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Worthiness as a Practice

Why knowing your value is the priceless.

Key points

  • Knowing your value is essential for self care.
  • Like anything else, worthiness takes practice to get better at it.
  • Keeping ourselves filled up is our number one job. What is in the cup is for us; the overflow is for everyone else.
Photo by Monstera/Pexels
Source: Photo by Monstera/Pexels

When it comes to personal growth and making positive changes, it seems that we often focus on the externals. We say things to ourselves such as I should really go to the gym more, eat more veggies, start saving money, and learn to set boundaries.

It does not seem to be nearly as intuitive for us to take a look at why it might be difficult for us to take care of ourselves, why it may be so much easier to take care of others, and why we are looking for our good feels to come from alcohol, shopping, people-pleasing, or an addiction to a packed schedule. We cannot take care of a self we do not value.

Unworthiness is the root of people-pleasing, rescuing, and burnout.

Let’s start here. Simply put, we cannot give what we do not have. This is quite basic, as if the well is dry. There is no water to give. Yet, we continue to try as if there were a purple heart waiting for us to prove to the world that we are willing to run ourselves into the ground for external approval. However, we are not always aware that the craving for external approval and the compulsive need to swoop in and meet the needs of others before ourselves come from a lack of feeling worthy.

It is also important to distinguish between mindful giving and mindless giving. Mindful giving is authentic and rejuvenating, whereas mindless giving is driven by the ego's need for approval and appreciation. This leaves us feeling depleted and may lead to resentment.

Mindless giving reminds me of the children’s book, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The story is about a tree and a little boy. As the boy grows up, he continues to ask the tree for her to give to him in various ways; first, it’s her shade, then branches to build a house, apples to sell for money, with his last ask being a request to cut down her trunk to make a canoe. Finally, when the little boy grew into a tired old man, he approached the tree one last time, telling her he needed a quiet place to sit and rest.

As the tree had given the man everything she had, all left was a stump, so the tree responded with, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” The old man sat on the stump, and the book ends with, “and the tree was happy (Silverstein, 1992)” Seriously? The book's title would be far more descriptive if it were Codependency for Kids. No one should aspire to become a stump.

The characteristics of burnout and the symptoms of depression are not much different.

Source: Photo by Rodnae/Pexels
Source: Photo by Rodnae/Pexels

We teach people how to treat us.

Like it or not, we are walking balls of energy, sending out messages all day by what we put out there. If you have ever noticed someone walk into the room, which is oozing with authentic confidence, most often, heads turn, and people listen. They have a certain charismatic energy that is captivating. Authenticity has swag.

The opposite is also true when one is not feeling worthy. Unworthiness presents insecure and needy energy, which people also pick up on rather quickly and unconsciously configure these messages into their programming to evaluate the interaction. There is a spectrum of doormat vibes to respect me vibes, and they are trying to figure out where you land on this spectrum and how they should treat you. The sobering truth is if you don’t treat yourself well, no one else will either. It all comes down to worthiness.

A common example is a dating relationship when one partner is mistreated by the other. She breaks up with them, and then lo and behold, a new partner shows up wearing a different outfit. This will continue indefinitely until she does the inner work of worthiness practice.

The Practice of Worthiness

  1. Drop the stigma. The first thing to do is let go of thoughts of self-care as being selfish or label it as your new selfish, which is healthy and full of value. #selfcareisNOTselfish
  2. Start a daily gratitude journal. Each day after you wake up and before anything else (other than making that essential cup of coffee or tea), jot down three things you are grateful for. These must include the words “I am grateful for” and then fill in the rest. After about 21 days, you will notice a difference, as this is the approximate time it takes a habit to shift and stick (Duhigg, 2014). Gratitude is the master key to happiness.
  3. Mirror work. While you are already on the gratitude track, step in front of the mirror daily. Look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself something you are grateful for about yourself. Once you gain strength from this daily exercise, tell yourself, “I love you.” Go for the gold.
  4. Set the bar for doing your best. This is important in general, as doing our best is all we can ask of ourselves or do on any given day. If you are doing well with your worthiness practice and then find yourself sliding into a moment of self-deprecation, show yourself some kindness and patience. Breathe deeply and start your day over no matter what time it is.
  5. Be present as much as possible. To strengthen our inner lives by becoming acquainted with our authentic selves, we need to be present at the moment. This is how we become aware of old, unhealthy patterns of thinking and the emotions attached to the thoughts.
  6. Clear out the junk. Being present brings us awareness which will only get better. As we begin to become more aware of old patterns clogging up our minds, we can begin the process of clearing out the junk to make way for new and healthy ways of thinking. Think of this as mental spring cleaning.
  7. Reprogram. Once we begin to clear out the junk of toxic self-talk and negative emotion, we have paved the way to begin replacing the old patterns of thought with brand new dialogue full of positivity and self-value.
  8. Fake it ‘till you make it. There is a lot to be said for this old trick that can work like a charm when we are just getting started and feel like we need a push. Pull your shoulders back, hold yourself in a confident posture, and make good eye contact. Just remember that we can learn to become comfortable feeling uncomfortable while we adjust and that people are not mind-readers. They can’t see what you are telling yourself.
  9. Start setting boundaries. Now that you have advanced with your worthiness practice, you are ready to begin (or improve with) setting boundaries. Once you can consistently set appropriate boundaries without hesitation or guilt, congratulate yourself, as you have earned your blackbelt in worthiness. Good boundary-setters know their value. Doing a happy dance to celebrate this huge success is very ok.
  10. Surround yourself with good people. People who value themselves tend to hang around others who do the same. Authenticity attracts authenticity. This also means that you may need to weed the garden a bit, as far as detaching from or spending less time with those who may not bring growth or joy to you anymore.
  11. Keep yourself filled up. This is our number one job. We need to keep our cups filled and overflowing. What is inside is for us; whatever overflows is for everybody else.

Like anything else, where we invest our energy is where we improve. There is no Worthiness Fairy who sprinkles self-value dust on us. We must put effort in each day as we inevitably improve our practice. Worthiness is no different.


Duhigg, Charles (2014). The power of habit. Why we do what we do in life and business. New York, NY: Random House.

Silversteen, S. (1992). The giving tree. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

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