7 Ways I’ve Learned to Find My Self-Worth (Again)

The top thing I’ve learned: Finding and feeling self-worth is a life-long journey. Having tips to keep a positive you, and remind yourself how to find it again are crucial to living a happy, fulfilled life. Seven tips I’ve reflected on during a time of re-discovery.

Photo by the lovely Britt Nemeth.

What does self-worth mean? On the most basic defined level, it is the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person. Self-esteem. Confidence. The “make it” of “fake it ’til you make it.” Lately, as I’ve taken a new pivot within my own life and identity, I’ve been reminded of the importance of finding this within my own soul and learning to accept and believe it. And, fuck, has it been hard.

Since I was a child I was always over-achieving. Many talents have come naturally to me, many have not. And those have-nots have forced me to not give up, but to work my tail off to try to at least — from my own warped, psychological outlook on life — find some sort of success within those learning periods. As many times as I have been able to “make it” I’ve not yet learned how to truly claim and believe that I deserve those successes.

I constantly strive to find peace in my thoughts — thoughts that say “you are fucking amazing, deserving, successful, kind…” — everything that I strive to be, but much of the time there is always a voice inside my head saying “you are okay, but do better”.

As humans, we are incredibly complex. One little interaction can change how we see the world and define our confidence or knowledge in the blink of an eye. So how do we stop ourselves from digging into a hole of negativity? As a person that has cycled through these moments over and over again, during my most recent time of reflection, I decided to define and get a few thoughts down on virtual paper:

  1. Find the people that will give you pep talks. Oh, yes. This one is key. Ultimately you need to find and believe in your own successes but also know the people in your life that will be the objective third party to walk you through times of doubt are monstrously valuable. If you are thinking “I have no idea who that is in my life” then you need to open up your network. Find people that will be straight with you but also your biggest fans. I promise you they are all over the place.
  2. Therapy, therapy, therapy! I grew up in a household of people in the medical field and even with that influence, was never privy to how helpful utilizing therapy could be. After a break-up and a move to a new city, I decided I wanted to try and see if having someone to talk to would help me parse out all of the emotions and doubts I was feeling. What I found during this time of reflection went far beyond the initial reasons I felt I needed the help. I have learned so much about myself over the course of the years I have taken time for therapy. From why I overachieve, how I handle relationships, how I define success, what is truly important to me, things I just need to let go of. As a person who has grown up in a loving, nurturing, somewhat idyllic life, having the ability to know that I can still grieve and feel uneasy with things in my life has been so good for my mental well-being.
  3. You have to want to love yourself. My brother is a recovering alcoholic. Over the years that he has been sober (which I am incredibly proud of him for this and all of his other life accomplishments) I have spent a lot of time learning more about family interventions, addiction abuse, psychological recovery. And one of the larger parts of a person getting help is that they have to want to get better. They have to want to love themselves and make themselves better. That no one else in the world — even the most important people in their lives — can help them want to make the change. This very notion has made me think a lot about my own self love. You have to want to love yourself. Having other people love you is still not going to help you learn to truly love who you are. And for those humans that are intensely reflective of their own actions and words, this one can be so hard to truly keep in check. But you have to remind yourself of why you are amazing, why you should feel good and love who you are. No one else can do that for you.
  4. Don’t over-define yourself based on success only. This one is huge. And I’ve spent a good portion of my life having to remind myself that successful moments are not the only ones that make me good. We are human. We fuck up. We fail. We wish we had not said or done things. But the fact that we can recognize our mistakes or failures is actually what makes us good, what gives us the courage and drive to continue to move forward. Allows us to become stronger by learning from our past actions. That ensures to us and those around us we are not sociopaths.
  5. Know that the down and up times will always come in waves. I had an executive coach that told me to read “The Secret” in order to get insight into how to think positive to keep life positive. When I first started to read I agreed with the idea. Your life will always be positive if you think positive! Yay! Amazing! How simple! — then I really started to think about it and it’s a bit of BS. Life comes in waves. Sometimes those waves seem to continuously climb and grow and you can almost panic yourself on the positive trajectory. And then, just like that, it can also feel like “when it rains it pours” and you will never make it through. But then you do. And then the cycle starts all over again. I think thinking positively is incredibly important but don’t let positive thoughts, followed by less than ideal outcomes means you are “disfunctional” or “defective” — know that if you keep trucking, learning from the down moments, that the up times will inevitably come again.
  6. Just be kind. I’m not sure I can emphasis this enough. My parents have so deeply instilled this into me since I was a kid that the times I have to be “stern” or “real” with people always make me walk away and question every word that has come out of my mouth. But I’ve also learned there is power in providing people with constructive feedback and still create a kindness for them in their lives. Even if in the moment they do not react well. And on a base level, just being kind, respectful, inclusive and listening to those around you can improve moments of other people’s live. That karma could return to you 10 fold.
  7. Remove yourself from people who suck. We all know these people. The ones who you love but feel the need to never really let you love yourself or the things you are accomplishing in your life. I’ve had many of these people in and out of my life. They never allow you to fully appreciate the things you are succeeding in, always finding some way to rain on your parade. And here is the deal, most of the time, it’s jealously that causes them to manipulatively lash out and make you feel less than. You don’t have to remove them from you life, and in many cases (re: co-workers, family, roommates, etc.) you really can’t. You just need to replace their commentary with Charlie Brown “teacher voice” (yes that is my most scientific way of helping you problem solve those interactions).

If you decided to read this article, it was clearly something you were trying to find an answer to, right? So I’m not going to sugar coat this. You will never hit a peak where you are like “cool, finally fixed that self-esteem issue once and for all.” You must constantly work on this. Partly why I wrote this post is due to me having to re-discover my own self-worth. Really dig back in my brain to times I’ve felt worthy and happy. To remind myself of what I bring to the table, why being who I am is important and impactful.

I’d love to hear how you cope with these times of doubt! Asking for a friend ;) Please comment below.