Humanizing Ourselves | Self-worth
This post is dedicated to those who struggle with self-worth. It is also for men who struggle with this and are never told or given the support to handle these issues. I really believe that mindset is counter to a cohesive society. A society made up of persons who lack the self-awareness to recognize their own suffering will bring about the suffering of countless others. We’ve already seen that shit, so let’s try and work on it. Above that, life seems to be much more worthwhile when you have a good relationship with yourself.
Recently I talked about narratives and humanization as a means to combat racism at a root level. The method of normalizing and humanizing whoever is considered “the other” can also work towards developing a better sense of self-worth and even self-confidence. On a personal level, if you’ve read one of my earlier posts, then you know that I struggle with this. When I was younger this was mostly related to self-image. Now this is pretty much dealing with what I feel I deserve as a person. I’ve always had a guilty conscience growing up. This made me feel bad or kind of evil for doing anything remotely “selfish”. This included super, crazy, wildly selfish things such as the following:
- Setting my own personal boundaries
- Expressing wants in a relationship
- Expressing wants in friendships
- Putting myself first when necessary
- Expressing my opinion at appropriate times
- Sharing personal victories and successful moments with others
- Saying “no” to doing things that I’m genuinely not that interested in
I know, I know, these are insanely selfish desires and I should be locked up for even wanting to act them out.
Okay, that’s enough sarcasm. I still struggle with these things out of fear of coming off as an asshole. Sometimes it’s from fear of letting others down. I’m pretty aware of how ridiculous all of this is, especially as a dude who talks so much about legitimate, internal freedom, but I struggle with breaking away from this mindset. I can reflect back on the relationships in my life and it is so clear to me how this thinking has made me a terrible partner. I see how the fear of expression made me prideful and appear fake. This view of myself made act like a dick when I’d fuck up in a relationship and was then given a chance to make up for it. My mind viewed took that for insanity. My thoughts were, “you already know you don’t deserve a second chance, don’t let them convince you otherwise. You’ll only hurt them again (or let them down again)”. I’ve had an ex-girlfriend say that I was just anxiety. That definitely sucked to hear, but she wasn’t wrong. This was the only way she could process things when I wasn’t giving her much to work with.
So, with it being clear just how much this shit can damage the good things in life let’s talk about…
Being Better Off in the Future
Some methods of combating these ideas include:
- Cutting out people who legitimately take advantage of you
- This can be difficult to figure out on your own. It can help to talk about this with friends, family, or a professional counselor.
- Challenging those thoughts
- I find that using “what if” to be really helpful. EX: “What if I do deserve to express what I’m feeling, even just for today?” This can sometimes feel like you’re off the hook and can try this new method without feeling selfish.
- Doing things that are good for yourself like cleaning your room or going out for a walk or run.
- With this mindset it can feel selfish to take care of yourself in these ways so it’s important to tell yourself that it is okay to engage in these activities. All you have to do is convince yourself just long enough to get out of the door or to start cleaning. The hardest part is getting started.
- Seeking professional help
- Finding a therapist is ideal simply because they are professionally trained to deal with whatever shit you’re going through. Don’t under estimate the role of an expert. Imagine an olympic athlete. Think of deeply we value them in our society because we know they’ve put in countless hours into their discipline. This same idea applies to a mental health professional. Give them a chance to help you. It won’t be easy. You may even have to try a few different ones in order to find someone you work well with, but it is worth trying.
- Try a creative outlet
- Having a medium through which you can express yourself can be relieving and empowering. Sports, working out, music, art, writing, YouTube, photography, cooking and anything else that gets you doing something… These can begin to build a foundation of self-worth that reinforces the idea that it’s okay to do things simply because you want to.
- Ditching your old religion or philosophy
- As a kid who grew up terrified of going to hell because I believed that I was flawed beyond repair, moving away from Christianity did a lot for me. By this point you probably know that I find spiritual satisfaction and some semblance of happiness in studying Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism. This works for me, but not for everyone. I’d have to ask myself, “how many kids were raised Buddhist only to leave that path and find spiritual solace in Christianity?”
- The point is that everyone is different and this is an incredibly subjective method of helping yourself.
- Getting over yourself
- This is harsh and almost never helpful, but sometimes we must look inward and determine if we are sabotaging our lives due to us being comfortable with a very particular kind of suffering and being uncomfortable with anything that actively challenges that. It’s helpful to acknowledge that dealing with unfamiliar treatment that goes against how we view ourselves can be daunting. If you’ve viewed yourself as shit for twenty years, then receiving any sort of love may feel horrible and uncomfortable. It may make you feel guilty for receiving something you’re convinced you don’t deserve. Here is me saying that you definitely do deserve it. If that doesn’t work then the person who loves you definitely deserves to love you. Accepting this may require you to get over yourself, step out of your own way, and just let someone in without destroying the relationship. Yes, this is hard. I know.
- Saying, “fuck off” to the concept of approval
- I’m not sure exactly where my baggy originated from, but it is definitely related to authority and approval. I’ve recently been trying to be my own source of approval and that didn’t really help. Last week I had a moment where I said, “man, fuck approval. I’m doing whatever the fuck I want”. This worked pretty well for me. Instead of trying to find a way to trick myself into going along with the approval game, I just decided to stop playing the game altogether. I felt real personal strength from this. Your milage may vary with this method.
- Work on trusting yourself
- I think that self-trust comes into play when living with the above-mentioned mindsets. How can we accept love into our lives when don’t view ourselves as worthy of it? It seems that feeling worthy is related to accountability for what’s being given. Can you be a responsible partners and not sabotage a good relationship? Can you be responsible enough to actively be a part of the relationship? I think the answer is yes. I think getting to that yes is by taking small steps to acknowledge your presence in a relationship. This can be done by expressing wants and needs. Starting off with small wants is a good way to begin trusting yourself and taking responsibility for the other person in the relationship (which is you). I say it like this because when you have no self-worth, you only ever focus on what you think your partner needs or wants and continue to disregard your inherent worth.
- Try being accountable for your own life
- Working on taking responsibility for your life is also a way of building self-worth and self-love. This falls under taking care of yourself. I think this most often takes the form of doing things you don’t necessarily want to do today, but that you know will make you happier tomorrow. This includes boring shit like making appointments at the DMV or washing your car, or doing laundry. This stuff can be boring, but you will be happy you did it. And completing these actions (not just starting them) will prove to yourself that you are worth investing in (not that you need approval to invest in yourself, remember).
These are some things that I’ve come across from years of feeling this way while genuinely making progress. I’ve used many of these methods and have seen results with almost all of them. I still struggle with these issues, but I actively try to do better, because it feels good to like yourself… Even if it’s just for a moment.
I enjoy writing about topics like this because I directly relate to it and it’s not fueled by my mistrust of large power structures. Therefore, you get a useful post and I get to be paranoia-free for however long it takes for me to write this. Everybody wins!
I hope this post was genuinely helpful and could bring some insights to those who have little empathy for those who struggle with self-worth and self-image issues. These problems are often hidden and therefore pretty difficult to identify in the people you know and love. As visual creatures we tend to take invisible suffering less seriously than the wounds we can see clearly. Individuals with PTSD and other mental illnesses that go under the radar such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and even Avoidant Personality Disorder have an uphill battle when it comes to gaining validation in their struggles. If this post is able to help in the effort to validate their issues, then I’d be happy.
Thanks for reading and stay critical.