My friend’s relationship was about one year old, and she did everything to support her partner with his business. She worked for him from early in the morning until late at night and neglected her own business. He did not appreciate what she did; instead he called her names. When she asked for a Sunday off because she felt exhausted, he called her lazy. Each time she called me she seemed more desperate, and her voice lost energy and life force. I got worried because she did not care for herself and allowed her partner to treat her badly. When I mentioned my concerns, she found many excuses for her partner and his lack of love and respect, he had a difficult childhood, at the beginning of our relationship, he was different, or she said that she was difficult and not easy to handle so he had to treat her badly. Deep inside, she did not see her worth and pleased her partner. She did not value her needs and forgot that she was the a valuable person who matters.
The pattern continued, and her struggle became greater. Months later, she phoned me. This time she said, I deserve that he loves and respects me! She was in tears, yet her voice was firm. I felt relieved. After this insight, they got separated, my friend asked for professional help and started to embrace her self-worth.
I also struggled many years with my self-worth. I grew up in a family environment that was driven by fear, guilt and shame, and, as an adult, I saw myself through a negative lens that told me that I was not good enough and that something was profoundly wrong with me. I allowed others to give me negative labels because I lacked critical awareness until I learned to differentiate and started a journey of self-discovery.
Through which lens do you look at yourself?
Self-worth is an important ingredient for living a fulfilled life and having healthy relationships. It enables you to be yourself and show up in your relationships. The level of self-worth you are experiencing is influenced by your experiences with your family, your romantic partners, your friends and your work environment. If you grew up in a family that supported you and your development of yourself and that allowed to express your emotions, you are likely to experience a higher level of self-worth. However, if you experienced highly judging and criticizing environments that loaded many expectations on yourself, it is likely that you have a lower sense of self-worth. Another major influence on your self-worth comes from the messages from the media culture.
Do you think that you have to be perfect? Do you think that you are not good enough? Do you think that you are a failure? Do you have to be the perfect wife or husband? Do you want to be perfect? These thoughts contribute to a lower sense of self-worth and it is likely that they are not true. They are just a lens how you look at yourself.
How about looking at you through a different lens?
You are enough the way you are right now. Everybody is different and unique, and you are worthy of love for who you are. The more you are able to show who you are, the better you can connect to other people. You are not supposed to please others or to fulfill the expectations others impose on you, but to contribute to this world by being yourself. You are important for this world. Nobody is perfect, and you are good enough with all your imperfections. You will never make it right for everybody, but you can make it good for yourself. If you currently experience a low sense of self-worth, you do not have to stay in this place. You have a choice: release shame and guilt, show up and re-connect with your self-worth today. You cannot change your past, and you can create a better future with patience and persistence. This way, you enable yourself to live a fulfilled life and to have great relationships.