I’ve been thinking a lot about Value of late. Not Values, our core set of beliefs that shape how we are in the world, but Value, in terms of how much Value we place on ourselves as individuals.
We all have, deep in our hearts, an idea of our own worth. Often we decided this at an early age and pretty much at the subconscious level and sometimes, as we go through life, we meet people who have a profound impact on our own sense of self-worth.
Although our idea of our own worth is very often held subconsciously, it’s easy for other people to work it out because we telegraph it out to the world pretty much constantly.
We make it clear to people by how we allow ourselves to be treated.
The mother whose teenage children are rude and dismissive of her has, somehow, made it clear to them that it’s acceptable to treat her that way.
The wife or girlfriend whose partner disrespects her and takes her for granted accepts that behaviour because, at some level, that’s what she thinks she deserves.
The employee with no ambition who’s prepared to be passed over, ignored and bullied invites that behaviour because that’s what he expects and what he feels he deserves.
Conversely, parents who treat their children with respect and set firm boundaries get respect and affection in return.
Partners who hold each other in mutual esteem and believe themselves to be equals have a much more fulfilling, nurturing relationship as a result.
And people who understand the true value of the work that they do are valued in return by their employers and customers.
So how do you become aware of the messages you’re sending out about your own worth, and how do you change if you’ve set your own value too low?
Here are some ideas.
1. For a week or so, note down everything anybody says to or about you and how you responded. You won’t be able to capture everything, obviously, but do the best you can. At the end of the week take a good hard look at what you’ve written and see what you notice.
- what are the messages about yourself that you’re getting from others?
- what are the messages about yourself that you’re giving out to others?
- what are the messages you’re unwilling to hear?
- what are the messages that “sound right”?
- what does this tell you about your sense of self worth?
You may find this exercise impossible to do – if that’s the case, be aware that it’s often the people with the lowest sense of self-worth that struggle with this. They tend to be afraid of hearing positive things because they can’t believe them, and afraid of hearing (even more) negative things because then their low opinion of themselves will be confirmed.
2. Think back as far as you can remember and come up with the first memory you have of an incident that showed you how much (or how little) you were valued as a child. What was this message, and how does it affect you today?
3. Who do you have in your life that truly values you and wants only the best for you? What would they say to you if you were to show them this blog?
4. And who do you have in your life that may profess to truly value you and want only the best for you, but who constantly undermines you? What would they say if you were to show them this blog?
5. What would have to happen for you to spend more time with the people in question 3, and less time with the people in question 4?
6. Ask the people in question 3 to help you write your Alternative CV. Be sure to include all the good things they tell you about yourself.
7. Every day, repeat out loud the following phrase and feel your spirits soar:
“I am a valuable human being and I am worthy of love and respect”