I used to think that my self-worth was based on my success
If things were going really well in my life, I felt worthy. I felt on top of the world.
But then if something felt like a flop, I felt about *this* big. Like a failure, like I had flopped, instead of it just being something that wasn’t attached to who I was, turning out in a way I hadn’t expected.
If things weren’t going so well, then clearly it was because I wasn’t good enough for things to be better. Clearly if I was better, I’d be attracting better things into my life, or so I believed. If my intentions were so clear, and I wasn’t getting “what I wanted” (or thought I “deserved”) then maybe it’s because I wasn’t good enough to be receiving them.
This was a tiring, volatile way to live. Volatile is defined as “liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse”, and that’s exactly how things in my life felt when I weighed my self-worth against my success.
And perhaps speaking about it in hindsight makes it seem like I was aware of my internal thought processes and patterns. But at the time, I wasn’t.
At the time, I didn’t realise I was placing so much value on my external successes. I just thought I was doing what one was supposed to do in these circumstances.
We can often have a co-dependent relationship with external validation. When it’s in overdrive, we feel buoyed up by the “proof” that we’re successful, because someone else said so. When our external validation gets a beating, so does our inner light.
To cleanse yourself of this mindset pattern, to remove yourself from this trap, you have to first realise you’re in it. Of course.
Then you have to do some work to gently, lovingly and firmly extricate yourself, to remind yourself that you are worthy, that you are enough.
This process will look and feel and sound and be different for all of us. I can’t tell you what it will be for you. I wish there was a single roadmap we could all follow to find our worth without external validation, but we must each walk that one that alone. Side by side, perhaps. But only you can feel it.
And you’ll know you’ve walked that path for yourself when things feel a little bit new, a little bit shiny, a little bit fresh and raw. You’ll know you’ve taken those first few steps on a new path when what happens outside doesn’t change how you feel inside.
You can get a nasty email, and you’re still worthy.
You can leave the laundry out in the rain, and you’re still worthy.
You can change your mind about that thing, and you’re still worthy.
You’re still worthy.
Going through this process has shown me that my internal definition of success is shifting.
It’s no longer just about what my business is doing, or how things look on the outside. It’s no longer just about what others tell me, or how they wish to define or value or validate what’s happening in my life.
And to that I say: Phew!
That’s an exhausting way to live.
The truth is, our success and our self-worth aren’t the same thing.
You’re always worthy (no matter what you are doing or what you’re not doing).
If we continuously tell ourselves that on some level, we’re not good enough unless everything in our life is “perfect”, that we aren’t worthy unless the outside world is screaming our successes to the heavens, then it’s not just our mood, energy and sense of self-worth that goes pear-shaped, but also our sweet, shining inner compass.
The inner compass that points us true north. The inner guide who we so often shush with fear and panic, who would love to whisper new directions to us, help us on our way, keep us on our path, move us in the right direction, if only we could truly listen.
Listening to our inner guide becomes much harder when we think we’re only valuable and valid if we’re chasing and reaching a set point of success. A set point of success that’s so far in the future or high in our unmet expectations that we can’t reach it, ever, in fact… because it doesn’t exist in this world that we’ve created for ourselves, where our external success is our only measure of our self-worth.
What exists right now is this moment, where we’re doing enough. Where we are enough. Where you are enough.
It’s funny though, how things can change, when you allow them to. Even though through this process, it doesn’t always feel so glamourous.
You might not feel successful or brave or worthy as you engage in trying to make these new states of being fit you like a new glove. But it’s still worth it.
Because carrying on with wearing your successes on your sleeve instead of your self-worth in your soul is damaging, unpredictable and exhausting.
You are more than your external success.
When we stop making our successes matter only if they matter to someone else, then we can truly thrive.
I listening to a podcast interview recently – Tim Ferriss interviewing Derek Sivers, who said something along the lines of I’m successful if I’m reading, writing and learning everyday.
If you didn’t work tomorrow, what else could allow you to feel successful? (Hint: it’s already inside you.)
If you’re living in alignment, if you’re expanding and deepening, if you’re loving and connecting, you’re a success.
In my book anyway.