Releasing Your Illusions: Why Self-Care Will Lead to The Life You Want
Celebration, or what I call the secret sauce to living a more fulfilled life, is easier spoken about than practiced. Whenever I ask the question during DRIVEN workshops that I posed a couple of weeks ago about how often people celebrate their career successes, most say they reserve such fanfare for “big occasions” like promotions. Many others confess that they intend to celebrate, but “don’t have time to”. And only a tiny portion of the hundreds of people who have contributed to this survey celebrate daily.
Ideally, when you first discovered the binary nature of your brain and how celebration builds your confidence muscle, you would have begun to give yourself mental fist pumps throughout your day. But if you haven’t made the discovery yet, that’s understandable. It’s also why you don’t really deserve a pat on the back or a “way to go”— at least that’s what you tell yourself, playing the role of your own worst critic. Think about it: would you ever speak to anyone as harshly as you treat yourself?
If this resonates and you feel found-out by the statement, you’re in the right place, because this month’s “release” is that of unworthiness. This self-imposed lashing is unnecessary, unhealthy and downright cruel.
The re-lease to this common human trait is self-care. And much like with celebration, this is easier said than done, because when we feel unworthy and our self-esteem has hit bottom, we assume that self-care is selfish. It might sound counterintuitive, but once you give yourself the kind of care that you show to your loved ones, your self-esteem can grow. You must take care of yourself, for no one else will. Once you begin to practice physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self-care, the sweetness of life gets dialed up.
With this said, let’s look at the genesis of low self-worth. Then I’ll offer you some compelling incentives to recognize your own true worth.
It’s Not Our Parents’ Fault! They’re Only Human!
No matter how healthy your upbringing was, you were probably told “no” at some point. Not only does that word sting, it can also make us feel less-than. While it’s true that in most instances your parents’ intentions were to keep you safe, children are like sponges, and are little pleasers. So a “no” may have felt like you were doing something wrong or misbehaving, which equates to unworthy and gets carried like baggage into adulthood. The devilish twist of parents trying to protect us, again, is that in many cultures and instances they’re actively restraining our egos, worried that praise and acknowledgement might “go to our heads”.
Basing Your Entire Assessment on a Façade
Last month, when DRIVEN was exploring the Impostor Syndrome, it was suggested that while we observe the “highlights” of others’ lives, we see every pore of our own shortcomings and every un-airbrushed personal flaw. To make matters worse, with the help of social media, people portray themselves as they wish to appear, which can bear little resemblance to how they actually live. You may look at friends and relatives in awe of their huge homes, expensive cars and extravagant vacations. But little do you know about their struggles with debt, the burden of mortgages, and the energy expended to keep up the façade of living large.
Releasing Your Sense of Unworthiness is Totally Worth the Effort!
If at this moment you feel undeserving and are unable to treat yourself with love and self-compassion, think about your kids— those little sponges you’re raising. Consider the motivation to practice self-care as a way of modeling healthy practices for them during their childhood. Remember: they want to be just like you. So make it worth their while.
Plus, you can’t be truly compassionate to others unless you’re self-compassionate. Only after you’ve become kind to yourself can you connect emotionally with others. So declare March your month to build self-esteem. Begin accepting that you don’t have to earn your worth. If you’re alive, by definition you’re a worthy being with the ability to nurture and nourish that being with self-care.
Notice as you employ some of these small changes in attitude and action how your self-worth begins to grow. Life will seem a little brighter, and then the feeling may perpetuate. In my follow-up article, I’ll look into some mental and spiritual adjustments that you can employ to recognize your value and re-lease the feeling of not being enough to being more than enough.