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Dealing with self-worth vs. worthiness is omnipresent in my lectures because I consider it to be extremely essential in relation to our lives. My training to become a mental coach also dealt with this topic last time. The question of self-worth is a basic question in coaching because most people derive it from external judgments. However, is this really as wrong as is often said?
Champagne in the park
Social media can tell a lot about us. We share moments of our life. Janis in Amsterdam, Janis on stage, Janis at breakfast or Janis while shopping and having champagne in the park. You are with me when I am on the road. Often enough it is said that it is an illusory world that we create on Instagram & Co. But, wasn't I in Amsterdam? Didn't I have breakfast, didn't give a lecture, didn't I shop? Yes, I did! Everything you saw is real. The champagne in the park wasn't fake.
Everything we share with others, however, also has a downside, namely what we do not share. The hangover after the bubbly, the silence after the applause, the downpour after a day at the beach. And of course, we know that. We know that nobody's life is just what the mosaic of pictures and status messages depicts. Despite this knowledge, we are not immune to the beautiful, colorful profile worlds of others triggering self-doubt in us. Suddenly it is there, the feeling that the others are more successful, happier, richer, more sought-after, smarter, and somehow living a cooler life. Yes, I know that feeling too. I have felt it again and again.
The comparison trap
If we derive our self-worth and self-confidence from or make it dependent on what others think about it or supposedly own and do, then we have a problem. How rich, colorful, and wonderful is my life without likes? Without applause? Can I only experience the wealth or value of my life from external feedback, or is this feeling inside me? Am I little because someone else is sharing a big moment? Do I have little because someone has more somewhere? The most popular answer to such questions is: “Stop comparing yourself! You are you and if you stop comparing yourself, you will be happy. "To that I say: Bullshit!
The comparative value
There is no denying that we need a healthy and good sense of self-worth. That self-esteem is the basis for living the best life of your own. That our creative power is linked to our self-confidence. However, self-esteem and self-confidence do not begin with us who stop comparing ourselves or closing ourselves out to external evaluations and feedback. If we do not care about external value and we ignore it, it does not show a healthy self-esteem; rather, it reveals something that is very weak. Confident people are neither afraid of comparison nor do they avoid it.
Unique and comparable
We are both! We are unique and we are comparable. Both are just attributes. They are neither bad nor good. And therefore, our self-esteem is no better than the feeling of foreign worth. We need both to be able to define and recognize ourselves and our limits. As children, we need a feeling of foreign worth to be able to develop a feeling of self-worth. We need boundaries, points of friction, praise and blame, encouragement, and the belief of others in us, we need critical tones and assessments, comparisons and standards. Only from all of this can we recognize who we are. Where we are, what we want and what we can do. And what we cannot.
Rich by comparison
The crux of the matter does not lie within comparison. It lies in what motivation we act on and what conclusions we draw from the comparison. If you have not developed any self-esteem because you overemphasize the foreign value, then any comparison will encourage this imbalance. If your self-esteem is good, you will be able to learn important and valuable things from comparisons. As I wrote above, I am no more than anyone else free from self-doubt, envious feelings, or jealousy. If, for example, I experience that someone else's success story triggers a feeling of smallness or of not being good-enough in me, then I look exactly for the why and don’t look away!
I am worthy of comparison!
The impulse is huge to simply want to get rid of bad feelings or feelings of smallness. To wipe them away or even best to work towards a point where they no longer occur (e.g. by avoiding any comparisons). Is that human? No. It is deeply human to feel and know all feelings. It is deeply human to compare and to want to compare. That's why I look at everything very carefully at such moments. Which mechanisms are currently at work? What am I missing or what is there too much of that I now feel bad? Am I "bad" because I am reacting in a mood of jealousy at this moment? Why does the feeling of foreign value have more power in this situation? More influence on me? By what means can I bring myself back into balance? Strengthen myself? What is good for me? What expresses my self-worth? What is my external worth? What can I learn? Do I need a pinch of self-esteem or foreign esteem for my self-confidence? What do I not see? And what do I see clearly? There are many aspects that are worth looking at. And, yes, I am worthy of having a look.
Maybe in the future you will dare not to shy away from comparisons, precisely because you are unique. Recognize external worth and self-esteem as two sides of a coin. I am looking forward to your thoughts on this!