One of the major themes that caught my attention this month was the idea of self-worth. Specifically with those struggling with an addiction or eating disorder, self-worth is often linked to long-standing cemented beliefs that their value and worthiness are dependent on false ideals and extrinsic factors completely unrelated to their actual identity as a person. Often times, these distortions can be linked all the way back to even the smallest messages received in childhood.
Whether or not you struggle or have struggled with a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse or an eating disorder, self-worth is a very loaded topic for us all. So this gets me thinking, where do we find our self-worth and how do we measure it?
Obviously, this answer will vary person-to-person, but some ideas that come to mind from my experience working in this field, and just from being a human myself, include :
how much money you have. Sometimes people feel like they can’t acquire enough wealth to be valuable enough, but money does not equal worthiness.
how you look. From the number on the scale, to the number of calories you eat/don’t eat a day, to the number of push-ups you do or miles you can run, to the latest plastic surgery, this is a big one in our society.
what others think of you. Let’s not pretend that we haven’t dealt with this one at some point in our lives. Separating our own opinions, desires, goals, or likes or dislikes, from those of others - especially people we naturally seek belonging, love, and approval from- can be very difficult.
I believe that it is all really about balance. Some of the things that I mentioned can be healthy to a point, but more than likely, quickly turn into a slippery slope due to demanding unrealistic expectations or ideals about things that may not actually define who you are on the inside, as a human, a friend, a parent, or a child. So my hope is that as a community, we will continue to be cognizant of the tempting, yet dysfunctional, ideas of what makes people valuable or worthy of love and belonging. There are far healthier and more productive ways for us to define our self-worth, and while I can’t tell you what those things may be for you, I encourage you to reflect on how you tend to measure your self-worth, and where your worth really lies.