This week’s episode is a deep dive into self-worth. Obviously as a self-worth coach, I have a lot of thoughts on this topic! I’ve also experienced first hand the incredible impact being aware of your worthiness can have on your wellbeing.
I start with an explanation of what self-worth actually is, how it impacts us when we lack it and how it impact us when we have a strong sense of it. I go into detail about how it’s formed (spoiler, it all goes back to your childhood) and all the different factors that go into self-worth.
I end with some really practical steps you can take right now to start building your self-worth and tap into it more. I hope it’s helpful.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here.
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- Counselling Directory
- How to build a self-belief evidence bank
- Compassionate goal setting
- Interview with Nicola Rae-Wickham about affirmations
- Self-compassion meditation
- Coaching services
In this week’s episode, I’m going to be talking about self worth. I’m going to be talking about what it actually is, how it affects us, how it’s shaped, and then I’m going to end with some really practical tips on how we can tap into it more.
So, sit back, get comfortable, and let’s get into it!
Hello everyone! And welcome to another episode of Seedling. I’m really excited to get into this topic of self worth today because: 1) I’m a self worth coach so, as you can imagine, I have a lot of feelings about it; and 2) I have really experienced the power of knowing my self worth and valuing it. As you’ll know if you listened to last week’s episode, it’s had a massive impact on my life, both negatively, when I was struggling with it, and positively, as I’ve learned to discover it. I’m excited to share a little bit more about what I’ve learned this week on the podcast!
So let’s get started with a definition of what self worth actually is. So according to Google, self worth is the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person, self esteem, self respect.
So why is all of that so important?
Let’s first talk about what happens when we don’t really have it, or when we’re struggling with self worth. When we’re lacking it, our boundaries can really, really suffer. So for example, if you don’t value your worth, you might be more likely to people please. You might say yes all the time, get overwhelmed, and then burn out as a result. You might also find you’re afraid to try new things. I think doing new things is scary for everyone, but if you really struggle with a sense of self worth, it can make it near on impossible.
You might also find the lack of self worth impacts your mental health. For me, it really had an effect on my mental health when I was a teenager. It led to eating disorders and self harm. But again, it works the other way around as well. So if you’re already struggling with a mental health condition, maybe depression or anxiety, that can make you really struggle with your sense of self worth as well.
Right. Now, let’s move onto more positive things. So what happens when we do have self worth? And when we do value ourselves?
First of all, we understand that we’re deserving of so much more in life. That we deserve time to rest, and, most importantly, that we deserve to be happy. That just means we can move through life with a little bit more confidence. We know we can say ‘no’ when we need to, we can prioritise our time a little bit better. We just have that quiet knowledge that we’re worthy bubbling underneath the surface at all times.
And, for me, I find the most important thing about that is that it helps me be more resilient because having self worth really does not mean you always, always believe in yourself or that you have absolute confidence in your abilities – trust me! – but it does help you bounce back from moments of self doubt. Because you know, deep down, even if you do mess up, even if something goes wrong, that you’re still worthy as a human.
It definitely does not mean that you think you’re better than anyone else, or that you’re perfect. But instead, you just accept yourself in all of your glory, flaws and all. And with that, what’s really really needed, and really important, and probably going to be a subject of another podcast at some point, is self compassion.
So, I want to talk about my research into self worth and what I’ve learned about how it shapes up and where it is built, where it’s made. So perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of this happens in childhood. So what can happen is if we have a parent, a guardian, a teacher, some kind of authority figure who speaks to us in a critical way, maybe discourages us to be independent, or tells us we can’t do something, that can really really chip away at our self worth. And we might grow up believing that, and believing that we are not capable. And the really sad thing is what these other people can say to us, the words can become so ingrained, we internalise it, and then we start telling ourselves these things, so we forget that they’ve actually come from external places and we believe that it’s just ourselves talking and it’s internally that we believe we’re not worthy.
And it’s not just these people that are close to us that have an impact on our self worth. I think societal expectations have a part to play, too. So think about when you were at school and when your worth seemed to be utterly hooked into what grades you were going to get, to definitions of success, and things like gender stereotypes, discrimination, stigma. All of this can really have a part to play.
I think other areas, like ongoing stress, physical health problems, chronic illness, can all make a difference as well. So if you’re struggling with any of that, that could really be making a difference when it comes to self worth.
And finally, I think that the obstacle a lot of people come up against when it comes to self worth, is this belief that having a high sense of self worth means you’re egotistical or full of yourself. And I really hope that that is something we can work through and bust on this podcast.
