How often do you hear self-worth these days? I read about it in books and blogs and social media pages, I hear it in podcasts, clips and even in general conversation. A lot of this is focused on the “positive” elements of someone, and this is emphasised and hugely reinforced in social media. This is problematic. Let me explain why.
Firstly, I need to dig into what self-worth is.
The sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.
In its very definition it is about value. With an object we purchase its value is dependent on what it has to offer AND the needs it doesn’t meet e.g. a cheaper version will not last as long hence it is cheaper. So to our own value takes into account our internal assets AND our flaws. Yes…our flaws too! Those with high self-worth know their weaknesses, they don’t think, or pretend to think they are perfect. They acknowledge their flaws, and further they do something about them.
If you are only focusing on the strengths of yourself, are you ignoring parts of yourself? Are you ignoring them because you don’t like them, or because you feel ‘less than’ because of them? This will mean that when something occurs in life that forces you to be confronted with a personal flaw your self-worth drops. If you own ALL that you are, your self-worth will not fluctuate with external events, it may just be the reminder you needed to work more into that space.
This is the issue with a lot of what you see on social media. By only presenting the ‘positives’ of ourselves and claiming we love this about ourself, and so we are showing our self-worth, we are missing a huge part of the equation.
As a younger person I always had a firm grasp on the first part of self-worth. I was always able to list my strengths and my weaknesses easily. I had no problem acknowledging what I excelled in, what I was decent at, and what I really struggled with or needed to work on.
- I have great ideas, but I struggle to see an idea right through to completion.
- I am very reflective but can over-analyse.
- I am a passionate person, but I can be too narrow minded in the pursuit of something.
- I am empathetic, and I can take things too personally.
- And I can’t sing to save myself! I got a certificate in primary school saying “Sings well in groups” Even as a ten year old I understood what my teacher was telling me and thought it was amusing, because I totally agreed!
This doesn’t make me feel exposed, or ‘less than’ or weak by having areas of limited capability, and it rarely has. In this way I have always had strong self-worth. However, a few mistakes I have made in life, some pretty big, led me to question my own self-worth. I couldn’t understand why, as I knew myself well, I accepted my flaws as part of me. However, I was only accepting those flaws that I thought were the “ok” ones, you know the examples you give in interviews “I am too passionate,” “I am not very good at excel.” I was not so kind about the flaws that caused me hurt, and that I felt were not deemed to be loveable traits by societal norms.
Because I was not acknowledging ALL of me, I was also not working on these aspects of myself. You can’t work on something you don’t acknowledge to be an issue, or even be part of you. So I had to get honest with myself. I could no longer deny these parts of me, or those pieces of my story. And I had to get to work…on myself. It is all well and good to accept your whole self, but if you leave it at that, and let those pieces cause self-harm you can start to question your own worth – did I set myself up for this? If I can’t improve myself what can I add to the world?
Once I really started to work on those weaknesses (except the singing, I just couldn’t subject someone to that kind of pain) I really felt complete in my self-worth. This is not a tick box exercise, and some of these areas take a regular concerted effort, while others will continue to fill my journals up for life as I improve, grow and change in those areas. The point is, my self-worth no longer bottoms out when shit hits the fan, I just have to clean the fan!
Mel H x