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How Do You Define Your Worth?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
March 25, 2019

Discover how you are in control of whether or not you feel lovable and worthy.

Woman with glasses smiling, the breeze is blowing her hair about. Most of us grow up learning to define our worth by how we look, by our achievements, and by the approval we get for our looks or achievements. This is a hard way to live because you have to constantly make sure that you are measuring up to some standard that society has set, and at any moment you can be plunged into low self-worth by disapproval, rejection or failure. By making your worth dependent on others and outcomes, you are constantly insecure.

Often, I will ask my clients why they are not taking responsibility for themselves, and the answer is often, "I'm not worth it." They not only want someone else to make them feel like they are worthy of love, they believe it’s someone else’s responsibility to do this for them. And, they often believe that only someone else’s love really matters; only someone else’s love can make them feel worthy and lovable.

Of course, this has never really worked for them.

What if you changed your mind about what your worth is?

What if, instead of defining your worth externally by looks or performance, you decide to define it by your internal intrinsic qualities - your kindness, compassion, caring, desire to learn, and your willingness to work toward what you want to accomplish, rather than just valuing the accomplishment itself?

If you believe that you are intrinsically worthy, instead of constantly trying to prove your worth, you will be highly motivated to take loving action on your own behalf and to express your intrinsic lovingness with others. You will take delight in learning and in working toward expressing your passion and purpose.


Pursuing External Validation is Self-Rejecting

There is a very negative circle that gets set up when you define yourself externally, and need success and others' approval to feel that you are okay. The very act of making outcomes and others' approval responsible for your sense of worth is a form of self-rejection and self-abandonment that says to your inner child, "You are not okay. You have to prove, over and over, that you are okay, by succeeding and by getting approval." This creates constant anxiety and insecurity - the opposite of what you feel when you value yourself.

The wounded self believes that you have to judge yourself to have control over getting yourself to do the things you "should" do - work hard, study, clean the house, practice something, and so on. But judging yourself is unloving to yourself - another form of self-abandonment - and it sets up that negative circle of anxiety over having to prove your worth. Doing this actually hinders you in becoming all you can be.


The Joy of Valuing Your Essence

There is a very positive circle that evolves as you embrace the incredible wonderfulness of your essence and become a loving parent to your beautiful, magnificent inner child. When being loving, rather than gaining success and approval, becomes your highest priority, you will take loving action with yourself and others. The more you behave lovingly toward yourself and others, the better you feel, and the better you feel, the more motivated you are to learn and make effort toward being all you can be. Your achievements become an expression of who you are, rather than an attempt to prove your worth.

I want to suggest that you try an experiment. Act as though taking loving action toward yourself and others is the most important thing in your life. Practice this many times a day. It's okay if you don't know the loving action - just ask your guidance or do the best you can. When your intent is to be loving, you will eventually figure out what that means. Of course, taking loving action toward others does NOT mean caretaking them. Loving action toward others is never about giving yourself up. Giving yourself up is not loving to yourself, and is therefore not loving action.

Each time you take loving action - by what you say to yourself and others, and how you treat yourself and others - notice how you feel inside. If you feel happy and full inside, then you know that the action you took was loving. If you feel bad inside - empty, anxious, angry, depressed, guilty - then you know that there is some way you are abandoning yourself.

If you make being loving, rather than getting love, your highest priority, you will find yourself feeling deeply lovable and worthy.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself


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