As my dating fast comes to a close, I want to share a few more things I’ve learned from these last few months.
I think the biggest thing is actually pretty obvious, but not necessarily easy to feel all the time.
You really can’t determine your self-worth from a guy.
I know, crazy right?
It wasn’t until several months into the fast that I began to understand fully how deep my need for affirmation was. The second I considered a guy as more than a friend I immediately questioned if I was good enough for him. If I was pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, successful enough…Instead of wondering if he was the type of person that I should invest time in, I wondered if I was worth his time.
I believed that if I received his attention and affection then I would know, that I’m worthy. I felt all my insecurities that I hadn’t thought seriously about in a while come rushing back and threaten to overwhelm me.
The truth is that kind of thinking is completely backwards. Looking to someone else to fulfill your need for affirmation is a dangerous game to play. Not only is it unfair to expect that person to see and understand your need for affirmation, you’re also using them to satisfy this need instead of loving them.
Use ≠ love
And the even worse part is that if your affirmation needs to come from other people, you will never be satisfied. You might feel good for a little while after you receive a compliment or get asked out on a date, but that feeling will eventually fade and you’ll start anxiously waiting for the next sign of affirmation.
And then, when that person doesn’t tell you what you need to hear, you’ll get upset and your insecurity can start a fight or turn inwards and fill you with doubt and frustration.
You have to know, really know, that you’re worth it. You’re worth being taken out on a date, you’re worth pursuing, you’re worth spending time with.
So of course, the question is, if you don’t find self-worth in other people then where do you find it?
What I’ve come to understand recently is that there are two aspects to self-esteem. One is what you know and the other is what you feel.
What you have to know is this: you are here for a reason. Out of all the possible combination of genes, you are the one that was born and no one else is the same. You have a unique set of talents and gifts that no one else has. You have a unique role that no one else can fulfill. I know it sounds cheesy and cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. You are valuable because you are one and only. If you don’t do what you are meant to do, no one else will because no one else can. It is up to you to realize what you have to offer the world and let go of your insecurities in order to pursue your purpose.
So maybe you already cognitively understand this, but you don’t feel it. And maybe because you don’t feel it, you decide this isn’t true.
The thing is our feelings can be misleading. Our emotions are constantly changing, they really are just a primal reaction to what happens to us or a thought we have. You might feel bad because you didn’t have time to accomplish everything you wanted, that doesn’t mean you actually have a valid reason to be guilty. Right?
So what do we do about this?
First of all you have to accept that we won’t always feel great about ourselves, that is just part of being human. But just because we don’t feel worthy and valuable, doesn’t mean it’s true. Then there are also things you can do to help when you’re dealing with feelings of low self-esteem.
Feelings ≠ truth
#1. self-care is essential.
It really is. Exercising, eating foods that are good for you and sleeping should be non-negotiables, at least most of the time. Also wearing clothes that fit well and reflect your style, not to impress others but as a gift to yourself. Additionally, doing the things you love is vital to have a healthy relationship with yourself. Make time to read, write, walk your dog, play tennis…that is an important part of who you are.
Friendships are really important. Having people on our side who care about us reminds us of our value when things get dark inside our minds is essential to our self-worth. Our heads aren’t always the best place to spend all our time, even as an introvert I urge you to find people you enjoy spending time with.
#3. take the focus off yourself.
Our culture is very narcissistic. I mean, selfie was word of the year in 2013. And as much as I value self-care, the reason I value it so much is because it enables us to be our best selves and to offer the world so much more than our exhausted, run-down, insecure person. If we always are thinking about ourselves, it’s no wonder we experience so much insecurity. You’re the only thing on your mind. I’ve noticed that if I turn my focus to more of what I can do today and long-term to be of value to others, I stop worrying so much about my own self-esteem and think more about how much I have to offer the world.
I hope this helps anyone who is battling with self-worth, it’s a tricky issue! Feel free to comment or send an email if you have any questions or notes about this topic, or anything!