It’s the New Year and everywhere you look, Facebook, TV commercials, the cover of Cosmo, you can’t escape the numerous “New Year, New You” messages.
It’s as if your “Old You” is lacking in pretty much every life goal and personality department imaginable.
Nutritional “cleansing” programs are beginning, weight loss challenges are ramping up, and gyms see an all time high in attendance. For at least the first 2 weeks of the year.
The top Resolutions typically deal with what you put in your body (eat less sugar; quit drinking; eat healthier; quit smoking), your bodily output (workout…hard), and something or other to do with your money (spend less, save more).
All good things, to be sure! Who doesn’t want to look good, feel good, and then have the cash to strut the bikini body around a pool at some lush Cancun resort? I know I’d be pretty down with that!
There’s a very real struggle where changes and new rhythms are concerned. The plate is full, the clock is ticking, and goals need to be checked off.
You start the year off with some lofty goals and grand intentions but then lose momentum and fall into old patterns.
It can be a devil of a time trying to break out of those old rhythms.
Despite your best intentions, why is it so tough to make changes with real sticking power?
The Answer: WORTHINESS.
The problem isn’t with a lack of intentions or planning. At the gooey center of it all, deep down in the middle of all of us is the question, “Am I worth it?”
The problem is two-fold: 1) it’s far easier to view ourselves in a negative light versus a positive one, and 2) we heavily count on external criteria to dictate our worth rather than allowing our internal reliance to guide our decisions.
Focusing On Weaknesses Over Strengths
A healthy, positive self-esteem seems hard to come by these days. Do you fear being confident will read to those around you as arrogance, or do you just not know what you’re good at anymore?
Test it out. Grab a piece of paper and fold it in half; on one half list your strengths, the other your weaknesses. Which side fills up faster?
Our society is acutely focused on reminding us of what is wrong with us as individuals. We often experience this in our family of origin, throughout academia and workplace culture, followed by continued validation from social media and media outlets of all kinds. Magazine covers tell us we don’t have the right body. Work reminds us what we do wrong and rarely focuses on what we do right. Teachers and parents are more likely to focus on weak grades, and how we can improve them, rather than celebrating and encouraging strengths, skills, and areas of potential greatness. Not everyone is wired for a keen eye of mathematical detail, nor is everyone meant to be artists, teachers, or compassionate caregivers.
In the highly illuminating book, StrengthFinder2.0, by Tom Rath, based on over 50 years of research by Donald Clifton, Ph.D, the Father of Strength-Based Psychology, it’s a recognized phenomenon that people gain more growth potential when they invest in the development of their strengths rather than fixing their weaknesses. Strength over deficiency wins the day.
You need to start working with what’s right with yourself. Like Rath states in StrengthFinder, “from the cradle to the cubicle to the casket, we devote more time to our shortcomings that to our strengths”.
How can you leverage the positive parts of yourself when it comes to making sustainable changes in your life, as well as remind and encourage yourself that, yes indeed, you are worth it?
It’s simple actually. Using the opportunity to develop your strengths is more important to success than any external criteria you can hold your success up to. Your strengths trump your title, your salary, your role, or your pant size. Focusing on what is positive and good about you leads to more confidence, direction, hope, kindness and compassion toward others. In essence, focusing on your positives is the life’s blood of healthy, positive self-esteem.
Don’t dwell on what is broken. Acknowledge your weaknesses and use your strengths to creatively grow and contribute to the world. You are definitely worth it to be more of you!
Relying on External Validation Over Internal Reliance
We live in a culture heavily reliant on Social Media. Seems society plays a major role when it comes to how we feel about ourselves. Do we fall into a category that the prevailing culture deems worthy? It’s easy to fall into the trap of editing your life into a highlight reel to fit into the tidy constructs your social circles dictate. Don’t rock the boat! Don’t break out, and wait for the validation of a job well done from likes, comments, and followers. I personally have felt anxiety when a post “underperformed” and I didn’t receive the external validation I subconsciously was looking for.
A study conducted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that when Facebook interaction increased, self-esteem decreased, and women who used Facebook where less satisfied, happy and content with their lives.
Comparison is a bitch.
A sign of a positive, healthy sense of self-worth is when you are able to look inside, see how you live your life and make decisions, and feel contentment because you live according to your personal beliefs and values. You walk your talk because you operate from a place of honoring what matters most to you.
A negative sense of self-worth is usually predicated by a strong need for validation from outside sources. You need the world to tell you you are doing a good job and have a great life. Might be true, but the validation isn’t an inside job.
Society is bombarded by messages of not being “good enough”: not thin enough; fit enough; not successful enough. You have the wrong house; the wrong relationship; your kids are all sorts of wrong and you suck at being a parent.
These messages are great for advertising and swaying you to buy something, but does zero for your sense of self-esteem because you always feel less than. You simply don’t measure up. These often times unrealistic expectations also fuel a sense of status quo in social groups; If you go with the flow nobody else has to question their own choices. It’s a vicious cycle. These messages, often internalized on a subconscious level, can really make you feel like a loser who isn’t worth it.
The need for external validation over internal reliance is a sure-fire way to chip away a person’s sense of self-worth.
Don’t get me wrong I understand the need for validation from time to time; one of my primary Love Languages is Words of Affirmation. Sometimes I doubt myself and having trusted, good-willed friends or family members remind me of my strengths and successes can help pull me out of a funk. However, if I don’t operate from the place inside where I truly believe in my strengths and abilities, those warm, fuzzy validations are fleeting.
Key points: 1) trust in self 2) only rely on trusted, good-willed souls. Not random people. Remember: Social Media “friends” are rarely more than old acquaintances. 3) operate from a place where you honor and protect the things that are most important to you. You may cause other people discomfort. It’s okay. Really. You are worth it.
You are Worth It. Rinse. Repeat as Needed
I can’t say it enough; you are worth it; your strengths, your weaknesses, your successes and your broken places!
I trust you are a good-willed individual and I believe you deserve the desires of your heart, whatever they may be.
As we embark on the next year please remember that your worth is more than what someone else says or how they treat you. You are more than a message on a magazine cover. You are not a statistic. Move from the place in your heart that honors and protects what you hold most dear and important. Everything else can fall away.
Begin with the first step toward your dream today. Cherish it. You are worth it. You owe it to yourself to believe it, and the rest of us are really looking forward to meeting you, helping you, and walking with you. The world needs more people who believe in the power, the goodness, the strength, and the worthiness of everyone around us.
It’s an inside job, and it begins with you.