Social media has allowed us to enter an online world full of instant gratification and external validation through ‘likes’, ‘follows’ and ‘views.’ This has made it far too easy to measure your self-worth based off external opinions and keep you in an unhealthy relationship with yourself!
Be honest, how many times have you posted a picture anticipating the likes you’d receive? Have you ever posted and caught yourself feeling irritated when it didn’t get the reaction you’d hoped? Or when it did, did you find yourself re-reading comments and feeling short-term fulfilment from other people? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you certainly are NOT alone, as many others report taking to social media to feel better about themselves.
Unfortunately, social media is not the only route to experiencing feelings of low self-worth; the need of wanting validation and affirmation can come from many places such as relationships, low self-esteem, identity, our history and our experiences.
A part of living authentically is getting to a place of acceptance of who you are and all the qualities that make you, you! I know this is much easier said than done and I am still on that journey of self-love and acceptance but being on that journey is an important step towards recognising your self-worth. It can feel uncomfortable, eye-opening, challenging and exciting all in the same breath as you lose relationships, gain new ones, change habits, divert plans and embrace your qualities.
Over the years, I have struggled with recognising my self-worth, I noticed I sought a lot of external validation from those around me to feel ‘good,’ or ‘worthy’. I’d do this through people pleasing or setting aside my own honest thoughts or opinions to feel accepted by others. Becoming aware of my need for external validation was really important as it allowed and still allows me to check-in with myself by challenging that need instead of giving into it.
I’ll ask myself the following questions and then give myself a reminder:
What are your intentions?
Do you want to feel validated?
Why is their validation important to you?
**Remember you don’t need their validation, you are enough.
These mental check-ins are really important in remaining self-aware and re-affirming why I am good enough and why I am worthy despite anyone else’s opinions. In addition to this, I sometimes struggle with the idea of needing to prove myself to others, especially when they hold untrue or hurtful judgements and opinions. After hearing those comments, my initial reaction was to prove to those people that I wasn’t those things, however, I realised that it actually doesn’t matter. It is okay if people don’t like you, it’s okay if others hold beliefs or judgements that don’t resonate with you. They can be about you and still not define you. It does not take away from your worth. When I feel hurt or want to prove myself these are the questions I ask myself:
Why did that comment hurt you?
Are you defined by that comment?
Was that comment said to help you grow or was it made as an unhelpful judgement?
What do you want to do with that judgement? Are you going to internalise it or let go of it?
Does it take away from your self-worth?
**Remember all the things you know about yourself to be true and use those truths to anchor yourself.
Just a side note, constructive criticism is really important and I believe challenging yourself and those around you is a vital part of self-growth. Sometimes, those we love might reach out and point out things that we can work on, or ways that we can improve and that is not a bad thing, but it is also very different from accepting negative behaviour because we want to feel validated or worthy.
Here are some practical activities you can do when feeling low self-worth:
- Write down all the qualities that make you, YOU! Focus on the strengths and the weaknesses because it’s in both that you’ll reach self-acceptance.
- Go through everything you’ve achieved and plan on achieving. You can write a list, draw a picture, tell a friend, record it or make a mood board. Do this in the way you can best express yourself.
- Come up with an affirmation that you can go back to when you are feeling low.
- Seek support. Read a self-help book, look for blogs, listen to an encouraging podcast or seek therapy (There is NO shame in therapy).
- Change up your environment and do an activity which makes you feel good.
- Be KIND to yourself, it’s a long and slow process and that is okay, it’s enough that you are on this journey in the first place!
By Alice Spencer