Why we feel worth-less is because we have attached our worth to something we believe is important. Over the years leading up to now you have come to believe that having certain things in life or getting your life to go a certain way, is what defines your self-worth.
This incorrect belief about your worth means that you are only ever able to be happy about your life when you are able to see that life is going the way you expect it to.
However we know just by looking at every human being in the history of the world, that life doesn’t always go as expected. So if we attach our worth to the outcome of our lives, the goal of being happy in life becomes very elusive and unobtainable in the long term.
This is why in the search for happiness you may often feel like you are never happy in life.
What needs to happen is for you to identify what you are attaching your self-worth to and then detach from it with the understanding of true self-worth.
The rest of this lesson will be dedicated to the many different ways we attach our self-worth to the ‘stuff’ going on in our lives and how we can change our view of the situation by applying the reality of self-worth.
From a very young age we are taught to find our place in the world – Be a ‘somebody’ and be doing something or behaving a certain way in order to feel valuable. Our identity is made up of all of the characteristics that make us who we are. This list of characteristics is fine to have and it’s nice to know what we like to do or the person we’d like to be, the problem comes when we attach our worth to having to do those things or be that person.
Loss of identity is a major issue for many new parents. This can only occur because there has been some attachment to the person they used to be and now they feel like that person is lost, causing them to feel less valuable.
When you have attached your worth to having to live a certain way and you cannot live that way anymore, you feel like you have lost a part of yourself and this is what makes you feel worth-less. ‘That certain way of living was what defined my life as valuable, however now I am experiencing something different, my life is not as valuable anymore.’
There are many different ways that we can attach our worth to our identity and then when we have become parents, we feel that a part of us has been lost. Here are just a few of them and how we can upgrade this thinking to be in alignment with true self-worth:
My career was who I am. The social status you had at work, the authority, the interaction, the challenges, being the organiser, the ‘boss’, the good looking one, the smart one, the one that everyone came to when there was a problem, where I was accepted etc. All of these things made my life valuable and made me feel good about myself, but now I am ‘just a stay at home’ mum I don’t have any of those things and now feel like my life is less valuable (worth-less).
Upgrade: Your career is not who you are, it is just what you were doing in that stage of your life and now you are doing something different. During that time you were contributing your knowledge to other people and they were contributing their knowledge to you. You were learning about your job and how to interact with other people.
This is what you are doing in motherhood too. You are contributing your knowledge to the lives of your children. You are contributing to the running of the household which could not function without what you do. You are learning how to be a mother and having the experience of motherhood. Your value lies in what you are learning and how you are contributing to those around you and you are always doing this whether at work or at home. The only reason why you believe it makes you feel better is because you have relied on others to dictate your worth by seeking their compliments, approval and acceptance. When you look at the value of what you are doing now and really see how this makes a difference to yours and someone else’s life, then you will be able to dictate your value, not rely on others to tell you what your value is.
You are growing a potential adult here. You are raising the future generation! Every day you are teaching this little person about the world and helping them to live in it. I’d say that’s a pretty crucial contribution to make to society, wouldn’t you? While you are doing this you are contributing to having your family’s life function successfully. How does everyone in your family eat well without you cooking for them? How does everyone stay healthy and not get sick from germs without you cleaning the house? How do your children know how to behave and be polite, kind and learn appropriate morals without your instruction and guidance? You are still learning to use your organisational skills.
Your life is valuable now because you are able to meet new people and have different experiences being a mum, like going to the beach during the week or meeting friends for coffee. You can go to the shops during the day without having to do it at night or on weekends. You get to dictate what your plans are for the day and no one tells you what you have to do. These are all things that you are not able to do when you work.
Neither work, nor being at home makes your life better or worse. There are always ups and downs that come with every experience and all experiences contribute value to your life. Once again, it all depends on how you look at it!
The reality is that you are not in your career anymore, or at least not for now. Stop looking at how you were valuable then and start looking at how you are valuable now and how this current experience is contributing to your life and the lives of others.
My great physique and looks was who I am. Having a good figure and looking good before I had kids made me feel accepted by other people. I would often get compliments off people about how I looked, or got attention from other men that made me feel good, but now that I have put on weight from having the kids, look tired all the time and walk around in public with two kids in tow, I hardly feel like the sexy woman I used to be and I don’t get those compliments anymore. I now feel like I am not attractive to anyone (and feel worth-less because of it).
Upgrade: You may have relied on the approval or beliefs of others to dictate your worth. You have been conditioned to believe that how you look defines worth and the only way to feel valuable is to look good in the eyes of another human being. If you rely on the opinions of others to dictate your worth, then you will always find somebody who will disappoint you, because everyone has different beliefs on what looks good or not. What you need to do here is look for what is great about your body that holds value in your life. Your body housed another human being. You contributed to life with that body. That’s a massive accomplishment! If you breastfed, then your body produced food and sustenance for another life in their early days. This body of yours takes you from A to B. It helps you to live and functions by itself, mostly without you even having to think about it.
