If you’re someone who is generally down on yourself, it can be difficult to fully enjoy life. Even in more positive moments, you still have an underlying sense of being lesser than other people. It’s like an invisible anchor weighing you down. Though you may not know exactly what’s wrong, you know you’re inadequate. At least this is what you tell yourself. What you don’t realize (and what feels like could never be true) is that your deep, authentic self (not just the façade you show to others) is worthy and lovable. (Even if you think this is nonsense, do yourself a favor and don’t stop reading now.)
Despite how you might feel, you do not need to be perfect to have value. In fact, no one –and I mean no one – is flawless. Yet, when you feel broken inside, it can be incredibly difficult to grasp that you have worth. In my book Bouncing Back from Rejection, I explain it with this analogy:
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of rejoining the broken fragments of a piece of pottery with gold or other precious metals. While the repaired item may be appealing to the eye, the real beauty is in how people relate to it. The beauty is in valuing the life of the ceramic, which includes the damage that happens over time.
Similarly, to truly value yourself, it is essential to value your life’s journey. Mothers do this when they smile while looking at a stretch mark that they earned during the pregnancy of their child. Those who have endured childhood abuse do it when they appreciate that their sensitivity to others’ pain comes from the pain they have endured. It’s important to note that appreciating brokenness or imperfection as part of your life story does not mean you “should” be happy about the pain that you have endured. But you can appreciate your strength in overcoming your struggles, find value in the lessons you have learned from them, and be grateful for the resilience you have built.
To relate to yourself in these ways, you must first open up to the idea of viewing yourself with acceptance and compassion. (For an example of how to do this, see my brief video, Learning the Truth: You Are Worthy and Adequate) Once you allow for the possibility that you might not be a failure as a person, you can begin to look for signs that you are worthy and lovable.
There are many ways to strengthen your sense that having value is inherent in being human. Consciously take note of your virtues. Practice seeing your shortcomings or mistakes as part of being human. Put effort into building relationships with people who value you for who you are – and put effort into taking in the positive ways they feel toward you.
None of this is easy. It will put you in direct conflict with your inner demons. But stay with it. Continue to build compassionate self-awareness and absorb the love and caring shown to you by others. Ultimately, you will realize that you are not as flawed as you think. And you will discover a healing truth: You are inherently worthy and lovable just as you are.