You just can’t get it together can you? It’s only five loads of laundry, grocery shopping, meeting with clients, dinner and hockey practice, what’s the big deal? You really could have done more. Why didn’t you get the vacuuming done? You have been saying for the past four days you were going to clean out the car. If you just schedule better you can spend more time in with your kids and husband. Today has been one of those days for me. These are literally the conversations I have with myself. It has been a pretty overwhelming week. Life sure has a way of piling up doesn’t it? We can try our best to micro manage and schedule it, but then like some sort of fungus it grows in places we forget to check and it swallows us up. It takes one missed appointment, one flat tire, one forgotten birthday or work deadline and bam we feel like we are somehow failing. It almost seems that in a blink of an eye the laundry went from neatly folded in the drawers to lil’ Suzie is wearing her last clean shirt. I swear I just left the grocery store and now every person in this house is starving. Someone please tell me where all the food went?
I am indeed my own worst enemy. I am also my own biggest cheerleader. Ask for help? No way! That leaves me feeling vulnerable, weak and incapable. Instead I push myself to unreasonable limits, collapsing into bed leaving nothing for me by the end of the day. Did I accomplish everything? No, and I was filled with guilt for not doing so. Did I ask for that help I so desperately needed? No, instead I felt those twinges of resentment that those people who surround me cannot magically read my mind and know when to step in like some type of modern day super hero.
I know some of you are reading this and can relate. Others may think it sounds much like someone you know or love. So, why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we demand so much of ourselves yet think so little? Where is our voice when we need it the most?
In my forty something years I have worked hard on many things. Some took much longer than others. It took me twenty-four years to discover one should not bite their own nails. Much to my hairdressers joy, I just stopped cutting my own bangs six months ago. What can I say, mom’s are busy people. Unfortunately, it took me far too long to realize my worth. Each of us enter this world believing we are beautiful humans capable of anything, yet many of us die believing we are worthless. How does that happen?
There are eight common reasons people lose their self-worth, some people may have only experienced one and some may have experienced many.
Uninvolved/Negligent Parents. In many cases, and particularly when we’re young, our feelings about ourselves are heavily influenced by how others feel about and treat us – especially our parents or guardians. Everyone deserves a loving family, but some young people have the misfortune of not getting adequate support at home. Parents or guardians with mental health issues, substance abuse issues or other challenges may not be able to provide their children with the care, guidance and attention they need and deserve. This can cause significant self-esteem problems for young people, as those who are supposed to care for them most may not seem to.
Negative Peers. Just as the way we’re treated by parents or guardians can greatly influence our self-esteem, so can the way we’re treated by peers. Being part of a social group that brings you down – by not respecting you, by pressuring you to do things you’re not comfortable with, by not valuing your thoughts and feelings, etc. – can cause you to feel like something is wrong with you, or that the only way for you to be liked is to do what others want and not listen to your own heart and mind. This is very damaging to how you see yourself.
Trauma. Abuse – whether physical, emotional, sexual or a combination of these – often causes feelings of shame and even guilt. A person may feel that he or she did something to deserve the abuse, that he or she was not worthy of the respect, love and care of the abuser. People who have suffered abuse may have a significant amount of anxiety and depression associated with the event as well, which can interfere with a person’s ability to lead a fulfilling life.
Body image is a huge factor in young people’s self-esteem, especially that of young women. From the moment we’re born, we’re surrounded by unrealistic images of what women should look like, what the “ideal” body type is. Women’s bodies are constantly objectified in the media, making it seem as though their bodies exist for others to look at, touch, use, etc. When puberty comes around and our bodies start to change, they don’t change into what we see on magazine covers or in the media. This can lead to feeling unattractive and inadequate, on top of the profound dis-empowerment that comes with seeing your body as an object for others to behold.
Negative Thought Patterns. When you get used to feeling, thinking and talking about yourself in a particular way, it becomes habit. You’ve probably heard of muscle memory – once you’ve performed a certain physical activity like riding a bike over and over again, your brain automatically signals your muscles to do whatever that activity requires – keeping you balanced on the seat, for example. Your thoughts and feelings actually work in the same way sometimes. If you have often felt that you’re worthless or inferior, if you constantly think negative thoughts and say negative things about yourself, then you’re likely to go on feeling and thinking the same way unless you break the cycle by challenging your negative thoughts and feelings about yourself. Just as our muscle memory can learn the wrong way to perform a physical activity, our thought and feeling memories can learn an inaccurate pattern.
Like all of you, I entered this world filled with hope, worth and value. Along the way those were taken from me. There are times when our worth is stolen and we are fully aware. There are times we may not be aware because we are simply too young. Becoming more self-aware and setting firm boundaries in your life can prevent that from happening. I am glad that I started practicing this in my life. Because I unfortunately lost so much of my self-worth as a child and again as a young adult, (it took me a while to learn that lesson) I struggled a lot with rebuilding it. It is true what they say, the brain is a memory muscle. We have to retrain it daily. Take care of the body, take care of the mind. Like I said, this has not been one of my best days, but guess what? We need to celebrate those too because they make up who and what we are. Not all of our days will go perfectly, life is beautiful and you are perfectly imperfect. ❤
When you lose your worth, your brain is use to hearing self-doubt regularly. It hears all the negative comments wondering if you are good enough, if you can handle anything, what your purpose is. You either didn’t have those positive influences feeding your brain or you had too many negative ones filling it. Now is the time to fill it up with the great ones you need to hear. Retrain your brain with something fantastic about YOU every single day, many times a day. This has been the biggest gift I ever gave myself. Reminding that little girl that she mattered, that she was worthy of so much love. I tell her that her purpose today is to smile and laugh, to live life and enjoy every day. On the days that I want to pull the blankets over my head I whisper to her that those days are ok, to eat a chocolate bar and watch a sappy movie. That she is awesome even on those days. On days when I am overwhelmed with guilt about not accomplishing enough, I stop, look and listen. I quiet my thoughts, I take a look around at anything that makes me feel grateful in that moment and I listen to all the positive thoughts start flooding my heart and soul. The laundry can wait, ask for help with anything you need because people can’t read your mind 🙂 and spend all of that energy doing things that make you giggle, laugh and smile with the people you love.
Start today by retraining your brain and give yourself the gift of worth. ❤