I looked at my posts on Linkedin last year and found that the article that got the most views was on how to feel you are enough.
Where does this feeling of not being enough come from? Sometimes in the midst of all the pressure and expectations of life and work we can forget all the wonderful, unique things about our self.
You are more valuable than both heaven and earth. What else can I say? You don’t know your own worth. Do not sell yourself at a ridiculous price. Rumi
Sometimes when interacting with others we can feel others' conditional regard. We may feel we aren’t worth the attention of others, worth talking to, or worthy of others' kindness because we don’t measure up to some external criteria. This means we are being externally oriented, that our self-worth is based on some kind of external condition. Am I making enough money? Do I look good enough? Am I accomplishing enough? Am I getting high enough marks? Do I have the approval of my family?
Often we seek approval from external sources instead of approving of ourselves. When we seek external approval we have no control whereas if we connect and approve of ourselves we can impact our general mood.
How about contemplating how your enough is enough. How you uniquely bring all that you are your strengths, weaknesses, successes, and humanity to life and work?
When people feel intrinsically valuable they feel valued for their own sake. So if they are or aren’t performing they know they are valuable regardless of the outcomes.
If a person is self-valuing they have better mental health and relationships. Self-valuing enables us to risk and ultimately perform better.
Do you have a baseline of inherent value?
- One way of setting a baseline of inherent value is to allow 20% of external opinions in and focusing the rest of your time and effort, which is 80% on valuing yourself. Listening to your internal voice allows for risk-taking with others, lessening the impact of the critical voices of others, and helps you lean into constructive feedback from others
- Another way to establish a baseline of self-value is to do something that resonates with you for its own sake. Actively doing something that makes you feel inherently good. Doing this softens your experience of self because you experience yourself in a non-conditional way. Your self-value can go up if you compare yourself to yourself instead of to others. There will always be someone better than you at some things. What if you brought yourself just as you are to your relationships or your workplace? Would you behave any differently?
- To counteract the negativity bias (and our brain’s tendency to focus on what we DIDN’T do today), it’s very helpful to end each day with a “positive focus”. At the end of the day ask yourself what 3 things went well today. It may take a bit of time to think of these things. If you invest the effort on doing this your mood will improve. You will enhance your awareness of what it is you are doing that makes you feel good. Acknowledging what you did well helps you experience that your enough is enough.
For instance, last night when I did this exercise I realized;
- I was emotionally open and vulnerable with some new friends over dinner.
- I listened to my husband’s inner process in an open and affirming way twice that day, once in the afternoon and another time at night.
- I worked hard cleaning our house.
Maybe you had a productive meeting with a colleague or your boss. Note this or even better write it down. Maybe you had an honest conversation with a co-worker or family member. Great note this or write it down.
Try to write down at least three things that went well and your mood and the skill of self-valuing will be enhanced. Over time you will raise your ability to value yourself and your confidence levels.
- Enjoy the journey of learning and working, not just the destination…. Enjoying the journey, the knowledge and experience that the process of trying, learning and creating enables you. Even the successes and failures can be leaned into. The learning within the process, the attempts within the process, while not being hard on ourselves about failure, allows us to have the energy to keep going.
We lose motivating energy if our thinking stops us from acting, trying and learning. If we compare our results to others who have spent more time doing something when we are starting, a beginner, we lose our energy and vitality for the task. If you focus on what is within your power to change and iterate, then you will make headway.
I remember one time, taking a painting class with my Mother. She had majored in art at University and I had never painted before. This was a discouraging process because I compared my work to hers. She had had so much more experience at painting than I did. I took a class alone instead in ceramics from a wonderfully supportive teacher. She got a lot out of me and I wasn’t comparing myself to an expert as in the first experience.
Make it about the growth, the journey, the learning, the successes and attempts along the way. When faced with too much external pressure we can forget all the positive progress we have made. Focus on how to make yourself better rather than on the end results. You can learn from others how to make your product or service better, as long as you keep trying and don’t discourage yourself with too much performance pressure. Can you focus on the learning or the next task to accomplish? Leaning and iterations are a process; we can become discouraged when we focus on the end results when we are in the process of accomplishing and creating.
There are dilemmas about work, we need to be performing and making tangible progress on tasks that are of value to our bosses and strategic to our organizations. Being on top of trends, learning and action are important. There are always external performance criteria we need to meet at work. If we are feeling that we aren’t measuring up in our thinking this could override our internal self-valuing and erode our ability to perform at work. Our internal view of ourselves is more important than the external criteria in the long run because this ability supports our performance.