The feeling of not-good-enough is back again and draining all of your energy. You have the sensation that you are playing catch up all of the time: at work, at home, with the kids, with your changing body… It seems that you can’t ever get it all done and done right. You are looking for reassurance from your partner but they just don’t seem to understand how worn out you feel. The distance between your efforts and their acknowledgment seems as vast as the ocean – unmanageable and unconquerable. It wasn’t like this a month ago when you felt like you finally had it all together: reaching goals, getting places on time, going to the gym, getting dinner made… it all seemed to fit and you felt on fire. But here you are again, feeling like a failure that you weren’t able to maintain that high buzz of self-esteem.
Stepping off the self-esteem roller coaster is the first step towards feeling better. Let’s call it what it is – a roller coaster. A devilish ride full of thrilling ups, drastic drops, and an overall lack of control. When you want to begin feeling better the first step is realizing that you’ve been on the self-esteem rollercoaster and that it was nothing more than a game. Second step, begin to consider stepping off the ride and choosing something different.
But what are you supposed to choose if you don’t have self-esteem to turn to? Isn’t self-esteem supposed to be good? Nope. We need something even better. You deserve it. Are you ready for the truth?
The truth is that you have inherent value. You have a worth that is unchangeable and undeniable. It can’t go up or down because it simply is. Remember how self-esteem goes up if you have a good hair day and everything on your to-do list gets done? Inherent worth is right there saying, “No matter what your hair or what’s on your list – you are 100% valuable.” And do you recall how your self-esteem plummets when you gain 10 lb, your kid bites someone at daycare (again…) or you argue with your spouse? Inherent worth is there again to say, “You have worth no matter your weight, your kid, or your spouse.” You are 100% valuable no matter what.”
The day you were born you had inherent value. Before you could walk, talk, or earn a dollar you had value. You were (and are) worthy of respect and dignity simply because you existed. As a baby, you literally laid around all day and drooled yet you had value. People poured their time, energy, and attention into you simply because you existed. But now your job is to carry the torch of your own inherent value. Now it is your job to pour loving time, energy, and attention into yourself.
To be clear, inherent value is not attached to anything you can do, be or have. It’s the bedrock from which you can stand steady knowing that you are valuable no matter what happens with your lifestyle, body, job, relationship or any other factor by which you measure yourself. The problem is that somewhere along the way you were taught that your value could go up and down based on these factors. For example, if you got an A+ on a test then maybe you were a “good girl.” If you made the varsity team then maybe you were a “good boy.” Perhaps there were factors in your family like attending church services, enabling a family member’s addiction or going to college that made you more of a “good person.” Or there may have been covert messages that you don’t do certain things because, “you don’t want to be like them, do you?” These messages, for better or worse, were a manipulation of your value.
I know that stepping off the self-esteem roller coaster can be scary. It’s oh-so-familiar to just try a little harder. Next week will be better right? Maybe. But remember, you deserve something better, something more stable than an unpredictable rollercoaster ride of worthiness. Therapy is a safe place to begin taking steps off the old patterns and into the new. There are conversations, tools, and skills that you can use to assist you as you put your two feet on the stable ground of your inherent value. In countless sessions, I have walked clients through the unpacking of their old narratives around esteem and we grieve the time lost and energy spent trying to be better. We honor the exhaustion they feel from trying to maintain it for years or even decades. And sometimes we face the tears that come with cracking open new beliefs such as “I love you. I’m here for you. There is nothing you need to do to be good enough for me.”
I’m ready to lead you through a simple 10-minute exercise in tapping into your inherent worth. In this email and video, I’ll walk you through how you can unpack some of the baggage and turn it around in a realistic, grounded way (no raindowns, glitter, or magical thinking here). I’ll even demonstrate the exercise in real-time so that you can see how it’s done. Are you ready? Click the link below. I’ll be with you every step of the way.