There is what would seem in our modern society a significant problem with undervaluing our worth. We seem to find it easy to value those we love and our possessions, yet for some reason, we regularly sink into a big black hole when it comes to the value we place on ourselves.
Why is this so? For you, is it that you were taught in life to put everyone else first? Do you struggle to project your value in your workplace? Or do you struggle to project your value appropriately in every part of your life, including your relationships?
I see too frequently people struggling to ask for what they need and deserve in life. For as long as I can remember, people have sought my advice regarding asking for a pay rise or representing their value in salary negotiations for a job. The inability to seek an appropriate salary for the work you do, it not simply a lack of negotiation skills in the workplace. It is a clear reflection of your lack of belief in your self worth in general. When we believe within ourselves that we are valuable, it becomes easy to stand that line and defend our position. However, when we lack value internally for ourselves, it is easy for others to push back, and dictate or propose our value on our behalf.
I developed my career early in life, and for some reason, I never hesitated in asking for what I was worth when it came to negotiating my salary. If my requirements were not met, I was always prepared to walk away. It still surprises people today that I have done this many times, not just professionally either, but personally as well. When your value is known within you, your gauge that does not settle for anything less is triggered, and you step up with confidence.
Undervaluing yourself in your work is a significant shortcoming, not only in negotiating what you will be paid, but more importantly, in managing your self-worth. When you choose to undervalue yourself, you give others permission to do the same, and it is a slippery slide that is better to get off early before the slope becomes too steep.
So the question is, how did we get there? What happened that made us undervalue ourselves?
You don’t just wake up one day no longer valuing yourself. It is a slow and progressive road, where you can reverse up and re-collect the self-worth that you lost at any time. You always have choices, even when you think there are none.
I describe it as traversing the river of life. The river is long. Some days the river has rapids and some days clear water. Sometimes on the way down the river of life, you get snagged by a tree overhanging the banks, and you leave a piece of you behind. These snags are imprints left on you by experiences that caused an uncomfortable reaction that wasn’t resolved at the time. Over time we develop a story about this imprint, which creates lasting and deep wounds within us. Each subsequent time the topic is broached that caused the imprint, we pick off the scab, and below the irritation remains festering for sometimes what seems like a lifetime.
Your self-worth lies below these imprints, often left behind early in life as a child. The good news is you are an adult, and at any time you can go back up the river of life and collect the self-worth once lost. It is much easier to do this and solve your problem at the root cause than constantly applying bandaids and undervaluing yourself throughout life.
You see, once you go back to reflect where your self-worth was lost, you can rationalise it as an adult, and the situation looks much different in reflection. This allows you to finally take back the part of you that you had once left behind. I have done this on many occasions in my adult life, and have had the pleasure to teach many to do the same. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to reflect, and regather the parts of you once left behind. Then you can begin to travel the river of life whole again.
The key is to solve the problem that caused you to undervalue yourself in the first place. Then and only then can you stand on a solid ground of self-worth and then teach others in every part of your life to value you the same way you value yourself.
Value, in this case, acts much like a giant mirror. When we undervalue ourselves, others simply mirror our behaviour. Change does not come from others. It exists within your control. Begin today to go back and reinstate your self-worth so that you may teach others the same.
By far the opinion that counts the most in life, is the opinion you have of yourself. Not the opinion that you think, the opinion that you feel! Why? Because the opinion you have of yourself will be reflected in the opinions that others shine back upon you. The power to change it all rests within you.
Want to know more about how mindfulness can help you lead with your heart, to avoid the black hole of undervaluing your self-worth? Follow my new YouTube channel, ‘the art of mindful disruption’.