Self-Worth not just Self-Confidence: that is the key!

You may not believe it, but around 90% of the people who approach me consider themselves to lack confidence in one or more areas of their life. Even people who seem to be really strong and successful, gifted and outspoken. How is this possible? We are used to thinking that the neighbour’s garden is always greener than ours, but what I’ve been noticing and hearing in my conversations tells a different story. This acknowledgement has truly made me think and I have begun to devote a lot of time and attention to studying this topic to understand the reasons for it.  

I wondered about the “why” of this epidemic and what I have been able to understand is that in reality, this lack of confidence, insecurity, self-doubt about our ability to choose, is nothing more than the shallow symptoms of a deeper problem: the inability to give true and honest value to yourself. You believe you are not skilful or capable enough, you believe you lack knowledge or expertise, you believe you are “less than” only because you aren’t really "rooted in yourself", you have such a poor understanding of your personal value and even when you know it, you don’t really own it. 

All of this happens mainly because you are accustomed to using an incorrect benchmark to define yourself.

You are so obsessed with your ability to do, to produce results, to achieve something. And you constantly compare yourself to the ability of someone else to feel good or bad: “I’m better than… I’m so much worse than..." It is natural then to feel defective and lacking, given the plurality of features and talents you notice around you and from whom you feel so distant. You can be an excellent professional, but at the level of personal relationships you feel like a disaster. Or, you are a marvellous mother, but professionally you consider yourself to be weak and invisible...

The truth is that you are looking in the wrong place to measure yourself; but you have been accustomed to doing this forever and therefore it looks natural and familiar to you.

The story began long ago, when you learned to do something small and were praised for your results. You were a good kid if you had good grades at school, if you were not too lively or loud, if you were excited about sports, if you were brave and you never cried. You were a good girl if you excelled at school, if you were helping your mum at home, if you were sensitive and careful about others and if you never rebelled against authority. These are behavioural stereotypes that started to define you and you accepted them because they were coming from the authorities in your life, your mum and dad or your teachers; they couldn’t be wrong. Soon doing something well became a measure of being seen, appreciated and beloved.

It is very natural that with such a mental setting, 90% of people have trouble believing in themselves. It is virtually impossible and unnatural to excel at everything. There is always something you are not so good at. You do not feel smart enough because you have never graduated, you do not feel elegant and stylish enough because you can’t afford certain brands, you do not feel enough for a thousand reasons all related to your performance. You keep looking outside of you and then you feel incomplete, diminished, wrong, vulnerable…

But you literally learned to feel "defective" in one way or another. And to overcome that sense of loss and fear you have put up a lot of smoke screens, masks, established copying skills, strategies that allow you to hide, to obscure your alleged lack or weakness. You have become the perfect chameleon or the consummate actor, but the price you pay for that is the fear of being uncovered, so you feel forced to live a shallow life where true intimacy with friends or partners is out of reach. In reality, what you fear most is true intimacy with yourself, with that part of you that you consider weak, faulty, imperfect, the part of you that you believe drags love away from you.

Albert Einstein summed this paradox up well: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. 

To learn how to understand and measure your personal value, you must stop using the wrong parameters to assess it. This is a delicate and beautiful work, a work I love to do with the people who choose to work with me on their journey of self-exploration. We open doors and windows that have been closed for a long time; we finally let them enter the light and allow in air that cleans years of seclusion and isolation.

The greatest wonder for everyone is to find that they have always been whole and perfect. They just believed they were cats, while they were fish. Fish have desires, attitudes, values and needs that are very different from those of cats. If you are a fish, you thrive in the water, but you can’t live for long in the grass. If you are a fish and you are obstinately forcing yourself to survive in the grass, you are killing yourself.

Understanding and finally accepting what defines your personal worth is a discovery that has the power to change your life and fill you with enthusiasm and motivation. It changes everything. You stop being worried about keeping hundreds of factors under control and are able to create your own projects and results; you stop being fearful about failing or performing; you stop believing that you have to prove something to be appreciated and loved. Recognising and owning your personal worth gives you an exhilaration and a sense of freedom so deep that you won’t be afraid of anything anymore.

Because it is true: if you allow yourself to grow in the awareness of you, there is nothing that can cripple you or take anything away from you. You have finally rooted yourself and everything grows and expands from the inside.

(Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash)

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