One of the ironies of life

“A person’s worth in this world is estimated according to the value they put on themselves.” ~Jean De La Bruyere

I’ve spent much of my life looking to others to determine my own worth. This was a recipe for many ups and downs depending on what feedback I was getting from other people at any given time. The biggest challenge, though, was the fact that no two people ever completely agreed on their assessment of me—what one person thought worthy of praise, someone else was equally critical of.

This meant that no matter how hard I tried, there was always at least one critical voice out there telling me that I didn’t quite measure up. There was no way to ever be my authentic self when all my energy was going toward proving my worth to these critics out there. It was not a good way to live.

In the last year or so, I’ve done so many things that I knew that people around me would not approve of. I’ve had to let go of this need to prove my worth to other people because it was the only way I could keep moving forward on the path I knew I needed to follow. I’ve slowly started basing my assessment of worth on what I think.

I still fall back into old patterns all too easily, but I am discovering that the more I rely on my own assessment of my worth, the better I’m starting to feel about myself and the more positively other people seem to see me. The fact that I am feeling better about myself doesn’t surprise me all that much; it’s easier to please just one person than to try to please everyone as I was doing before. The fact that other people seem to see me more positively when I’m living more to please myself than to please them was a surprising result to me. I had expected the opposite.

In fact, I’ve had numerous people reflect back to me in the last week or two that they see me in a much more positive light than I would ever had expected. Some of these are people who I really look up to who have been telling me that they admire me! It’s been quite surprising. I must admit that it’s been nice getting this sudden influx of positive feedback, but it hasn’t really affected my opinion of me. There was a time that this kind of feedback would have been something I would have craved and receiving it would have sent me on a temporary emotional high (until the next bit of criticism came along anyway). Now, it’s really pleasant to hear such good things, but it doesn’t change my evaluation of my worth.

Oddly enough, even areas that I have finally come to accept that who I am is not who I wish I was seem to be softening through this process. The feedback that I am socially awkward has been consistent enough that I’ve finally accepted that it is just part of who I am. However, the full acceptance of this part of me (even though I wish it was otherwise) has freed me from the need to try to be anything other that who I am, and this letting go of the worry about how other people are reacting to me has actually seemed to make people less uncomfortable around me. I’ve been in several social situations lately where people actually seemed to enjoy having me around. Again, there is a time this would have caused a huge emotional high at the sense of validation this would have provided. Now I just find it to be faintly surprising reaction from other people, but because I am not overly concerned with whether or not they approve of me, I am otherwise unmoved.

Somewhere along the line I seem to have decided that I have value just as I am. There will always be people who criticize and disapprove, but that’s just part of life. Overall, my placing value on myself seems to be increasing the worth that other people place on me as well. It’s so ironic to me that the route to achieving this long-desired increase in my worth in the eyes of others stems directly from not needing it anymore. Life is full of ironies like that.

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