Where do you find your worth?
Yesterday, i attended a wonderful *local training event about substance abuse and eating disorder recovery, and one of the many points that caught my attention was the idea that people who struggle with these issues have extremely low self-esteem and a false sense of self-worth (even though they can seem confident, independent, or strong on the outside).
Specifically with addiction or eating disorders, self-worth is often linked to long-standing cemented beliefs that their value and worthiness are dependent on false ideals and extrinsic factors completely unrelated to their actual identity as a person. Many times, these distortions can be linked all the way back to even the smallest messages received in childhood.
Whether or not you struggle or have struggled with a mental health disorder such as addiction or an eating disorder, self-worth is a very loaded topic for us all. So this gets me thinking, where do we find our worth?
I think that this answer will vary person-to-person, but some ideas that come to mind from my experience working in this field, and just from being a person myself, include:
- how much wealth and $$ you have - this one seems obvious, and can be pretty controversial and sensitive. All I have to say is that yes, money has value - it is what our economy and human livelihood is built on - but the value that has been put on wealth (and the skewed distribution of it) is pretty corrupt and devastating (that's just my opinion). And no, money does not = worthiness.
- how many friends you have - or instagram likes, facebook or twitter followers, etc.
- from the number on the scale, to the number of calories you eat/don't eat a day, to the number of push-ups you can do or miles you can run, to your latest plastic surgery, this is a big one in our society.
- what others think of you. let's not pretend that we haven't all dealt with this one at some point in our lives. separating our own opinions, desires, goals, or likes & dis-likes, from those of others - especially people we naturally seek belonging, love, and approval from - can be a very difficult balance.
Okay, so maybe all of these can be controversial and sensitive - and it really is about balance. Some of the things I mentioned can be healthy to a point, but, more than likely, quickly turn into a slippery slope, demanding unrealistic expectations or ideals about things that may not actually define who you are on the inside, as a human, a friend, a parent, a child, an advocate, an explorer, or a believer.
So, my hope is that as a community, we will continue to be cognizant of the tempting, yet dysfunctional, ideas of what makes people valuable or worthy of love and belonging. There are far healthier and more productive ways for us to define our worth, and while I can't tell you what those things may be for you, I encourage you to reflect on how you tend to measure you worth, and where your worth really lies.
"You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging" - Brené Brown
* The event I attended was put on by Clear Recovery Center, a comprehensive addiction recovery center in the heart of the South Bay, and A New Journey eating disorder recovery center, located in Santa Monica.