Are there times in your life when you feel like you’re worth so much more? Or is it the opposite, you have more times when you feel like you’re not worth anything at all?
I’ve had more of the latter lately. Choices I’ve made, relationships I’ve lost, opportunities I’ve squandered. All have created this gigantic hole in my self-worth.
I’m not going for a poor me with this post. I have every intention of getting out of this slum, but can I just sit in it for a while and just be unworthy.
It’s tough, the pressure of perfection. We all know there’s not such thing, however there’s a weight we still place on ourselves and each other to live up to certain expectations.
I was talking with someone I work with the other day and he mentioned the conversation he had with his wife before they got married. He said to her, “I’m not perfect. If you’re looking for perfection, you’re not going to get it here. I will disappoint you. I will forget important things. I will say things I regret. I won’t say I love you everyday. I won’t be able to make you happy everyday. I’m just not going to be able to live under that pressure and if you’re looking for a fairy tale of a marriage I can’t offer you that. But I can grow, change, learn, listen, love without saying it, be sorry without apologizing, search for happiness, and share joys and sorrows. I can promise you one thing for certain and one thing only, I will be imperfect, but I will be.”
I know it’s a bit much, but if you knew him, it would make complete sense. He makes no apologies for who he is but if he’s not good enough he’ll work towards change but he doesn’t live in false expectations. Although I’m more optimistic that pessimistic in my opinions, I appreciate this philosophy–living outside of expectations. There’s no room to disappoint anyone.
Truth is everybody is going to hurt [disappoint] you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. – Bob Marley
On the opposite end of that, if you never have expectations how do you gauge progress? There’s something hopeful about having more to work towards.
“I’m a work in progress, progress is the key word.”
I was reading an article from the New York Times online and the author, Alina Tugend shared, “There are two sides of expectations — what we expect from others and what we expect from ourselves. And how we manage those expectations is critical to how we view our experiences and pursue our goals.”
I also believe how we manage those expectations is critical to how we value ourselves. Lately, as I mentioned, I haven’t met expectations for myself or even ones others have for me. I don’t like being in this place, however a decision needs to be made. I can either continue to fall short of those expectations or adjust my expectations.
I’m reminded of something I heard from Steve Jobs:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
Now I’m not planning on dying anytime soon, however my lifetime is indeterminate. This should be enough to encourage me to take a risk and be myself; to forget about how much I’m worth and start making myself worth something. Value is created. Creating value in my life, my experiences, that’s the challenge I’m facing.
I think I’m onto something. According to Psychology Today author Steven Stosny, “Self-value is more behavioral than emotional, more about how you act toward what you value, including yourself, than how you feel about yourself compared to others. It necessarily includes self-care.”
In other words I need to be kind to myself. It will require investment of time, energy, sacrifice, maintenance and willingness to change. In the case of my friend from work, I hope he also communicated to his wife his willingness to do these things although at times we may fail.
I’d love to be Bruce Lee and live by the philosophy that I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
But the truth is we don’t live on this planet alone. I believe it’s unrealistic to base self-worth solely on my opinion of myself and how I meet expectations because it’s human nature to have relationships. Relationships come with expectations. Perhaps the truth here is that expectations and whether or not we meet them should be be how we value ourselves or others. So much more makes up a relationship than that. In our imperfections we can be surprised, touched, humbled, closer and stronger than we imagined.
I like having a list of action items to make positive change. Check out the blog article from Little Katie’s Little Thoughts for another great article on self-worth but also how to create it.