Building self-worth is a topic that had been requested by the group, so first of all we chatted about what was contributing to low self-worth. Common among the group were themes of feeling a failure, and therefore not trying new things as there wasn’t much point or purpose and feeling undeserving.
The first is to be mindful, to build awareness of your self-critic and negative self-talk. This is a recurring topic in the group, we realise that our minds are very clever at protecting us by always looking out for trouble, but too easily we see it within ourselves which isn’t helpful to us, but the more we are aware and have techniques to deal with this thinking, the better equipped we are to build self-worth. It is good to remember that these are thoughts, not facts. Remember: you are not your circumstance, this was a powerful concept for some people who realised that they had they potential to define themselves by their family situation or health circumstances, so it is empowering to realise this is not who we are.
Secondly we talked about changing the story; Whose version of the story about you are you listening to? Some people discussed how situations they had previously seen as a failure they could now see opened up very different avenues for them in life, more of a change of direction and a different story than a failure.
It’s important to understand and choose your own story, for some the idea of being the hero of your own story is a transforming way to navigate and anticipate life’s events emphasising the control we have and the choices we hold over how things go if we can visualise ourselves doing well or differently than we may have coped previously.
Put some realistic positive affirmations in there and challenge other voices-Why should the prosecutor have all the evidence!
Thirdly, don’t compare and despair! Avoid the comparison trap and don’t fall down the rabbit hole! This can lead to negative self-talk, anxiety and negative feelings, and generalisations e.g. ‘If I fail, I am a failure’. From the group discussion, this seems like a popular belief to reduce self-worth, so learning the difference between failures being part of life but not an identity is crucial.
This is enhanced by the fourth tip, to ‘Channel your inner Rock Star’. We each have our own strengths, no-one is successful at everything, therefore it is important to develop and recognise your own strengths, that’s what makes you special and unique. Einstein said:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish for it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid”.
It’s important to be realistic with our aspirations too, for example, I’m likely to satisfyingly succeed at improving my swimming fitness to 20 lengths a day, but to aim for gold at the next Olympics might just cause me more upset and stress than it’s worth.
This final and fifth tip we really like: Organise your day around self-care. We considered how we generally try and slot this stuff in, and what would it look like to actually prioritise the following:
- Social time
- Do unto others and self-compassion
- Be of service
- Do what gives you a meaningful sense of purpose
- Forgive-reduces bitterness and resentment which leads to negative thoughts
“The more someone does something in their life that they can be proud of, the easier it is for them to recognise their worth”.
We did an exercise where each person wrote a list of some of their perceived strengths and perceived weaknesses-but they had to draw a heart around both of them. People actually saw how their weaknesses could also be strengths, and vice versa, like Geoffrey Bain, an occasional guest to our group, says, bright spots have dark spots.