The great thing about self worth, and I know that I’ve talked about some of the more negative things here, is that it’s malleable. We can build it. We can change it. We have that power.
So I would say, if you think that the root of your self worth concerns maybe go back to your childhood, perhaps from bullying, or even something like an abusive relationship, I really think the best approach is to get counselling. This is the kind of support you will need to really unroot those deep, deep-seated issues.
There are a couple of ways you can go about getting therapy. You can either go to your doctor and go down the NHS route, or, if you’re thinking about going privately, one of the websites I actually write for is called Counselling Directory, and you can search for a private therapist in your area through there. So I will put a link to them in the shownotes, if you’re interested.
But, if you do think that it’s more down to societal expectations, maybe even just negative thought patterns you’ve developed, there’s definitely a lot of work you can do to unlearn and change this.
I personally believe that every single one of us has this strong sense of self worth within us, we just struggle to see it because there’s so much bullshit obscuring it, as we’ve already discussed So we might just need a little bit of help and a little bit of work to tap into it and see it clearly.
And with that in mind, I really want to share some steps that I think can help you do just that.
First of all, I think it’s really really important for you to develop an understanding about where you’re at at the moment when it comes to your self worth and what it is that might be holding you back. And the trick to this, really, is mindfulness. And I know mindfulness is often talked about in terms of reducing stress and helping with anxiety, and of course it really does help with all of that, but it also helps you to slow down your thinking, pick out your thoughts more easily, and just become more aware of yourself in general. And this is so important when we’re talking about things like self worth and confidence, because you need to be able to recognise the thoughts you’re having, in order to change them.
So mindfulness could be meditating, it could be writing in a journal, it could be going out for a walk – anything that basically allows you to have some quiet time with yourself to check in with yourself is considered mindfulness.
So what I would suggest you do is maybe, once you’ve developed more of a mindfulness habit or practice, start to keep note of the negative thoughts you’re having towards yourself. For example, it could be, ‘I’m not smart enough,’ or XYZ, or, ‘I don’t have the ability to do XYZ.’ Maybe you find you’re comparing yourself a lot. All of these things – try and write them all down somewhere so you have it in one place, so you can really see where they come from. Maybe notice any particular themes among them. Are they based on career? On relationships? On body image? Anything like that, and just try to recognise what’s really going on with you right now.
Once you’ve done that, you can start picking them apart. So you can go through your list, ask yourself if they’re true, and what evidence you have to support that. The aim is really to become a bit of a detective and start looking for the evidence that challenges this belief. And when it comes to building evidence, another tool that I want to recommend is creating your own self evidence – no, self evidence? Self belief evidence bank.
This is something I used when I was in recovery for my eating disorder, and something I still use to this day. Back then it was a notebook, and I would write down any compliments that I got from other people that weren’t related to my looks or my weight. And every time I started to feel low, or down about myself, I would just flick through my notebook, see those compliments, and just remember that I am good enough. And I know that might be a little bit controversial because we shouldn’t be looking externally for validation, but, when you’re in this really early stage or if you are recovering from a mental health issue, every little helps. And sometimes we need to hear it from other people before we can start believing it for ourselves.
For me, right now, that’s changed from a notebook to a photo album on my phone, because I find the areas where I struggle with self doubt most these days is career and coaching and the work I do with Blue Jay of Happiness. So what I do is take screenshots every time I get a lovely comment on the blog, an email, or a direct message on Instagram. I screenshot it and just pop it in that album called ‘Evidence’ on my phone. So every time I have one of those moments when I think, ‘oh my god, I should just quit, this is awful, you’re not helping anything,’ I have a little flick through and it just really gives me that boost I need to carry on and keep going.
The next thing I’m going to suggest is challenging yourself to step a little bit outside of your comfort zone. And I know that’s way easier said than done, but the thing is, when we do that, when we start taking those small steps, we have more evidence to add to our evidence belief – evidence belief? Crikey, I can’t get my words out. Self belief evidence bank. So you need to start doing new things, trying new things, so that you have this evidence to add.
I do actually have a blog on compassionate goal setting that might be helpful, so I’ll pop that in the shownotes as well, and that will just take you through the steps that will help you set goals that are realistic and achievable.
