The Secret Sauce To Self-Worth

7 Ways To Develop More Satisfaction in Your Life

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

Since the earliest days of civilizations we’ve sought after it.

Inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Ancient Greece were the words,

“Know thyself.”

We all deserve to be satisfied, to know who we are in this world and to feel content with that.

And we are all born with the tools to make that possible…

These are 7 suggestions for living a more satisfied and fulfilling life through the enriching lens of self-worth

7. Know Your Inner Critic

What’s the first step to overcoming a problem? Admitting we have one.

What’s the first step to disarming our own inner critic? Recognizing he/she exists…

Be­fore you can dis­arm the critic, you have to know him. Se­crecy is his great­est strength. So if you can re­ally get re­ally good at hear­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing his voice, you will have won a major vic­tory.” — Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning, Self Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

In their book Self Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem, Matthew Mckay and Patrick Fanning explain that a nasty antagonist lives within us: an inner critic who desperately seeks to undermine our sense of self-worth.

“He is more poisonous to your psychological heath than almost any trauma or loss.” —Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

Our inner critic constantly attacks us, judges us, and becomes more vocal the more we listen…

In order to disarm our inner critic, Mckay and Fanning tell us we have to first understand that we are constantly fighting a war to meet our basic needs in life. Some of these needs include:

  • Security
  • Effectiveness in the world
  • Acceptance
  • A sense of worth
  • The need to feel right
  • The need to do right
  • The need to control negative feelings

It may sound ironic, but oftentimes we accept the chatter of our own inner critic simply because he/she fulfills these exact needs within us, he/she “comforts” us.

“This is where the critic comes in…Paradoxically, while the critic is beating you up, he is also making you feel better.” — Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

For example, if we are worrying about an upcoming test we are about to take, a strategy of our inner critic might be to convince us we will probably fail no matter what…

What’s the use in caring? The outcome is already foreordained. Therefore when we receive a big fat “F” on our test, it doesn’t feel as damaging

But it is damaging because in doing this we turn our critical thoughts into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Self-directed rejection, anger, and guilt may feel comforting at the time, they are defense mechanisms our inner critic has taught us to rely on. But the critic is only giving us the illusion that we “feel better.”

“When you re­ject parts of your­self, you greatly dam­age the psy­cho­log­i­cal struc­tures that lit­er­ally keep you alive.” — Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

In the long run these techniques can only agitate our problems further, causing us to take passive roads in life, where we wait for things to pass rather than coping with them directly

In the end, we are literally hurting ourselves when we accept the lies of our inner critic.

Silence Your Inner Critic:

“Although the critic seems to have a will of his own, his independence is really an illusion.” — Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

These are a few methods McKay and Fanning recommend to turn off your inner critic before he drastically poisons your self-worth.

They involve unmasking the critic’s purpose, talking back, and making him/her useless:

  • Write down your self-attacks, noting the time of day and occurance. Congratulate yourself on catching them.
  • It’s not possible to be totally alert to your inner critic 24/7. So notice the times in which you are particularly vulnerable to your inner critic, whether it be meeting strangers, situations you have made mistakes in from the past, or conversations with disapproving people.
  • Eliminate tension in your body by taking deep breaths. Notice where you might be feeling any depression/rejection/guilt or other harmful feelings in your body. Exhale the bad. Inhale the good.
  • Talk to your inner critic. Tell him/her things like, “you’re comparing me to everyone else” or “you’re insisting I be perfect” or “this is utter poison and lies.”
  • Tell yourself you are a good person who is just trying to survive in life.

6. See Rejection as an Experiment

Now that we’ve covered how to conquer self-directed rejection, it’s important to address how to react when faced with rejection from others.

Unfortunately, fear of rejection is still rooted in our biology today.

Social acceptance literally kept our hunter-gatherer ancestors alive. Getting ostracized or rejected from the group was a death sentence. It meant food, shelter, and protection was gone.

So even today, we still link in our head:

Rejection From Others = Death.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School conducted a study where participants set up dating profiles and browsed candidates that they found attractive. The researches then monitored the brain activity of these participants when they told them the candidates were not interested in them.

The researchers essentially discovered that the brain responds the same way to rejection as it does to physical trauma, releasing opioids (or natural painkillers) to help the body cope.

So essentially, our brains feels that getting rejected is the same as getting in a car accident.

In his book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, Jia Jiang chronicles his 100 day journey of actively seeking out rejection.

From doing seemingly scary things like asking strangers for money, or requesting to do unknown jobs like being a Starbucks greeter who tells people hello (much like the greeters at Walmart), Jia learned how to desensitize himself to the crippling pain of social rejection.

Essentially he learned some valuable key lessons:

  • Treat rejection as an experiment. Have fun in finding different methods to achieve your goal.
  • Rejection is not a final verdict, but just a reflection of the opinions of others.
  • Rejection is subjective. Where one person may reject you, another might feel they have struck gold (take the Harry Potter series for example, which got turned down by 12 publishers before it became a best-selling gold mine.)
  • Being rejected is not synonymous with failing. Failure is very different than rejection.
  • Oftentimes we feel the desire to run away after facing rejection, but really it’s better to just try again and again until we achieve what we want.
“Is your dream bigger than your rejections? If it is, maybe it’s time to keep going, instead of giving up.” 
― Jia Jang, Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection

5. Don’t be Afraid to Revise Yourself

Change is an exciting part of life. Take control of it before it takes control of you. Be the one to decide to rework your life in new ways…

“My former self cannot hold me hostage if I intend to become all that I can be.” — Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

In his Ted Talk, The Psychology of Your Future Self, Dan Gilbert explains that we tend to be very bias in viewing our selves. We believe the person we are is the person we will be for eternity.

