No one can tell you how to “be”, but if you need help realizing your self-worth, here are three tips that helped me find mine.
by Jordan Paul | Jordan Paul, passionately passionate about all the passions…and bread, comes at you with spunk and honesty as she’s trying to balance life as a tandem-breastfeeding mom of two girls, small business owner, and non-cleaning housewife. You can find her roaming the aisles of Aldi, mindlessly humming The Alphabet. Follow her on Facebook.
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I guess you could say that I have a history of not knowing my self-worth, of picking bad people to be in relationships with. From toxic friend groups, to my first real boyfriend, to terrible bosses in ridiculous work environments, I’ve made mistakes.
In high school, I was so emotionally and mentally abused by my boyfriend that I found myself at Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) meetings so I could break the cycle. It worked… for awhile. But then my last “serious” relationship before meeting my wonderful, normal, healthy, well-regulated husband, really sent me over the edge. I was so blind sighted by the whole ordeal of its course that I found myself in therapy.
Turns out I had been gaslighted for decades and was equally to blame for knocking down every red flag thrown into my path. It didn’t matter to me. I was happy and it was enough to neglect the bad parts.
But after weeks in therapy, I felt like I had finally made the change needed to be a healthy participant in life’s relationships. I learned to grieve relationships for what I thought they were, to forgive others and myself, and most importantly, that I just needed to hold space for people. I didn’t need to have answers or the best joke to make people feel better. All I had to do was exist in their presence so they could feel heard and seen. I became confident in what I had to offer and I felt secure in just that.
So, imagine my surprise when I recently found myself in another toxic and abusive relationship. Except this time, it was with myself. There I stood, looking at myself in the mirror, in complete shock that for months, I have been tolerating the abuse of the little voice in my head. Maybe you know it, too?
“I can’t believe you haven’t bounced back from your second baby. It’s been nearly two years. How dare you believe them when they say you look great.”
“Wow, Mom of the Year! Raising your voice at your kids and shoving sugary snacks down their throats for moments of silence. You’re just not good enough.”
“He could have anyone but he’s settled with you.”
“Your friends mock you when you leave. Fool.”
For decades, I filled my brain with knowledge and coping techniques so I would see the red flags and have the tools necessary to combat negative, toxic behavior in my life. I guess I didn’t ever think I would become my own worst enemy. It probably started slowly, with a little whisper, but it has turned into a full identity-crisis scream. Am I who this voice describes? Am I too “extra” in all the wrong places and “lacking” in the right ones?
In a world filled with mom-shame, unrealistic body images, and “influencers” who get paid to show their perfect lives in 5-second increments, I narrowed it down to these three tips, because I finally realized my self-worth.
1. I found people who fill my bucket.
Instead of occupying my time with people who literally only ask me questions so that they can respond, I have found a village of friends who actually add to the quality of my life. They edify me, they lift me up, they care. And I am happy to reciprocate. It doesn’t matter if one minute we are joking about the crazy schedules of our kids and the next one of us is inconsolably crying- we stay engaged, present, compassionate.
They’re the first ones to respond to an animated text screen of SOS emojis. They’re the ones sending ice cream via DoorDash, sending messages of “how can I serve you today?”, and showing up on the doorstep with kid activities and an iced coffee. These people bring me back to the foundation of who I KNOW I am as a woman, a mom, a wife, a friend.
2. I found my equals, not my projects.
I’m done fixing people and making their problems my problems. One of the recovery traits in CoDA is “I realize that, with rare exceptions, other adults are capable of managing their own lives.” So much of my life’s effort has been in making other peoples’ lives easier, even if it makes mine more difficult. And in the process, I slowly chip away at my own happiness and the ease of my own life that I work so hard for. I exhaust myself trying to mend the self-induced cracks of others and I lose myself. When I step back and realize that everyone is capable and responsible for their own life’s decisions, I can spend more time focusing on the decisions I make about my own life and the energy is reabsorbed into making myself happy.
3. I promote what I permit
I have to realize that when I allow the toxic thoughts to take hold in my head, I am creating more space for negative behavior, attitudes, and words to infiltrate those areas. If I allow the negative self-talk, I am allowing others to do the same about me. I am attracting the exact energy that I spent years trying to combat. If I instead create in myself words of appreciation toward my incredibly strong body, my quick-witted mind, and beautiful self-worth, I’m allowing others to see my light and add to it. CoDA has another recovery pattern that applies; “I act in ways that encourage loving and healthy responses from others.” In other words, don’t rain on my parade, you jerk.
- I’m capable
- I’m strong
- I’m beautiful
- I’m a great friend. A courageous mother. A loving wife.
- I know guacamole is extra, but so am I.
No one can tell you how to think, how to feel, how to “be.” It’s great to get it right in this life. But if you get it wrong… like I have, like I do, just know, your worth is not depleted in my eyes. You ARE enough.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, please click this link CoDA.org and get the help you need immediately.