You cannot change how you look in a lot of cases (except weight loss and muscle tone or course), but you can appreciate (be grateful for) what you do have. We all have bits about ourselves that we do like and we all have functioning parts of our bodies that we can appreciate. We have noses that can smell, legs that can walk, ears that can hear, tongues that can taste, stomachs that digest, bowels that get rid of waste, fingers that can hold, arms that can cuddle our children, brains that can think etc.
When you start to see the value in your body and how it contributes to your life, instead of looking at all the bad parts of it, then you will come to see that your body not only holds 100% value, it is also giving value to the people in your life, as it facilitates the movement you need to participate in their lives.
Earning money gave me independence. Before children I used to contribute half of the money to the house and now I contribute nothing. This makes me dependant on my husband for money and I feel worth-less because of that.
Upgrade: What does it take for a family to function? Earning money to pay bills, putting food in the cupboards, meals need to be cooked, clothes need to be washed, ironed and put away, household items need to be bought, cars need to have fuel in them, cars need to be maintained, houses need to be cleaned, lawns needs to be mowed, emotional support needs to be given to each other, children need to be taught how to live in the world, and I’m sure there are many more things that apply to your particular circumstances. Every one of those things is a part of the whole picture of how a family operates and what needs to be done in order to get it functioning efficiently.
Earning money is just a part of this family unit and while you may have been contributing this to you and your partner before children, your life now includes some other people which now make up a family and this now means that there is more that needs to be done in order to make your family function well. Right now, you are attending to other matters of life as a parent that needs attention. Money is just a part of that.
We have been taught to place so much value in what we earn, but this is just the ‘get your life right’ thinking of society. We are not defined by the paper, gold and silver in our purses, or the numbers in our bank account. It is just part of what is needed to function in the world. All those other things that need doing hold just as much value to the functioning of your life and someone needs to do them. At the moment, while your children are young, this someone is you.
When you can look at what you are doing as being valuable to your life and to the contribution of everyone else’s life around you too and stop attaching your value to how you think life should be going, then you will stop feeling so worth-less
Stress is not about the event. It’s how you view that event. Stop looking at how events are making your life less and start replacing your ‘story’ with how this situation is benefiting your life.
Attaching your worth to happiness
The problem is that we have been heavily conditioned to yearn for this good feeling of happiness. There’s no denying how awesome it is to feel happy and we all enjoy this feeling. But happiness is an emotion that is felt when life is meeting our expectations.
Sometimes life doesn’t meet our expectations and that isn’t going to make us feel happy. We are not going to smile our way through a very public tantrum at the shops or a disagreement with our partner, or 3 days straight of no sleep, but there is a big difference between feeling sad or disappointed about what’s happening and feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. The difference is how we are measuring these events against our overall worth, or life’s value.
We need to detach these times from our overall worth and keep them in perspective. The good times in our lives are moments that reward us, teach us about life, motivate us, keeps us setting goals and contributes value to our lives and to the people around us.
The bad times do this too. Without bad times we do not even know what good times are. Without bad times we don’t learn what we need to that propel us towards the good times. Without bad times we are not motivated to try new things and reach new goals. Without bad times we do not learn big lessons that can sometimes change our lives and subsequently affect the lives around us in a profound way too.
How many times have you had a bad experience that has ended up being the best thing that ever happened to you because of what it taught you? How many times have you heard someone else say that they learnt so much off someone else’s bad times, or through the bad times they had themselves?
If you are having a bad day, find the value in it. Why does it have to be a good day? Just because it makes you feel good? Why does it make you feel good? Only because of your opinion of it. Change how you view the situation and you will change the way you feel about it.
If you are having a bad day where your kids are crying, having tantrums, being loud, you are tired, the house is a mess and everything seems to be going ‘wrong’, you are not going to feel happy.
Many will just say, ‘I’m having a bad day’ and that will be that. It won’t be enjoyable, but we have a level of understanding that it will pass.
Bad days are something that occurs in all our lives, but again, you will only label the day as bad, if you are looking at everything in it as being wrong. If you look at what is going well too, then you cease rating it as good or bad, but instead see it as just different events occurring in your life.
Stress and depression is where we feel like an event (or maybe a series of events) means that your overall life has been devalued. Anxiety is the fear that an event will devalue your life in some way. Someone with depression has their attention in the past. Someone with anxiety has their attention on the future.
You can be down, sad or disappointed about something that is going on in your life, but it is when your mind determines that this event is attached to the measure of your entire worth that you begin to feel stress, depression or anxiety.
Recognising the value in all things that come into your life will be the key to stopping stress, depression and anxiety, for everything makes your life 100% worthy because of what you learn from it and how your knowledge contributes to how your life unfolds and how it influences the unfolding of others’ lives.
There are so many ways that we continue to attach our self-worth to our ‘stuff’ so in tomorrow’s lesson we are going to continue looking at the other many reasons we feel worth-less and how we can upgrade these beliefs with a new story aligned with the reality of self-worth.