Do you ever come across a meme or graphic in your social feeds and it just kind of knocks the wind out of you? Something that speaks so much truth to you that you let out a little gasp?
When I saw the following image while scrolling my Instagram feed it really hit home. And of course this came from Brene Brown’s account, the ultimate goddess of vulnerability (if you haven’t seen her original TED talk here you go, you’re welcome).
There are two big lies in this image for me that hit home: “I am what I do” and “I am what other people say about me.”
As I’m getting older, I’m spending more time thinking about these two things. I have always connected my self-worth with how well I’m doing in my career and I’m just starting to see that perhaps that is an unhealthy connection. Can I have worth simply for being on this planet? Can I unlink my productivity from my self-esteem? Why is this so incredibly hard for me?
Truth be told I haven’t made much progress on this one. I still feel better about myself when I’m “accomplishing” things. I pride myself on being someone that takes initiative. I feel like my time should always be spent doing things, to the level that when I do have down time, there’s a little voice in my head that tells me I’m not doing enough.
That little voice is amplified sometimes by social media. Ah, social media, I love it and I hate it. I love it because it does so much good, and I’ve creating lasting connections and community through it. But in those moments when I start to feel insecure that I’m not “doing enough” I fall victim to the comparison game. I’ll scroll my Insta feed and see my friends doing all sorts of cool activities in their leisure time and wonder how in the world are they pulling everything off? It’s an illusion, I know, but it’s a powerful one.
Tied up with my desire for achievement is my sensitivity to other people’s beliefs about me. At least with this one I’ve been able to do a good amount of growth in my adult years and I don’t always feel wounded when I feel like someone is not able to see me for who I am. I’m able to use compassion to understand that sometimes people see us as *they* are, not as we are. And that understanding helps me to not take things as personally. This doesn’t work every time, but when it does I feel like a stronger person.
We all have our struggles and we are all on our own paths. Part of my path is untangling my self-worth from outside sources, like my job and the opinions of others. For you, it may be something else. I think we all want to feel peaceful, worthy, and good, and the answer comes from knowing we are already all of those things, if we look inside ourselves and not out.