You Are One of A Kind—A Look At Personal Value & Self Worth

Today’s culture sends a lot of mixed messages which can easily throw off our views about what makes us a worthwhile person.  In our age of flash, speed, and material abundance sometimes it is easy to get our signals crossed when it comes to our self-worth and personal value. 

We humans are multi-dimensional beings who enjoy many layers of existence, both inside and out, all contributing to the whole of who we are.  However, often when it comes to what we feel our value is, we think about our personal measure of power, success, beauty or wealth.

The way we perceive our own worth as a person has a profound influence on every aspect of our lives.  Limited, inflated or distorted views of self-worth can undermine our efforts to change or create better or different lives, or even lead us to believe we are only good for one reason. Personal crisis can result from believing our value is aligned with a transient trait or temporary state of being.

Take for example these common scenarios:

A man is big and strong and has placed a great deal of his focus in life on the ability to excel by using aggressive force.  A sudden change resulting in an insult to his physical strength such as an injury causes serious issues around his self-worth as he does not know who he is in life without that ability. If I am not a man of great physical strength, then what is my value?

A woman completely consumed with being a mom places all of her focus on mothering her child.  Her good intentions result in her entire identity becoming wrapped up in caring for the child and the nuances of the child’s life.  As the child begins to grow up the mom may begin feeling useless and lose her sense of value because her self-worth is exclusively aligned with the act of being a good mom. If I am not needed as a mother, then what is my value?

A person is very attractive and has primarily identified with simply showing up in the world as a beautiful woman or handsome man using their good-looks to influence and please others.  As time ticks by, any significant changes to their appearance such as weight gain, aging, or physical scarring that mars their face or body can cause drastic issues around what their value is as a person now that they are no longer extraordinary in the area of beauty. If I am not a person of exceptional beauty, then what is my value?

A person has exceled in the area of career and has focused a high amount of their energy on job success at the expense of other areas of their life.  A sudden and unexpected change in business results in them losing their job causing a decrease in their sense of self-worth because they placed their value as an individual primarily with their professional success and being at the top of their field. If I am not a huge success in my business, then what is my value?

A person identifies with being the bread-winner in a relationship and gains their sense of power and personal value from being able to take care of everyone around them financially while using their money as the primary means of contributing.  A change in financial status can cause severe pain and a decline in their sense of self-worth since they perceived so much of their own personal value to be their ability to relate and connect to others through the exchange of money. If I do not have money to support my partner, friends and family, then what is my value?

UNDERSTANDING THE TRUE NATURE OF PERSONAL VALUE

Our individual talents and special traits are important gifts from us to the world. They are part of your whole-ness, and need to be enjoyed and expressed. And being exceptional in certain areas, or spending the bulk of our time on the life-functions that we most enjoy, is a key to our personal contentment.

Making value judgments based solely on these externalized roles or things however can cause us to be distracted, incomplete or shallow in our thinking. Often times when I have clients who are struggeling with a big transition, they are having a crisis related to their value; an area of their life that they interpreted as being an expression of their value is changing or expiring. When a part of ourselves we most identify with drasticly changes it will often leave us disoriented and confused about what we have lost and who we are in the world without it.

Although on an intellectual level we know as people that how much money we have, how many miles we run a day, how pretty we are, or how excessively detailed we are as a parent, are not true measures of self-worth–it does not stop us from leaning on these strengths and feeling that these dazzling attributes make up our value.

Mistaking abilities, looks, behaviors or material wealth as an expression of our value is like treasuring the outside box of a gift more than the true treasure inside.

ONE OF A KIND

I have witnessed great shifts in thinking when a client begins feeling into their greater-value as a being. This value far exceeds what we are good at in life, and is contained within our essence.  Essence is the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something.

Your essence is of great worth, and is always present, even when you are having a bad day or lose everything you thought to be prescious in the world.  You are a totally unique individual–one of a kind–and your energetic imprint is so rare that it is not shared by anyone else on the planet. Those external expressions we so highly value are merely a bit of icing on our gourmet cake.

Exploring this idea, and centering ourselves in the knowing that can and will eventually emerge from it, can be a great awakening of sorts. The liberation that can come from a personal practice that combines transcending the small ideas about our value with stretching to develop ourselves in well rounded ways as a human being (even if we consider ourselves to be “all-grown-up”) can create enhanced balance and well-being. Because even if you like being the bread-winner or the mom-of-the-year, you are still more than that.

