We live in a society that’s influenced by daily messages that thin is beautiful, money is success, status is importance, and if you’re falling behind in any of those categories—well, you’re falling behind.
The unfortunate truth here is that when we tie our personal value to our ability (or inability) to land the promotion, win the competition, ace the test, or receive the invite to that exclusive party, we’re suggesting that our personal value is conditional upon external circumstances.
Instead of appreciating our strengths, we focus on our weaknesses and end up hustling to lose another pound, make another sale, or get one more comment on our selfie because without this worldly approval we struggle to feel adequate.
So how do we know if we’ve fallen into this cycle of hustling after our worth? And if we have, how do we stop chasing after this brief ‘high’ we get when we receive external validation?
If we ever want to escape this trap, we need to start claiming the worth that’s already ours with these three steps:
1. Claim Your Worth Unconditionally
Contrary to popular belief, your worth can’t be earned, achieved, given, received, increased, or even decreased because it JUST IS.
“You didn’t come here to earn your worth…it came with you” —Sheri Dew
- When a new mother stays up all night with a colicky baby or goes to bed with vomit in her hair does she love her child any less?
- What about later, when the same child comes home from school with an F on his report card because he’s failed his math test?
- Or, when he rebels as a teenager and makes poor decisions that result in spending a few days in Juvie?
The love a mother has for her child is unconditional, so why should the standard be any different for yourself?
We love those closest to our hearts so freely, yet we struggle to treat ourselves with the same love, kindness, and respect. We say things to ourselves we’d never say to a friend, and we often judge our worth by comparing ourselves to the progress and achievements of others.
2. Don't Allow Your Work to Define Your Worth
When we judge, criticize, and love ourselves less because we don’t reach our own expectations, we are training ourselves to believe our ‘enough-ness’ is directly tied to our performance. This makes us falsely believe that we need to achieve more to be worth more, which creates the need to constantly be hustling after our ‘next big thing.’
However, if our worth can’t be earned or achieved, and your hard work and accomplishments don’t make you any more valuable, then why work towards the executive position? Why try to lose the extra 20 pounds? Why volunteer at the homeless shelter? Why bother trying to improve your life at all?
While your accomplishments,and good works don’t increase your personal worth, it makes your life experience better.
Experiencing life at its fullest means you’re learning, growing, and striving to become better every day because it makes your overall human experience more enjoyable and fulfilling, not because it makes you more worthy.
3. Make Failure a Lesson, Not an Identity
So often we attach our confidence and self worth to our results and abilities (or possibly the lack thereof). However, when things don’t go as planned, we can’t let the outcome make a statement about our identity.
If you’ve ever tried out for an athletic team, launched a business idea, or asked someone for their phone number, you’ve likely experienced some form of rejection or failure.
After these failed efforts, you may have also struggled with feelings of inadequacy, failure, or felt you failed because you just weren’t good enough in some way.
But what if your failed attempts and rejections don’t actually say anything about who you are?
When a scientist is running tests in his chemical lab, he is going to test a lot of variables before he finds one that produces his desired results. If after every unsuccessful experiment, that scientist took the failure personally and believed HE was the failure, instead of the test, imagine how long it would take to make any scientific progress!
“You can either walk inside your story and own it, or you can stand outside your story and hustle after your worthiness” —Brene Brown
You have value because you are a human being, not a human doing.
As we learn to shift our view from being the failure, to having failures, our shortcomings simply become learning experiences to propel us forward, instead of mental blocks that destroy our perceived self worth.
When we implement these three steps, we’re granting ourselves permission to pursue great things without jeopardizing our identity, and without the need to compare and prove ourselves to the world. This newfound freedom allows us side step the hustle and let go of the fear that we’re not enough.