One of the many blessings of relationships are how they are two-way. I have learned so much over the years from those who have shared their lives with me. I am forever grateful for each and every one of them.
The past month saw me traveling many miles to many places. Each place and each person was an extraordinary gift who had an extraordinary story. All of their stories are far from finished. What page or chapter is next in their life depends on them. All any of us can do is give them the pen and tell them to keep writing.
Just about all the conversations will fall in one to three categories:
The past – Where they have been
The present – Where they are now
The future – Where they want to go
Something I pick up each time is how their “present” is often associated with their self-worth that stems from events in their past. This affects their future because how they see themselves is directly proportional to their present attitude, choices, and emotional state. One’s self-worth can never be either underestimated or overestimated.
Think about this: Your self-worth – do you see your self as worth it or worthless? Here are a few things I’ve picked up from my conversations I would like to pass along:
1) YOUR PERCEIVED REALITY IS YOUR REALITY. This is something I often mention in my talks on campus or one-on-one. The way we perceive things becomes our reality because that’s how we know it to be. This does not mean it’s the truth or everyone else’s reality. It’s just how our brain computes what we want to be, think should be, or assume to be based on what facts we think we have. Our reality can be assumptive. Our self-worth can’t be tied entirely to how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings because our brain, heart, and emotions can play tricks on us and get the better of us. Be open to the truth about who you are and who you want to be. Own it.
2) YOUR ATTITUDE IS CONTROLLABLE. Your attitude becomes part of your reality mentioned above – so how you talk about yourself and see yourself in the mirror determines how you FEEL about yourself. Your self-worth – good or bad – can be tied to the positivity or negativity surrounding you. Don’t listen to the people who tear you down. Surround yourself with uplifting people who will build you up. If you don’t have a high opinion of yourself, find those who do. You need to be your own loudest cheerleader and encourager. Attitude takes effort, so you might as well make it a favorable experience for yourself and others rather than a miserable one.
3) IT’S OK TO LOVE YOURSELF. Many of the young people I get to hang out with love things about themselves, but I question if they love themselves. Habits are developed over time and through repetitiveness. Get in the habit of finding the things about you that are lovable and use this as a foundation. Say positive things in the mirror and feed your mind with positive reading. If you are being negatively reinforced, do your best to break-free to be a positive force. You are NOT dependent on anyone or anyone’s opinion. You have to love yourself to love others – start being your own best friend. If family or relationships have ruined this for you, maybe some alone time is needed. Remember – you are always stronger than you think you are. Stay true to who you are and who you want to be.
4) THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON THE PRESENT, NOT THE PAST. The choices we make now can eradicate or build on the ones we have made in the past. We all have the power to make decisions that can change the course of our life trajectory. The past does not play into this. It is the future that will be affected. Write your new chapter, don’t rewrite past chapters.
5) WE ARE ALL BROKEN, BUT NOT BEYOND REPAIR. It doesn’t matter if you are hiding, running, or limping through life. It’s temporary and can end now by facing your fears, addressing the situation, or making changes. The first step is admitting it so you can address it. Get help – including professional help from a trained counselor or therapist (there’s no shame in this) – if you think you need it or are encouraged by people you trust to get it. You are not a lost cause, you are a “because.” – Because you were made in the image of God, created with a purpose and are a person of value. Your life is precious in so many ways. Your demons holding you hostage will be forced to release you because you are stronger than they are. You just need to realize it and rise to the occasion.
To answer the question… regarding your self-worth – YOU ARE ALWAYS WORTH IT! YOU ARE NEVER WORTHLESS.
To anyone who needs to read this on this day: Your value has never changed. Your self-esteem has. Don’t confuse your self-worth with your true worth. You are loved. Always have been – since before you were even born.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7