What makes us worthy?

We live in a strange society; one that tells us that our worth comes from our productivity. Our ability to work, create, produce, benefit those around us. Some people try to make us believe that we don’t deserve respect unless we fulfill certain criteria. They would have us believe that we deserve to feel valued and respected only if we have a certain job, education level, or are of a certain class or group of people. From the moment that we enter school (usually our first experience with society), we are told that certain people are more popular, come from a “better” family, or have money and that those people are more worthy than others. Many of us spend a great deal of our lives and energy trying to attain those qualities that we believe make us worthy. Because we are made to believe that it is these external accomplishments that will validate us. But this doesn’t work. It can’t work. Because worthiness isn’t something that can be attained by placing into the right college or getting the right promotion. Our sense of worth-the value that we believe we have in this world- is an internal feeling that cannot exist unless we wholeheartedly believe that we deserve it. There are people out there who may have disabilities or injuries that don’t allow them to work or be what our society considers “productive,” and some of those people suffer because they feel like they don’t they deserve to simply be here and take up space in the world. Others chase external accomplishments that they believe will make them feel whole because they have been taught that our sense of worth comes from these external sources. But it doesn’t and I’m willing to bet that if you looked deep into the minds of individuals who have attained a lot of money or status, they wouldn’t necessarily feel whole.

I believe that we have value and are worthy of love and respect simply because we are human. I know that sometimes (or often) we don’t feel like this is true. Maybe past experiences or people have made us feel like this is not true. Maybe we weren’t raised to believe that this is true. Maybe we have been beaten down so many times that we think that there must be something wrong with us for life to constantly treat us this way. To see worth in yourself where you think there is none may be one of the hardest things you will ever try to do. And I know how defeating it may be. That voice in our head, that incessant mosquito buzzing away in our ear about our failures, our mistakes, all of the reasons we aren’t good enough-there is never going to be anyone who talks to us as harshly and persistently as that voice. So it can seem impossible to feel like we are worthy when we constantly have this being constantly telling us that we are not. But I am telling you right now: You are valuable. You matter. We may not know each other but I love you and I care about you. This path to a sense of worthiness is a long, arduous one. I respect you so I cannot lie about this. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either. I want you to know that it can be done. I know you may be reading this right now and thinking to yourself that surely this does not apply to you. That you cannot possibly feel like you matter. That these words are for someone else, someone less broken. I am telling you that this post is for you. You matter, you are worthy, and you have value in this world. And until you believe it, I will be here believing it for the both of us.

Thank you for being here. I know it’s hard and you sometimes want to give up. But the world is a better place because you are here. I love you.

Here are some suggestions to help quiet that voice in our heads and raise our sense of self worth (We are all different and respond to things in our own way. If you try something on this list or otherwise and it doesn’t seem to help, I hope you keep trying. You are worth it and you deserve some peace in this crazy world. I hope this helps) :

  • Do something for others. Volunteering is a great way to give to your community, connect, and feel good about yourself. There is a huge variety of ways to get involved, from art to animals to caring for the elderly, that it often isn’t hard to find volunteer opportunities that align with your interests. VolunteerMatch is a good place to start, or you can search your local newspaper, library, or community resource for local ideas and events.

  • Journal. Keeping those thoughts in your head can stuff up your head and that’s not good for anyone. Journaling your thoughts doesn’t have to be pretty; in fact it works best when it’s not. This is a place for you to let out your innermost thoughts to a space that no one has access but you. In that way it can be quite freeing.

  • Breathe. I know this one may sound cliche and that you’ve heard it many times before. But the reason that people often suggest it is because it does work. Taking slow, intentional breaths gives you something outside of your thoughts to focus on, brings oxygen to your brain, and soothes your nervous system.

  • Be in nature. Fresh air and plants have researched and proven benefits for anyone really, but especially for those who have a lot going on in their heads. Taking a walk on the beach, going to a park, or finding a nice hiking trail are some awesome ways to get out there and get some perspective on the world around you.

  • Talk to someone. A friend, family member, or professional. There are even volunteer services, such as the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Sidewalk Talks, that exist because people understand how hard it is to keep our thoughts inside and how important it is to be heard.

  • Have a gratitude practice. I like to list at least 5 thing for which I’m grateful every single day. Even on your darkest days, I know you can find 5 things that bring you joy or that you are thankful for. Focusing on this can have a huge impact on your outlook on life.

  • Meditate. You may have heard this suggestion before and you may have even tried it but you may not know just how many different types of meditation there are. Not everyone responds to the same type of meditation, and just because the sit down and chant type doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something out there that might. My favorite types of meditation are walking meditation and visualization.

  • Get a bodywork session. Bodywork helps you focus on your external landscape, calms your nervous system, and has proven benefits for mental health.