging in any acts of self-abuse or harm. It definitely means loving and accepting yourself unconditionally just as you are.
Although everyone has inherent self-worth, it can be challenging to feel it personally. You can tell yourself that you have value, but it can be more difficult to truly believe it. Discovering your own self-worth is a personal journey everyone takes. This path to self-discovery takes time and patience. Many things can be done to help you feel your own self-worth. The activities and related readings at the end of this chapter will help. In addition, many strategies taught by Empowered Life Solutions can help you recognize your own self- worth. As you learn to live in the present moment, ignore mind chatter that says you’re not good enough, and realize you are in charge of the choices you make, your self-worth will naturally improve as you begin to feel more empowered in your life.
It is time to stop believing the lie that your worth is conditional. Your worth is unconditional and will always be, just because.