Randy grew up poor, with a chaotic family. His father drank too much and his mother ate too much. Both of them were so enmeshed in their own comfort behaviors they had very little time, energy, or money left for their four children, who tended to fend for themselves.
Randy was ashamed of his family; ashamed of his father’s drinking and general lack of ambition, and ashamed of his mother’s obesity. It seemed like the components other families had to make them happy, such as a successful dad and a pretty mom, were denied him. Because he didn’t have the right kind of family or very much money, Randy felt he had to work harder to be accepted in school by the more popular kids. He got a job as soon as he could, which enabled him to have money. A new world opened up for him.
The harder Randy worked, the more successful he was at his job. After he graduated from high school, Randy tried a few classes at community college but never really stuck with them because of his job, which was taking off. Before long, he was an assistant manager.
Randy felt like he had the power to reinvent himself as someone successful. This time, it didn’t have anything to do with who his family was. He was in charge of his success and self-worth. The only problem was his self-doubt moved right along with him. Randy may have left his family behind, but the shame he felt stayed with him. Whenever that shame threatened to resurface, he pushed it down by weaving his sense of worth tighter into his successful career.
And then the economy tanked, and Randy began to seriously fear for his job. Twenty years out of high school and all of that insecurity came rushing back. If he lost his job, Randy felt he would lose himself. Without his job, he was nothing. How could he hope to keep his family together? His kids would look down on him like he’d looked down on his own father. Randy was in a state of absolute panic, and his anxiety was affecting his health, family, and job.
There is a reason why the term self-worth starts with self. It is not the worth of a person acknowledged and accepted by others; it is rather the worth of a person acknowledged and accepted by self. This self-worth is one of the key components in our ability to love ourselves. If we see ourselves as worthless, it’s very difficult to generate self-love. Because validation is such an important need, it simply cannot be trusted to others alone. We must be able to validate ourselves.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking your worth as a person comes from what you do instead of who you are. It is also easy to see your worth as being reflected off others of shining out from inside. When you allow other people or outside situations to provide your validation, you make yourself hostage to them.
When we validate ourselves, we recognize our worth. Notice I didn’t say generate our worth or create our worth. Each of us has a worth, a value that we did not generate, create, or cause for ourselves. This value is inherent in us as people; this value is a gift from God.
If you are struggling with self-worth, anxiety, or depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.