Have you ever found yourself feeling like you’re not as good as, or not worth as much, as someone who earns more money than you? Maybe you’ve felt intimidated by someone else’s title, or the car they drive, or how they dress? The key to changing this could lie in your self-worth.
Self-worth is the value you give to your life and achievements.
Yet, many people measure their self worth by how much they earn and what it is they do to earn their money… and of course, how often do we welcome a new person into our lives with “hi, nice to meet you… what do you do?” which is only perpetuating this idea that it’s the single most important thing about a person…
Please do email me if you’ve got a good alternative that you use with new people!
Here’s when I noticed it the most… I’d finally left the job that didn’t suit me and I hadn’t yet started up my coaching business; I was in the space in between where I was taking the opportunity to re-wild the few acres we’d just bought, and build a new home for our family, an absolute dream come true, and a very happy time for me.
During this time though, whenever I met new people, they’d ask the dreaded question, what do you do? And I heard myself over and again saying ‘ummm, yeah, well, a bit of this and that…” and sometimes “I’m just on with a house-project before I start my business”
The words we use can affect self-worth.
Before I go on to talk about how work is definitely not the only value we have as humans, let’s talk about words…
There is something very powerful about the language we use around self-worth. you’ll have noticed the ‘just’ and ‘little’ that we often add when we’re apologetic about what we do… I can tell you that I have absolutely been here, in my previous roles I often played down the value I brought to the business, especially in the way I talked about what I did – I described my achievements in as few words as possible and as modestly as I could get away with – to me, at the time, it would have felt like showing off to talk about my work any differently, and I was worried someone would catch me out – there was definitely some imposter syndrome at work there! And I’d figured out my script and it became routine to trot out those unhelpful words whenever asked – that well-worn path again!
Have you ever said, or heard someone say “I’m just a mum” – as if this isn’t arguably one of the most important jobs in the animal kingdom?!
And perhaps you’ve heard, or said, something like “I’m just the cleaner” “I just do the admin” “I have a little business”? How does it feel to hear yourself, or someone else, use those phrases?
(I’m absolutely NOT saying that admin or cleaning aren’t meaningful and rewarding jobs, they definitely can be… but simply that we often talk about them as if they are meaningless)
Change your words to increase self-worth
OK, so yes, it feels weird to change your regular words but that is one of the things I’m challenging you to do, if you feel like your self worth could use a boost…
Can you listen to the words you use this next week, and notice where they are holding you down, or where you are putting someone else above you, just with your words? What words would you need to change or remove, and what words or phrases can you use instead? Try it out and see how it changes how you feel… Changing the words you regularly use might take some practice, so if you do this, really commit to the noticing and practicing new word habits for at least a month – I’d love to hear what you choose to change and how it goes for you!
So, yes, most of us derive our self-worth from work, and we can start to notice where we do this, looking for alternative ways to frame our thoughts and alternative words to describe what we, and others, do.
But what if we have real value that we’re over-looking in our obsession with work?
How to find out your real self-worth
Here’s a tool that you’ll no doubt be familiar with, the wheel of anything… today it’s the wheel of self-worth and I’d like you to consider your own wheel of self-worth – so if you have some paper, make a copy of this wheel… draw yourself a circle, and draw some wedges to represent other areas of your life… here are my suggestions and you might have others, so make this YOUR wheel.
Then, name each of your wedges… here’s what I choose, but make it your own, with your choices, and just the right number of wedges for you!
- As a parent or carer
- As a friend
- As a volunteer
- In your work – yes that can be a part!
- As a nature lover
- In your community
- As a neighbour
- To yourself
- Anything else?
And once you’ve chosen your wedges, notice what value you feel you have in each of these areas, if zero (lowest value) is the centre and 10 (highest value) is the outer edge.
Here is a sample filled in so you can see how it works…
Be HONEST! This is just for you, so don’t be modest. Own your value, see how you really do help others, or how big the smiles are when you arrive at choir practice, or what a great job you’re doing raising children… YOU have so much value, I just know it.
And notice, how does it feel? Good? Enjoy it! Worse? Have you been really honest?
One thing you can do to get a more balanced view, if you’re finding it hard to admit your true worth to yourself, is to ask a trusted friend to fill it in for you 🙂 I know how hard it can be to say great things about yourself, and definitely encourage asking for a second opinion if this is you too.
My top tips for building self-worth…
- Notice where you DO have value – fill in your wheel of self-worth to see this clearly
- Celebrate what you DO do, search out the value in it, look for the wider connections, notice who you positively impact and how
- Notice the language you use about yourself, and about others – can you let go of ‘just’ and ‘little’ – how does it feel?