Self Worth

Are you your own best friend? If not, why not? We tend to go through life looking for validation from others; only when others like us or compliment us do we feel worthwhile. If this is you, perhaps you need to change how you think about yourself. I know many people in less than ideal circumstances who love themselves; and I know people with all the advantages in the world who hate themselves. So circumstances don’t always affect how we view ourselves. So what is it that makes someone comfortable in his/her own skin?

For a long time, I was the community doormat – really. I tried to please everyone so they would like me; whatever they wanted, I would do. I was in my 40s before I woke up and realized I was exhausted, depressed, and so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I allowed people to treat me as if I were their servant; and because I had no self-esteem, nobody else thought I was worth anything, either.

Change came slowly over several years, and it wasn’t easy. I went to college for the first time at 39, in spite of those who told me I was stupid for wasting my time on education and that I was too old to go to college.  Well, guess what, I wasn’t stupid and I wasn’t too old. I earned my AA while going to school full time and working full time. I loved school and learning! So I decided to keep going; I earned a BA 3 years later. And that’s how I ended up in Arizona, alone, not knowing anyone, and starting graduate school, at the ripe old age of 44. I earned my MA two years later and haven’t looked back. Oh, there are still times when the self doubts kick in, but they no longer have power over me and my attitude. When I start doubting myself, I bring out my accomplishment list, and it’s a long one. It covers everything from raising two wonderful sons to being a good mentor to others; from being a good nurse in my first career to being a decent human being who loves helping others.

It is difficult, still, to toot my own horn. But if I don’t do it, who will? And if I don’t take care of me first, how can I take care of anyone else? I still have difficulty accepting compliments, but I have learned to just say ‘thank you’ instead of being self-deprecating. I have my affirmations and accomplishments to look at when I start being down on myself. And yes, I am my own best friend.

I no longer think that doing things I want or need to do is selfish; I am just taking care of me; I am just recharging my batteries. I will never, ever, be someone’s doormat again!

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Compliments

How do you react to a compliment? Do you hem and haw and make some deprecating remark? Or do you just say a simple ‘thank you’?

I used to feel uncomfortable when someone complimented me and didn’t quite know how to react. My mother taught me well! She belittled me often so my self worth was pretty much zero. I wasn’t supposed to stand out in any way; I was supposed to blend into the background because that was a woman’s place in this world. I was a straight A student; again, that was forbidden – men didn’t like smart girls. So when I won prizes at school or with dance, I was accused of being too forward. Now, I wonder what happened to my mom that made her think that way? But it’s too late to ask her, and she probably wouldn’t have told me anyway.  Emotions were to be hidden at all costs.

So what does this have to do with compliments? Whenever I was complimented I would think that person obviously didn’t know me well, because if they did, they would run in the other direction. Gradually, though, over the years, I discovered that I am a good and worthwhile person. I like who I am, warts and all. Now when someone compliments me, instead of blathering on and on about what I did to look good, or saying it was nothing, or launching into a dissertation on how I found the outfit, shoes, whatever, I just smile and say “Thank You.” That’s all that’s needed. Have you seen how other people light up when you compliment them on a new blouse, hairdo, or a job well done? How does it make you feel to have someone acknowledge you?

Go out and compliment someone today. Aim to compliment at least one person every day. It will not only make someone else feel good, but it will probably make you feel good, too. I don’t mean you have to be overly smarmy. All it takes is a simple, “I love that blouse, the color really makes your eyes stand out” to see someone’s face light up. Or a simple thank you for a good job. You get the picture.

And learn to graciously accept compliments with a simple acknowledgment – you’re worth it!