Many elements of this story are shocking, but what got to me was her mother’s account of their relationship. When her daughter wanted to come for a visit to Canada, her partner said he wouldn’t allow it unless ‘she gets to the weight of 55 kg’.
Tying up our self-worth with external successes or failures is not the best idea anyway. But tying it with someone else’s view of achievement is a disaster in waiting.
Our self-worth, inner strength, or emotional resilience are not just fluffy words or theories. They are core life skills, lack of which might result in more than unhappiness and missed career opportunities, but even death.
For the record, I don’t blame or judge this girl for forgetting her self-worth. Spending a lot of time around abusive or selfish people can chip away the strongest defenses. I did not experience abuse like that first hand. But I know what impact on self-esteem a selfish partner can have. A not-so-nice comment here or there about your looks or taste. Being forgotten or disrespected daily. Small actions add up and soon enough you start questioning everything you are or you’re not.
But there is no need to leave your emotional strength for others to define. You can boost your self-worth from daily actions in just under 5 minutes!
1. Untangle Your Self-worth From Any Conditions or PeopleViola Davis, in her acceptance speech during Golden Globe Awards, said:
‘There is no pre-requisite of worthiness. You are born worthy’.
This is an especially good reminder for women. So often we struggle to accept that there are no circumstances, people, or achievements that could give or take away our self-worth.
It is easier said than done, of course, so here is one thing to try – remind yourself about it! In your daily journal, in your notebook during the meeting, or a post-it on your mirror write:
I was born worthy. There is no pre-requisite to my worthiness. I am worthy of the best things in life. I am loving and loveable.
Repeat it long enough and it will sink in!
2. Practise Compassion Towards Self
Dr. Kristin Neff s is one of the leading researchers of self-compassion. She notes the 3 core pillars of self-compassion. First, kindness towards self. Second, being mindful of your emotions. Third, common humanity – reminding yourself that you are not alone feeling this pain, that emotional pain is part of being human.
You can find many resources on her website.
But you can start boost your self-worth with another small habit.
When you are feeling bad about yourself, write this:
I love and approve of myself, even though ______________.
Here are a few examples from my own life:
I love and approve of myself, even though my boss criticized me today in front of everyone. I love and approve of myself, even though I lost my temper with a colleague. I love and approve of myself, despite not achieving much today.
Write it down or say at least once per day to feel an immediate impact on your wellbeing.
3. Building On Your Strengths
The previous habits focused on internal actions, but externally focused action can work wonders too!
Try this: Name one thing that you think you can do well and do that thing today.
Then repeat this tomorrow. Start small. Maybe you make a good coffee or you are an excellent minute taker. It doesn’t need to be life-changing, just help you see that you’re actually good at something, and build it from there.
You have many more strengths and talents than you think! Our brain is wired to focus on the negative, so this habit will help you notice what you do right instead. You will retrain your brain towards a more balanced – and positive – view of self.
I prepared a worksheet for the 5-minute routine, you can get it here.