The journey for playing with this idea can begin by:

–> Honoring the concept that you have an Essence that makes you YOU
–> Exploring parts of yourself that you have never considered a possibility
–> Considering what the flip side of your “weaknesses” are
–> Reactivating dormant aspects of yourself that you have left behind or neglected

Regardless of how we go about it, aligning with this deeper aspect of ourselves will keep us grounded in a vast sense of Self that is unchanging. When the kids go off to college, it is time to retire, or the wrinkles start to appear—we can feel rooted in the essence of who we are and continue to outwardly express and enjoy all our many dimensions.

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Flowing Into Your Juicy Middle

In our youth driven society extra value is placed on being and staying young.  This is a spell that has been cast, and most everyone has at some point been under its influence, especially women.  Often, it seems that women spend the first half of their lives frustrated that they are not yet what they want to be, and the middle consumed with fears related to running out of time.  Under the spell, they erroneously believe that their window of time to be their best is closing.

Youth has its benefits, however being wrinkle free, tight and perky comes at a high price: being young-minded.  Putting our ideas of youth to bed and flowing with the seasons of our life is the key to realizing our life’s work.

The Art of Becoming 

As a holistic health coach the majority of my clients are women aged 30 to 40.  I commonly hear that they feel overwhelmed, that they are drowning in obligations and responsibilities other than their own, and missing their window of opportunity to realize their own dreams.  They have a deep-seated fear that some of life’s parts are passing them by.

The realization that your life is about becoming the greatness you so desperately seek to express in this world is a paradigm shift.  It means that you, your life, your career, your purpose, your dreams, and your work in the world will be ever-changing, ever-expressing, and ever-evolving.

Despite the archetypal image of the old hag which threatens women into believing that after 25 it is all down hill, in reality the most accomplished and satisfied years of their lives have yet to come.

Separating from the past associations of yourself, however, is necessary in order to create the space to become aligned with the next step.  Realizing that every task, duty, responsibility, talent, prior job, education, interest, ambition, desire and role you have ever had is somehow part of what you are becoming (and not what you are) is essential.

A women can choose to flow into her next act with grace instead of looking in the mirror and obsessing over the fact that her face is falling, or feeling like the number of years she is old is a clock ticking which screams that she is running out of time.

By embracing our seasons, cycles, and maturing gifts we can put away our hot pants…and answer the very real call on our lives to make the world a better place.

The Juicy Middle

I learned that releasing youth-riddled ideas can be quite challenging; it is like shedding your first skin.  These notions that we hold about who we are, what we are good at, or what we think we should be doing are very powerful; as much as they may propel us forward, they can also hold us back.

For years I was unknowingly being impacted by these very same fears.  I was constantly pushing as I suffered from the beliefs that I did not have enough time, things were not happening fast enough for me, and I was not measuring up to the ideals I was attached to about who I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be accomplishing.

Was I failing, progressing too slow, running out of time?  Would the day come when I realized that the train had left the station, and I was not on it?

This place of existence that so many women find themselves at today is utterly exhausting, unhealthy and unsustainable.  At a certain point I got tired of the fight and I laid it all down; the long-held notions of what I needed to do in life, and the ideas of who I thought I was supposed to be, dissolved.  Like a death, I released my young ideas about image, career, beauty and body.

It was difficult to evolve.  I had to let go of who I was which was outdated and had become a source of pain, in order to be who I am becoming.

I experienced sadness and confusion; but then I began joyfully entering my next act.  It was abundantly clear to me that I had been blocking myself from entering the juicy middle of my life.  At age 36, I have just begun to put away my child-like obsessions and come into my own.  As one of my teachers often said, life is a long time.  I was too stuck in my old ideas to allow the flow of an unplanned life bursting with a new level of potential–and as a result my life and dreams had come to a brief stand-still.

When my mind-set shifted, a door without a handle opened; the mystery returned, and life opened up to me in a whole new way.  I felt renewal, as if I was being reincarnated in my existing body.  And everything in my life began to flow in fresh, unexpected and exciting ways!

Where ever you are in life, I challenge you to examine mind-sets around your age, your dreams and the pursuit of happiness.  Instead of holding back, believing that you’re missing it, feeling that your time is running out or your moment in the sun is passing you by–think about the reality that you have a lot of life to live.  You may as well be pursuing good stuff and realizing your dreams.  You are just now arriving at a place of readiness, and it is really never too late.

What are you ready to do now that you were not capable of ten years ago?  This is your prime and the juiciest parts are just beginning.  Let’s embrace our budding wisdom and bask in the richness and freedom of our maturity.  The best is yet to come.