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.” — Dan Gilbert

If we remember who we were ten years ago, we can obviously conclude that we are different and that change is possible. But for some reason, looking forward is a lot harder for us to picture when it comes to this idea.

“We find it hard to imagine who we’re going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it’s hard to imagine, it’s not likely to happen.” — Dan Gilbert

Consider yourself an eternal first draft that never needs to get turned in to anyone but yourself. You are your own student and teacher. Analyze yourself. Always be revising...

You will feel so much more value and worth when you are pushing yourself, learning and growing, and shaping yourself into a stronger person.

“Our essential purpose is to become the best version of ourselves.” — Matthew Kelly

Every day is a gift where we get to seize a little more in life, where we get to potentially see a new side of ourselves, where we get closer to becoming the best version of ourselves. Enjoy the act of revision, it means you value yourself enough to seek out the best.

4. Love Your Body

Loving your body has a double meaning. You can love how you look physically and you can also physically put more love into your body as well.

“You wouldn’t expect your car to run well if you never shut it off or if you didn’t fuel it. Yet we often neglect our bodies in similar ways and expect them to keep going like the Energizer Bunny. To access our natural joy and maintain balance in our lives, we need to energize our bodies through proper rest, breathing, and exercise.” — Marci Shimoff, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out

In order to experience happiness from the inside out, we need to make sure we are taking care of our bodies.

Remember that sleeping, eating well, and exercising are gifts. Treat yourself to them.

If we can’t expect our cars to run on empty, we shouldn’t demand this from our own bodies as well.

Tell yourself you are worth it. Give your body the energy and life-blood it needs to live by.

When we are kind to our bodies everything else gets easier to navigate

3. Target The Right Terrain

“We are each a river with a particular abiding character, but we show radically different aspects of our self according to the territory through which we travel.” 
David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship

I remember hearing an interesting story once about the incredibly talented musician Joshua Bell.

Considered by many to be the worlds best violinist, Joshua once decided to do an interesting experiment. With his violin in hand (purchased for 3.5 million dollars by the way), Joshua retreated to the subway to play an impromptu concert for those passing by. He swore not to cheapen his performance, playing the most beautiful and difficult of songs, worthy of the concerts he performed in the finest of locations. His violin case was open before him, inviting anyone to drop in money. He provided space for anyone to crowd around too, in case a group wanted to stop and listen to the beautiful music…

Did people recognize beauty and genius in an ordinary location?

Well, Joshua made $32 that day. Most people rushed by, purposefully ignoring the music.

Had they known the famous Joshua Bell was in the subway, they may have reacted differently. But these people were busy, going about their lives, on their way to work... They didn’t expect to find anything amazing and so they did not see it.

This story can be a powerful reminder that you are worth exactly where you place yourself.

Boost your confidence. Play to your strengths. Target the right terrain.

“Context is for kings.” — Captain Lorca, Star Trek Discovery

2. Match and Mirror your Mentors

“The Law of Cause and Effect says that if you do what other succesful people do, you will eventually get the results that other successful people get.” — Brian Tracy, The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

In his book The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires, Brian Tracy tells us that like chameleons, we naturally take on the attitudes, values, and beliefs of people around us.

Tracy suggests we spend as much time as possible with positive people, with people who are experts in their field, with people who we can essentially match and mirror.

For every Tony Robbins there was first a Jim Rohn. For every Luke there was first an Obi-Wan. ..

Countless CEOs, celebrities, and successful athletes have also risen to the top because they had someone there to teach them the tricks of the trade.

One of the greatest ways to get ahead in life is to seek out mentors. Mentors can pass on wisdom and allow us to potentially avoid years of possible mistakes. When we model ourselves after a mentor, we begin to match them.

We’ve all heard the term “fake it until you make it.” But there’s a huge truth to this…

I’ve often heard that mirroring someone else is at first like wearing a mask. At first, the actions may feel foreign. We feel as if we are in some sort of disguise. But suddenly, one day, when we take off the mask we realize our features have formed exactly to the contours of the mask itself. We have no need for the mask any longer, we have become exactly as we have acted to be.

1. Align your Thoughts with your Goals

Achieving goals first starts with our thoughts.

We need to see the cans instead of the can’ts, the hows instead of the oh-nos.

We are often our own roadblocks in this way.

“No two thoughts can oc­cupy the mind at the same time. Re­place neg­a­tiv­ity with pos­i­tive, con­fi­dent thoughts.” — Vince Poscente, The Ant and the Elephant — Leadership for the Self: A Parable and 5 Step Action Plan to Transform Performance

In his book The Ant and the Elephant — Leadership for the Self: A Parable and 5 Step Action Plan to Transform Performance, Vince Poscente uses a parable in which an ant guides an elephant. He illustrates how thought, when controlled, can allow us to reach our peak performance.

Our subconscious mind is like a huge elephant that looks for safe and predictable routes. Our conscious mind is like a tiny but determined ant and can guide the mighty elephant with constant positivity.

“Make a commitment to positive dominant thoughts. Shift beliefs, attitudes and truths so they are aligned with your vision. Envision having the goal rather than merely wanting the goal.” — Vince Poscente

We can be in control of both our “ant” and “elephant.” We just need to train ourselves with positivity. We can focus our energy and thoughts toward creating a better future for ourselves. We need to envision ourselves there, believing in our internal power and self-worth.

“You really can change your beliefs…You are the one who de­vel­oped them and gave them their im­portance as rules for liv­ing, and you can change them.” — John Caunt

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