Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Do you ever feel like you are not as good as others? Do you compare someone else`s achievements to yours and tell yourself that they got much further in life than you? Perhaps they earn more money, have a family, travel the world, have an interesting hobby, an amazing body or a beautiful car that you can only dream of? You keep telling yourself that you will be okay once you get married or get that promotion at work. And if you don`t, you cannot stop feeling like a failure. If this is you, you are not alone.
We`re only human
Us humans have this amazing capacity to judge and evaluate; we need it to make big and small decisions about our lives. However, when it comes to valuing ourselves, this ability to judge can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. Mostly because it involves comparing our qualities, abilities or achievements to those of someone else.
We start practicing this habit of comparing from an early age – that`s why it feels so natural.
We get told
that we are not as tidy as our brother/sister, not as fast, not as good at math and so on. We learn to value ourselves by how someone else is doing in comparison to us. We look for outside validation to let us know that we are okay. And sometimes, if we are not doing as great as someone else, we start feeling ‘less than’ them, as if we are not as valuable. We are normally not aware of the process, it just happens.
We all make mistakes; all of us have flaws. It means that we are human - we are not perfect. The feeling that lets us know that we are not the Higher Power (we are not God) is shame.
Developing a healthy sense of shame is an important part of a healthy child development process. Feeling embarrassed from time to time is a necessary component of socialisation; because that is how inappropriate behaviour gets adjusted and how we learn to live in this world together with other people and be mindful of their boundaries.
However, when a child is shamed for their mistakes and flaws continuously in a humiliating manner, they start believing that they are unworthy, because to them making a mistake means that they are not valuable as a person (not that it`s okay to make a mistake, adjust your behaviour and move on). The child would internalise the feeling of shame to the point where they grow into an adult who cannot see their value; they just feel flawed, like a failure. They can have all the success and money in the world, but they would still feel worthless on the inside. They would always need to prove something to themselves and others. Needless to say, it may feel like a pretty lonely place to be in.
So how can you start feeling good about yourself today if you believe that you are not as good as others and just can`t get it right?
The process of creating a healthy view of yourself:
1) Learning to believe that “I matter as I am”. The first step to a healthy self-esteem is to start playing with the idea that You are important just as you are. You are worthy just because you were born.
I don`t know about you, but when I first came across this in one of the lectures on self-esteem by Pia Mellody, it felt outrageous. I just could not believe it to be true about myself. I always felt like I had to be more and do more to feel like I was valuable, like I was enough. Well now I know that it is a load of bollocks.
Every single one of us is already worthy. Everything else – our job, marital status, financial situation, skin colour, weight – are just our differences. We are all different, but all ‘inherently valuable'.
Try to start telling yourself that you matter just because you exist and see what happens for you. It may be difficult at first and your whole being might want to disagree with it. If that is the case, I would like you to know that it`s a natural reaction to a new thought. Your mind is not used to it so it will try to reject it at first.
You might have to write it down somewhere to start with to remember to think in a new way, especially if this concept is unfamiliar to you. I promise that making an effort to try it will be worth it.
2) Challenge the shaming process. Now you know that making mistakes is part of being human and the fact that you were wrong doesn`t affect your worth (because you are worthy regardless), start paying attention to being shamed and question it. When somebody blatantly tries to make you feel embarrassed for something you did, for the way you speak or the way you look - notice how it feels. If you feel like you crossed a boundary and need to apologise or adjust your behaviour, great! You have an opportunity to do that.
If, however, you feel like the embarrassment you experience doesn`t make sense, as if it was just given to you to carry, challenge it. Not necessarily with the person in question, but within yourself. Have that inner dialogue to find out whether it belongs to you or whether it feels more like a projection of someone else`s feeling or even a manipulation. And if this is what it feels like, then you can tell yourself that it has nothing to do with you or your behaviour. You will get better at it with practice. It might always feel a little difficult, but it is worth it, because by engaging in this process you will be taking your power back and recognising your truth.
3) Practicing acts of self-love. This step of the process is based on the previous two. Once you know that you are worthy just because you exist (even if you made a mistake, even if you had an unfortunate haircut, even if you are not feeling great right now) and once you start challenging the shaming process (whatever form it comes in), you can consciously create rituals of caring for yourself and giving yourself what you need.
For example, it is late in the evening and you are watching a series on Netflix. You know that you have to get up early in the morning and if you don`t go to bed now, you will not feel great the next day. When you understand that you are valuable and your wellbeing is important, you will take a loving action of turning off the TV. It may sound simplistic, but once you get used to practicing self-compassion, you will feel less of a need to fill in the emptiness or dull the pain by binge-watching something.
You are not alone
It is important to remember, that it all starts with the thought that ‘I am worthy as I am, just because I am’. When you start believing it, you will allow yourself to be who you and and give others permission to be who they are.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and that you need some support with it, message me to book your free 15-minute consultation. You don`t have to do it alone.