For many of us, our sense of self-worth is based on external factors. For instance, we might think about what other people think of us. If they like us, we can feel worthy. If they don’t, we feel bad about ourselves or think something is wrong with us. Or we may compare ourselves to others in terms of looks, success or money, and if we are doing better than them then we can feel worthy.
But one of the gifts of training mental strength is that it helps us clearly see that external factors are not true measures of our self-worth.
In order to find our self-worth in a true and lasting way, we need to stop looking outside of ourselves and cultivate it from within.
Read or listen on to learn the two keys to cultivating true, lasting and stable self-worth.
So often we look outside of ourselves to find feelings of validation, approval and worthiness.
Perhaps we base our sense of self-worth on our behaviour. We might feel that if we do things that are ‘good’ and never ‘bad’, then we can feel ok about ourselves. However, if we ever stray outside of the behaviours we feel are correct then we fall apart and feel that we ourselves are bad. It crushes our self-esteem.
But is our worthiness really in our behaviour?
Another place we often go to assess our self-worth is to compare ourselves to other people. If we believe we are less good-looking, less wealthy or less successful we may feel unworthy or inadequate, or, if we feel that we are better than them in some way, then we may feel superior.
But is our worthiness based on how we compare to other human beings?
Perhaps, we can feel good about ourselves as long as other people approve of us. When we get approval, compliments or a certain number of likes on social media, then we can finally feel like we are enough.
But is our worthiness in what other people think of us?
The reality is that trying to find a sense of worthiness through all of these strategies is both artificial and unstable. They leave you at the mercy of external and ever-changing conditions. Too often, we use these criteria to measure our self-worth and then end up feeling like we’ve fallen short. We’re left feeling inadequate, disconnected, and stuck in cycles of approval-seeking.
Mental strength training cultivates true self-worth
One of the gifts of training mental strength is that it helps us clearly see that external factors are not true measures of our self-worth.
In order to find it in a true and lasting way, we need to stop looking outside of ourselves and cultivate it from within.
One of the ways we can do that is by developing the ability to accept and love ourselves exactly as we are – without condition. And to remind ourselves of the truth that I believe we all know deep down – that we are inherently worthy.
When we start to see this clearly and practice self-acceptance and self-love as a way of being, we cultivate true, lasting and stable self-worth.
Then we can stop basing our self-worth on what other people think of us, how much we weigh, what we wear or what car we drive. We learn to gradually let go of worrying so much about all of that and accept who we are, as we are. Flaws and all.
Worthiness is not about improving; it’s about unwinding from the thoughts that tell us we’re not enough. If we learn to let go of those thoughts, we touch down on a place of natural wholeness, calm and contentment within ourselves.
It’s such a profound relief when we can learn to simply accept ourselves as we are and let ourselves be.
Self-acceptance vs. self-improvement
Practicing self-love and self-acceptance doesn’t mean we’re never going to do anything to improve our lives. It simply means unwinding from the stories that tell us we need to be better. This allows us to live our lives and make our choices from a place of confidence, fullness and self-love. So, we do things from a mindset of love and wholeness rather than from a mindset of deficiency.
Training in self-acceptance and self-love changes the game and turns this pattern of seeking our worth from outside ourselves on its head.
So, here are two ways to start to cultivate true, lasting self-worth:
- Start practising mindfulness, even if it’s just five minutes a day. It will help you unhook from the thoughts and mental habits that pull you into feelings of unworthiness and deficiency.
- Practice radical self-acceptance in the times you judge yourself, beat yourself up, put yourself down or compare yourself to someone else and feel inadequate. Each time you get caught up in self-judgement, comparing or approval-seeking, switch your mental focus to practising active self-acceptance and self-love instead.
Remind yourself of your inherent worthiness. Try accepting your good qualities as well as your flaws and be kind and compassionate towards yourself.
Use the tool compassionate self-talk
As an aid to self acceptance, try deliberately speaking to yourself mentally in a warm and kind way, like a friendly encouraging coach instead of a harsh inner critic. Every time the voice of the inner critic pipes us (and it will), try switching the focus back again and again to warmth, kindness and support. Keep patiently training your mind to be more self-accepting and it will eventually become second nature.
It may take some time to become more self-accepting but it’s worth the investment, because in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn: “If you stop trying to make yourself more than you are, out of fear that you are less than you are, whomever you really are will be a lot lighter and happier and easier to live with, too.”
So the invitation for this week is to practice cultivating true self-worth and see how it affects your body, mind and life. All the best with the practice and if you have any questions or comments drop me a line on social media.
All the best with it. Thank you your practice. Take care and stay strong.
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