Dr. Stefanie Tweedly
Connecting to Your Worth
Feeling not good enough and/or worthless are unfortunately all too common. There are a variety of contributing factors that may come together to produce this sense of reduced self-worth. While the specific contributing factors will influence the way reduced self-worth is addressed and healed, there is one thing that stands true in this healing overall: you are already good enough and you are already worthwhile.
Feeling not good enough and/or worthless are unfortunately all too common. There are a variety of contributing factors that may come together to produce this sense of, what we’ll simplify by terming, reduced self-worth. It may be a symptom of depression or anxiety, a result of trauma, a product of abuse or neglect at any point in life, a reaction to perceived failures, or due to the message being communicated overtly or covertly over the course of time, among other things. While the specific contributing factors will influence the way reduced self-worth is addressed and healed, there is one thing that stands true in this healing overall: you are already good enough and you are already worthwhile.
You may ask yourself how I could possibly make such bold statements; I have never met you and even if I had, chances are high that I don’t know all your deepest, darkest secrets. The answer to this encompasses a couple of things. First, being worthwhile does not mean being perfect and mistake-free. We can be our beautifully flawed human selves and still be good enough, still be worthwhile. Second, each of us inherently has worth. We are born worthwhile, just as we are born with a tendency toward growth, both physically and mentally. Additionally, we each have the ability to access, or connect, to this worth. Once connected, we feel and experience our worth. Unfortunately, many of us lose our connection to our worth, resulting in feelings of reduced self-worth. This experience is not a result of losing our worth, or worse, never having had worth to begin with. Instead, this experience is a loss of connection to our worth either partly or completely; resulting in feelings of reduced self-worth. So, we are left with a “good news/bad news” situation. The good news: you are worthwhile; the so-called bad news: even if you find this easy to accept, you will likely have to work to reestablish connection to your worth in order to start feeling worthwhile.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to begin to reconnect to your inherent worth, to feel it. This list is by no means exhaustive; rather it’s an introduction to a couple of tools to help you get started.
Gratitude – Generally, research has supported that gratitude has many benefits, including increased feelings of self-worth. Gratitude can be helpful in several different forms, some of which will be more accessible at first. One form is purposefully and mindfully expressing gratitude for things and people in your life. While this is external to you, it is much easier than some of the other forms, sets you up in a positive way in general, and offers a foundation for something to give yourself credit for. Another form is expressing gratitude for your actions in certain situations, accomplishments (big, as well as small), and traits/characteristics. This may be more difficult in the beginning and you may notice yourself beginning to beat yourself up; however, you are trying and that effort is important and worthwhile…something worth expressing gratitude to yourself for doing.
Self-care – We will generally define self-care as noticing and honoring your needs. Sometimes that means putting effort into making sure you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, showering, etc. It may be beginning a meditation practice, doing a little something special for yourself (such as taking a warm bubble bath or going for a walk on the beach), or doing something big (such as taking a vacation). Overall, it is about insight; stepping back and turning within and recognizing where you are, how you are, and what you need. As you are engaging in self-care, you are helping yourself connect to your worth.
Assertiveness – Assertiveness is communicating your boundaries and needs to others in a healthy, not aggressive nor passive, way. This means saying no when you feel you need. This is telling someone that is crossing your boundaries, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to stop doing so. This is communicating your needs to another. While we do balance the needs of others and our own needs, those experiencing reduced self-worth often feel they don’t deserve to have their needs met, resulting in lack of expression of needs and communicating to one’s self they are not worthwhile. As is suggested this is a vicious cycle, so when we begin to practice assertiveness, we begin to break out of this cycle and beginning to connect to our worth.
Self- compassion – Self-compassion is a practice of being empathetic, supportive, and encouraging to one’s self. Remind yourself that you are human; we will make mistakes, we will get derailed, we will have setbacks. What is important is that we work to identify these things and use them to help use move toward better being.
Recognize that your disconnection from your worth has likely been reinforced in many different ways for years, so it will take time and effort to reestablish that connection, to feel your worth. Moving toward better being, in all the ways we do this, is a complicated process comprised of interrelated pieces. Every “little” effort you put in, is a valuable and meaningful part of healing and reconnection to your worth.