And when you have achieved those goals, my next tip is to really celebrate your wins. And, I’ll be honest and say that this is something I definitely need to work on myself, and I am, I promise! But celebrating your wins just means reflecting on what you’ve done, and realising that you have done what you set out to do! And it’s also about being compassionate if you haven’t maybe achieved a goal, a certain goal. You can look into it and ask your, ‘why didn’t I achieve that this month? What’s going on? What else happened? What came up for me?’
So yeah, celebrating your wins is really important. And you can do this in so many different ways. You can take yourself out for a drink. You can book dinner with your partner – that’s actually what I’m planning to do next, is take me and Dan out for dinner. Even things like booking yourself for a massage or booking a holiday or a weekend away.
Try and start by celebrating the really small things – things like making sure you got through your to-do list for the day. If you did that, celebrate it. And what I do to make note of these wins and make reflection a habit is to write down, at the end of every day, three things that I’ve done well for that day. And that just really helps you get into the habit of recognising what you have done so that it’s easier to spot when you win the bigger things.
And I also want to talk about affirmations. This is something I’m not going to talk too much about myself, but I’m going to recommend someone to you. Nicola Rae-Wickham is somebody who has taught me so much about affirmations and I actually interviewed her for a piece in Happiful magazine all about this topic and she just totally blew me away with all the science behind it, how it works, and why it’s so incredibly important when it comes to things like self worth and self belief. So I’m going to pop a link to that article in the shownotes, and there is also a really helpful section at the end of that article, which gives you the steps you need to create your own affirmation. And I would say for that, it’s really helpful to have already done the mindfulness work and the writing down the list of the negative things you’ve noticed because the aim of affirmations and mantras and things like that is to counteract them and start to change the way you talk to yourself because the language you use really, really does matter.
Another area that we have already slightly touched on, but I want to expand a little bit more, is self compassion. And this is really, really important in all of this work because it’s hard! Trying to build up your self worth when you are struggling with it is incredibly difficult. Celebrating wins, setting goals, doing things that are out of your comfort zone – it’s really scary and it can feel really hard. And it’s understandable why a lot of us balk at it and run away from it.
So self compassion is really the way to try and get through this. And self compassion is all about allowing yourself some grace and time to work through it. Not rushing yourself, not comparing yourself to anyone else, understanding when things come up that stop you from doing what you want to do, because as much as you may want to achieve XYZ for the month, something might come up. Maybe your mental health takes a dip. Maybe things in your work life get really hectic and busy and you simply don’t have the time to do the things that you set out at the beginning of the month.
And self compassion is about recognising that and saying, ‘Hey, you know what? That’s okay! You can do better next month.’
So when it comes to building your self compassion, there are different ways you can do this. And I think a lot of the work we’ve already talked about will help. But for me, I find meditation a really really helpful way of building my self compassion. Especially when you do a meditation that’s dedicated to self compassion because it really just starts to help you feel those feelings of lovingness towards yourself and being kind. So yeah, I will try to find a good self compassion meditation and pop that in the shownotes as well.
And then the final thing that I want to discuss is creating a support network because, along with self compassion, having the support and cheerleading from other people can make an absolute world of difference when you’re trying to work through this self worth stuff.
So obviously there are different ways you can go about getting support. You can talk it through with your friends. You can join things like Facebook groups. You can talk to people on Instagram. Or, of course, there is coaching. And I could quite easily plug myself and, you know what, if you like what you’re hearing, definitely check out my coaching page. But there are loads and loads and loads of different coaches out there and what’s really important is to find someone who you resonate with, who you think will understand you, where you’re coming from, and work with them.
And that’s it! I think that’s everything I have for you for this week! And I just want to end by saying please know that if you’re listening to this, and you are struggling with your self worth, you’re really not alone. And it’s absolutely not your fault.
As we’ve mentioned at the beginning of the episode, there are so many different factors that come into play when it comes to self worth and a lot of it is to do with external things that we picked up when we were younger. So, know that it is not your fault at all.
And finally, please know that your destiny with all of this, and the way you’re feeling, is not set in stone. As somebody who has gone through this journey and come out the other side, I know that it can be changed. It does take work. It is hard. It can be really uncomfortable sometimes. But it can be done. You might just need a little bit of support on the way, and I hope that this podcast can be part of that support for you.
Right, I hope that was all helpful for you, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please let me know over on Instagram! I’m @katbluejay. And I will talk to you – I was just about to say I’ll see you next week! But I definitely won’t, because this is a podcast. But I’ll be in your earholes – oh no, that sounds weird too! I will talk to you next week, guys.