Eleven years ago, at the Matrixx Summit, Bob Proctor told a group of us that we are restricted by our sense of self-worth, no matter how much we achieve in our lives.
“The only limits in our life are those we impose on ourselves.”
Most of our problems are related to our self-worth, whether we take care of ourselves with healthy habits, how we treat others, allow others to treat us, or how we perform at work.
Whenever I feel confident and on top of the world, I see no obstacle as everything seems getable or solvable. It’s because I feel worthy, I feel whole, and I feel powerful.
This feeling of high self-worth is intoxicating and magnetizing. Everyone notices it. Everyone wants to be around it. It’s like we are promoting that everything is possible — A new biz venture, a new book or attracting the right partner.
Some people are luckier than others because they seem born with it. I know a woman who is always assured, no matter the situation. She attributes her grandmother to her confidence as she always told her how special she was growing up.
Others are not so lucky and have very low self-worth, no doubt broken childhoods and bad parents being the cause. Again a person I know comes to mind; he had achieved great wealth and yet allowed his wife to trample all over him until she left him with most of his money.
However, most people are like me. In that, we sit somewhere in the middle. We can go through different periods, sometimes feeling invincible, and at other times not. Or depending on the field we are in, our self-worth feels distinct.
For example, I’m confident when leading my company, no matter how bad the situation is. This is because I’ve been doing it for over 25 years and have always been good at it. And yet when it comes to writing, I often feel like an imposter, someone who is trespassing onto a sacred vocation.
However, the good news is that we can all build our self-worth and feel deserving all the time:
A) Avoid External Validation.
When we outsource our sense of self-worth, allowing what others think of us as a way of validation, we are putting our fate in the hands of others.
Yes, getting complimented or a pat on the back for our efforts is nice, but relying on them is precarious and unlikely to build lasting confidence. What is worse is that we become easy to manipulate.
Unfortunately, we are taught to seek validation externally from a young age. As babies, when we please, we get what we want. As young adults, we learn that there are great rewards to belonging and doing what others do.
Furthermore, the internet and social media have exasperated the situation making it easier for us to get this fleeting external validation. However, connecting on social media is nothing more than a dopamine hit that needs replenishing every short time. It’s a poor substitute for connection or validation.
Below are some actions that we often engage in to get external validation:
- Posting pictures on Instagram of a fun night out to get comments and likes. (If it’s so much fun, why aren’t we lost in that moment instead of posting how much fun we’re having every few minutes.)
- Faux accomplishments so that we get noticed. Like writing a book so that it hits the NYT bestseller list, not because we have a message to share or love writing. Or we want to climb a mountain or do an Iron man race even though it’s something we’ve never done before and will never do after our triumph.
- Chasing success and its symbols like a nice car, a big house and luxurious holidays to gain prestige and say that we are near the top of the evolutionary hierarchy.
- Focusing on looks and being cool — the clothes we buy, the places we go to, the extreme hours in the gym or the plastic surgery we do. All this to show that we are wanted.
- Using sex to entice others and feel loved.
B)Embrace Internal Validation
Internal validation means we must not outsource our self-worth: We have to be the source. Self-worth must derive from our true essence — not external elements in our environment.
Self-validation means accepting our internal experiences, thoughts and feelings for what they are. We don’t necessarily have to believe they are justified, but we don’t need to fight them or look for external factors to approve them.
Furthermore, we need to investigate our thoughts and feelings and ask ourselves why were we looking for validation in the first place. For example, why did we have the urge to post on Instagram? Could it be that we were feeling lonely or missing a loved one? (call them intsead.)
Instead of some of the people-pleasing activites above, maybe we can focus on:
- Noticing the good virtues in ourselves — our generosity, humour and the kindness we have. (not waiting for others to tell us.)
- Having more compassion for ourselves and others.
- Awakening our sense of play, fun and joy.
- Discovering our sense of wonder and curiosity.
- Doing a task well. Whether at work, parenting, cooking a meal, writing an essay or playing the guitar. Not for rewards but for that sense of competency.
- Being around the people who genuinely love us.
- Being in nature or around animals. There are no judgements there.
- Feeling a sense of wholeness after doing something creative.
Keeping ourselves worthy enough, so we don’t rely on others is difficult. It takes constant reminders to ourselves to try and avoid external validation and instead focus on the much more lasting self-validation.
We may lose friends along the way. But perhaps they weren’t that real. We may feel that we are missing out on some action, but in reality, we’ve only eliminated the things not worthy of doing.
Self-validation is one of the essential steps for creating flourishing relationships and living a whole-hearted life.
The more we focus on practising our internally-focused actions, the less we would need the validation of others.