In Part 1 of this series, I talked about what self-worth is, and a few reasons we lose it. I briefly mentioned that life isn’t a competition, no matter how much some people made it feel like it was. This mentality is a HUGE deterrent for practicing self-worth. If I asked you if you’ve ever known someone who seemed like they weren’t genuinely happy for you when life went your way – that they appeared to not actually want what’s best for you, I’m sure it would be easy for you to answer yes. Similarly, if I asked you if there had ever been a time that you felt like you couldn’t share an accomplishment you earned, something you were proud of yourself for, or something you felt confident in because of reasons like you didn’t want to seem braggy or make someone feel weird/sad/jealous, I’m sure it would be equally as easy for you to answer yes.
Now, if I asked you if you’ve ever been the person that has compared yourself to others – someone who has felt weird/sad/jealous and not genuinely happy for someone when something went well for them, again, I’m sure it would be WAY TOO EASY for you to answer yes.
In my college days, I was an AVID tutor (great program – check it out) for 6th-8th graders. I absolutely loved it for so many reasons. There are a lot of memories that I hold from all those kids and all those years, but one stands alone. The tutors were leading groups for a school scavenger hunt. My group and I were joking about making the scavenger hunt a competition. One girl mentioned how everything was inherently a competition. I didn’t think much of it initially – we laughed a little bit. It seemed like fun, healthy competition at the start. She went on to describe that how girls look, the grades girls make, the clothes girls wear, friends, what they’re involved in, any achievements in general, literally everything in life was all competition. When I explored this further with her, she mentioned that she needed to be the absolute best in all of those things to get the best guy and to make the other girls jealous – that was the goal – to always be the very best. Let me be very clear that this was a middle schooler talking – we’re all guilty of this mentality in some way or another especially when we’re younger. I’m in no way trying to bash this girl that I wholeheartedly believe is a phenomenal person. It just opened my eyes to how this mentality sets in SO YOUNG and then evolves as we get older. Maybe it remains the same, just becomes a little more subtle. Maybe (definitely) some people embrace this lifestyle and never grow out of it at all.
This “life is a competition mentality” REALLY pulls from our ability to practice self-worth. Two huge issues –
Issue 1 –
Imagine all of the time you spend scrolling through Instagram looking at other people’s highlight reel feeling really bad about yourself. Hey, I’m guilty of it. It is impossible to not fall into that sometimes. A lot of the time we can quickly catch ourselves and put our phones down, but sometimes this goes a lot deeper. It can ruin relationships. This extremely unhealthy competition can drive wedges between yourself and people that otherwise, you’d be great friends with. You know when you see that one family member that you just can’t stand because they seem so perfect – you feel like you have to overcompensate, competing with them at every opportunity? This is because you severely lack self-worth. Every moment you’re in that mentality, you’re denying yourself several beautiful opportunities. You deny yourself connection with that person, you deny yourself self-acceptance and a true feeling of self-worth, and you choose to deny yourself of mental and emotional energy that you could spend on something worthwhile. Imagine what your life would be like if you refocused all of that immense amount of energy onto loving yourself and loving that other person.
The longer you spend here, the more you’re watering some pretty dark seeds. If you choose to sit in this place, you can easily find yourself wishing the absolute worst for everyone else around you. At the end of the day, though, we’re still in the exact same place that we’re in anyway, totally independent of the people we’re spending so much time focused on.
The thing is, that person’s beauty doesn’t make you any less beautiful. Their success doesn’t make you any less successful. Some things are a competition, and that’s okay. It’s not a bad thing to want to win. This can become unhealthy, though. When we feel like we’re robbed of something because of someone else’s genuine success, we slip into this unhealthy competitive mentality. Remind yourself that their place in life doesn’t, in any way, impact your place in life. This stems from a deep rooted fear or feeling of not being good enough in some sense. The answer is not for others to fail, but to accept every piece of yourself. Take that energy and practice self-worth, instead. (more on this in Part 3!)
Issue 2 –
I adore all of my friends so much and am extremely thankful for the amount of vulnerability I’m able to have with them. I have done so many amazing things in my life, but they know way more about the bad stuff than the good. I’d be willing to bet that that goes both ways. Why is that? Why are we so quick to share the bad stuff we’ve experienced versus the accomplishments we’ve had?
We seem to connect more as a society on failures rather than successes – like failures make us more human and successes make us less relatable. We’re aware that those around us are likely experiencing something unpleasant at any given moment. That’s life. We don’t want to rub it in that we’re doing well or that we have something they don’t. Whatever the reason, we end up dimming our light for the sake of others. We’re so afraid of being too much that we strip ourselves of an opportunity to practice self-worth. Dimming our light for the sake of others trains our brain to feel like we’re unworthy in a sense. The more we do this, the more we deny ourselves a deep feeling of ownership of our worth.
You won’t always get the reaction you hope for when you simply own your self-worth. It’s so disheartening to finally gain the courage to own all pieces of yourself (rather than living on some middle ground of yourself like you had been) and receive a sour reaction. It feels like pure rejection – a message that you’re not allowed to experience gratitude in yourself. Their reaction to your gains in life is out of your control, and this is a poor reflection on them – not on you, though. When you realize that your highs in life are simply their own – that they don’t take away from the lives of others – you can shine without dimming your light for the sake of others. There is no doubt that some will take it personally in such an envious way when you do well. This sucks, truly. It’s very unfortunate that this is the type of mentality that society seems to facilitate. What you can control is how you respond, and what message you choose to believe about yourself. You deserve to feel proud of yourself. You deserve to feel beautiful. You deserve success. You deserve all the good things. You deserve to believe me. You deserve to own your self-worth.
Part 3 of Finding and Owning Self-Worth all about messages we tell ourselves coming soon!