“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.” - Dr. Wayne Dyer
You have gifts to offer the world and those gifts create prosperity for you and for others. Do you believe this? What does that belief look like for you? Is it fully developed and are you sharing those gifts boldly? Or do you secretly believe it and keep those gifts hidden out of fear of judgement or a false sense of pride?
As a career and life transitions coach, I work with men and women who are striving toward a specific goal, identifying the next direction of their life, or upscaling their current career or life situation. They are brilliant and talented people who have already contributed much to their work, families, passions, and communities. When they come to me, ready to do their next thing, I believe that they can achieve their goal, will find their way, and that they have talents and gifts galore. I see it clear as day. Their friends and family see it. But do you know who doesn't see it? They don't see it. Sound familiar?
In the first session of my 8-Week Masterclass on business storytelling and confidence, I ask my students to come ready with a story about a time they just NAILED a moment in their life. It could be a moment from any aspect in their lives: career, hobby, relationship, parenting, etc... The stories they tell showcase their talents, skills, and efforts of great perseverance. However, often before they tell their story, the balk and say things like, "I just don't like sharing about the good things I do." "Talking about myself feels like bragging." "I have a hard time acknowledging the good work that I do." Sound familiar? It's okay; I've said the same thing!
Eventually, everyone shares their story and the fearful beginning moments turn into a feel-good celebration of each other's success and they walk away from the experience with a bit more self-confidence to go out and try something hard and big again because they've spent a moment acknowledging to themselves and then sharing with others about a time when they did well. Self-worth starts with acknowledging to yourself that you are good and do good work.
Quick Myth Buster: Self-worth does not come from outward success or other people's opinions of you. It comes from your belief in your own value. It also comes from a cultivated belief that it is okay to do well: It's okay to be good at what you do. It's okay to tell people about it so they can share with your joy with you. It's okay to shine and be you. You don't have to downplay your gifts. When we share about the good work we've done and the outcomes of that good work, those efforts and achievements inspire others to go after what they want and to share about the results so they can in turn, inspire others to do the same. It is one big butterfly effect of inspiration and growth. We need good in the world! You are the good!
I'd like to take you on a quick trip down the 1990's lane of great movies and use the Hero's Journey "Wayne's World" as an example of how feelings of self-worth and the ability to seize opportunity relate. Bear with me. I'll get there. :)
If you don't remember the movie, the two protagonists, Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) play two rock music fans with a relatively unknown public access television show who get the call to adventure by catching the eye of a big time producer who wants to turn them into big stars and bring their show to the prime time. As Wayne and Garth soon learn, while overnight success comes with its perks (like access to their favorite musical artists), it also has its drawbacks (losing creative control) and this is where the obstacles begin. Things get trickier when creative differences between producer and artists arise. Trouble ensues and Wayne and Garth hatch a brilliant plan to use their prime time opportunity to showcase a musician friend and also get out of a deal that wasn't working for them. In the end, they return back home (Wayne's parent's basement} having triumphed over the man by sneaking one past him and grateful to be back where they started.
Okay - there's the background and here's the point:
Somewhere in the middle of the movie, Wayne and Garth are on an assignment for the show and meet their rock idol, Alice Cooper, who invites them to stay and hang out with the band. Wayne and Garth have a total fan girl moment and begin to bow down in front of Cooper repeating, "We're not worthy. We're not worthy. We suck. We suck."
It's a funny scene but it's also a metaphor on worth. How often have you been presented with an opportunity to do what you've wanted to do and the first thought you have is "OH. MY. GOSH. YESSSS!!!, but the second thought is, "No way! I can't. 'I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy. I suck. I suck.'" What do you do? Do you do the thing you want to do and go party with the band and see where the night takes you? Or do you find an excuse to say "no" to Alice Cooper and head home to the safety of your hotel, the tv, and room service?
The answer is up to you. If you are at a time in your life when you'd like to generate a little more self-worth and confidence, here are three practices to improve your sense of worth in self:
1) Do what you say you are going to do - not just for others but for yourself.
If you say you want to write a book and you commit to doing it - actually do it. Set aside time to make it happen and then don't let any excuses get in your way of doing it. If you say you want to exercise (ahem, Erica Towe), make a plan, and stick to it. No excuses. Confidence builds in doing, not dreaming.
2) Identify what you are good at and what you like to do - and commit to honing your skills and actually doing the things you love.
If you want to really amp up your self-worth game, involve other people IN your plan and share what you do WITH them. I know! So scary!! But...without risk, there is no expansion. Do you want to party with Alice Cooper or watch a re-run of Naked and Afraid on the hotel tv?
3) Practice self-compassion over self-judgement.
This practice is a tough one, especially if you haven't yet learned to recognize when your ego is the one talking and saying things like, "Why did you have to say that in the meeting? You sounded so dumb! You should just stop talking for good."
But never fear, there are ways to cultivate a relationship with your real jerk ego by first noticing when it is the one talking and getting to know that the real you is the observer who sits in perfect harmony within you and is your BIGGEST champion. Once you can identify who is doing the talking (Real Jerk Ego or Real True Wisdom, you can make an action plan to turn those voices of judgement into helpful affirmations that help move you forward instead of keeping you stuck.
One easy way to do this is to take a minute to think of something you want or are trying to achieve and then grab a paper and a pen and make two columns. At the top of the left column, write: "Real Jerk Ego". At the top of the right column, write: My Real True Wisdom. Then, write down every horrible, real jerk thing that your Real Jerk Ego says to you about making that goal a reality. Once you are done blasting yourself with self-judgement, shower yourself with compassion and move on to the column titled: My Real True Wisdom. For each real jerk comment your ego said to you, reframe that judgement with a helpful piece of advice (and includes compassionate words) from your Real True Wisdom.
Example: Real Jerk Ego: No one is going to respect you as a leader in the company. You aren't worthy of the position. My Real True Wisdom: I have the education and experience to do the job. I am going to focus on doing the work and I am going to do it with kindness, grace, and hard work. I leave the results up to God.
By taking the time to cultivate your sense of self-worth, not only are you able to feel more at peace with the life you lead, you also generate more confidence to take risks to do what you want (and share about your achievements), and as a result, life becomes way more fun. I'll leave you with a bit of parting wisdom from the heroes of our story, Wayne and Garth: Stay true to who you are; take a risk to do what you want to do; and "party on."