Baby, Look At Me (and tell me what you see)

Self-worth (noun): the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.

Self-judgment. We are taught, or at least advised, not to judge others. So, then, why do we judge ourselves?

As humans we make mistakes and, in a case of negative self-worth, we don’t shrug it off and carry on; judgment is immediate and it is harsh.

As an example, I have very little, if any, patience when I am driving. On more than one occasion, I have used the word ‘fuck’ while driving with my kids in the car. The next immediate thought in my head comes from my demon that tells me,

“I am not worthy.”

“I am not capable.”

“I am not good.”

All of this because I used the word ‘fuck’ and did so in anger.

My kids know I am no saint. They also know that they shouldn’t use those words at their age, and they don’t. They don’t judge me. So why do I? I made a mistake and suddenly I’m not capable of being a mother? Because I am vulnerable, in that moment, in my mind, this one negative personality trait defines who I am as a mother and as a person.

This belief stems from the belief that there is something about me that is flawed, deficient. When we are young, if we don’t get the love that we feel we need, either because of our parents’ inabilities or limitations, we come to the conclusion that there is something intrinsically wrong with us; we are not worthy and it is our own fault. Somehow we are defective.

If we feel we are defective, we then try to become who we think we need to be in order to receive love and acceptance. We end up taking score of our appearance, our performance and what is born from that exercise is anxiety, depression, a sense of failure, and a never-ending battle to be a person deemed worthy, lovable, or even just likable. We judge ourselves most harshly because it is easier to bear others’ disapproval if we do it stronger, harder, and faster.

We wallow in our own shame, for that is all we have without outside validation.

In truth, we have absolutely no control over how others see us. If someone doesn’t like me, it isn’t my fault. I create more anxiety in my life when I live in constant fear of making a mistake; not looking right or acting right.

What the hell is right, anyway?

It is a constant learning experience, self-love. I need to know who I really am and not worry about what other people believe about me. I teach my children that while what is on the outside is all fine, well, and good it is what is on the inside that counts. I should spend a little more time teaching myself that same lesson.

On most days, I know this. I believe this about myself. I know I am a good mother. I know I am a good friend. I know I am a good wife. I know I am a good person.

“I am worthy.”

“I am capable.”

“I am good.”

I possess the qualities that I value in others: honesty, kindness, compassion, understanding, humor, creativity, love. I should recognize and nurture these things in myself as well.

I am showing my children love without limitation. I spend a great deal of time sowing the seeds of positive characteristics and must realize that an occasional slip of the tongue or temper does not cancel out the good that I am trying to help them foster within themselves.

It shows them that their mother is human and therefore imperfect. It is how I react to these situations that will mold their reaction to their own mistakes.

Expecting others to define my worth isn’t productive. Not everyone will love me. Hell, not everyone will like me. I cannot control the feelings of others and when I try, it only creates anxiety, fear, and disappointment.

I, and I alone, am responsible for determining my self-worth.

self worth