How to foster a feeling of self-worth
I want to talk about how to help yourself feel worthy of anything. When you are trying to make changes in yourself and are questioning whether or not you even deserve to have a different life, it can be really difficult to believe that you even deserve you do. So, I’m going to frame this in a comparison to weight loss. We have all struggled with this issue at some time in our lives. Maybe you have put on a lot of weight after you had a baby. Maybe you haven’t been exercising as much as you used to. Maybe you’ve moved into a more sedentary job. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, all you know is that you’ve started to gain some weight and you’re unhappy about it. But most of us know that when it comes to losing weight it doesn’t really start with dieting and exercising. If you really want to lose weight and KEEP it off, you have to change your eating habits and that is hard to do. But even more important: you also have to change your way of thinking so that you believe you deserve to lead a healthier life. Being able to believe this is actually the key to losing weight and maintaining your weight loss.
Look at the people you admire
If you take a look around and note the people who you admire what kind of qualities do they have? Is it that they are skinny? Probably not. Do they know how to tell the best jokes? Again, probably not. Do they exude good character and integrity? Oh, now we are getting somewhere.If you focus only on their physical appearance you will definitely start to think, “Oh, I can never be that —> insert word here: [skinny… pretty… glowing…] The point is that you will NEVER be able to measure up to what is probably an idealized version of another person.That is why I believe that in order to beat BPD, you have to literally change the way you think. That’s not to say that you have to adopt a “Little Engine That Could” mentality. But you certainly have to believe that you can and do deserve to have a better lot in life. This is really tied to one’s self-esteem and so that is a good place to start.
Building self-esteem can be a real challenge
Building self-esteem can be a real challenge. It’s sort of like building confidence but a little different from that. Confidence is being able to walk into a room and not automatically comparing yourself to everyone else who is already in there. Self-esteem is being able to walk into a room and knowing that you have something valuable to contribute to the conversation. Good self-esteem will allow you to be comfortable in knowing that although you might be a different kettle of fish from everyone else you know, that it doesn’t mean you are less worthy, just that you are different.
Growing up in an invalidating environment contributes to low self-esteem
I think a lot of people with BPD grow up in very invalidating environments. Their parents may have not told them that they were smart, pretty, clever, well-spoken. We learn our self-esteem from our family of origin so if you never heard those things from the people in your universe you won’t likely believe those things about yourself. The process starts with sitting down and taking stock of yourself. Truly. Without judging, think not just about things you know you are good at but also about the things you enjoy. Then choose the one thing on the list that you enjoy the most. Next, you are going to teach yourself how to be an EXPERT on that subject. So, if you’re interested in something like the Black Death, like I am, you are going to read everything you can get your hands on about the Black Death and really study it. Talk about it with your friends (go on, BORE them to death!). I once spent an entire summer becoming the Best Cinnamon Bun Baker in my neighborhood. Doing something like this will give you something you can point to and give yourself validation for a job well done. I once worked with a woman who did this exercise. She enjoyed watching movies so we decided that she would teach herself how to be a GREAT movie critic. She spent the whole summer reading critiques written by other writers, studying what they looked for and how they determined what was a good movie and what was not. Then she spent the next several months watching a wide variety of new movies and writing critiques. It was amazing to watch how she honed that skill. When all was said and done, she felt that she had developed a very good skill and she derived self-esteem from it and that allowed her to let herself feel deserving of many other things like creating a better life for herself and being happier in general. How does this help you feel worthy of anything? Well, by being able to say “This is something I am really, really good at! And I deserve to be proud of that!”