How to Put Your Worth First
Can we all agree that 2021 is the year we let go of the shit that just isn’t ours to carry? In my work as a self-worth coach, I support clients who struggle with their sense of self-worth and empowerment. I see every day in this work that so many of us have been socialized over the course of our lives to take on responsibility for things that, in reality, are very much NOT our job. It is a gift to illuminate these.
It’s not your job to keep other people happy.
Read that again: Other people’s happiness is not your responsibility. This is especially relevant if you struggle with people-pleasing or codependency—chronically prioritizing other people’s needs and desires above your own. Subverting your own needs to keep other people happy can begin to feel like the natural and logical choice, but it serves no one! When we take responsibility and ownership of others’ happiness, we not only deprioritize our own needs, we disempower others and take away their autonomy over their own lives.
It’s not your job to “fix” or change another person.
First, no one needs to be “fixed” so let’s just take that one off the table right now.
When someone we love is struggling, it is natural to want to support them as they move in a healthy direction. When we take on responsibility for someone else’s growth or evolution, we place pressure on ourselves for something that is entirely outside of our control: the actions and choices of someone else.
We also know that when it comes to making meaningful change in our lives, the desire to change and evolve must come from within in order for that change to really stick. This means that changing anyone else is decidedly OUTSIDE of your job description, friend. There is exactly one person who you have the responsibility to change, and that’s y-o-u.
When we believe that human worth is something to be pursued and earned, we feel the need to continuously prove our own to the people around us.Aubree Henderson
It’s not your job to endure shitty treatment.
Be honest: Have you ever been in a relationship or a friendship where someone treated you like garbage, and you thought to yourself this is just how they are or I can let this go to show them I really love them?
Many of us have not only tolerated bad behavior, but we have believed that it’s actually OUR responsibility to grin and bear it, to get through to the other party and show that we can stick it out. We may have even convinced ourselves that this is a way to prove ourselves in our relationships, to show that we are uniquely kind and tolerant and loving.
In reality, the acceptance of harmful treatment is only that—harmful. You deserve better than to have to accept pain and mistreatment from others; that is not your burden to carry.
It’s not your job to stay quiet to keep others comfortable.
Ok, so, spoiler alert: this is a HARD ONE to unlearn. It is deeply programmed for many of us, an expectation we’ve been socialized all of our lives to accept. Maybe you were a child who was parentified—you had to step into more responsibility than was appropriate for a child your age, and were given the role of keeping harmony in your home. Perhaps you grew up in a chaotic environment, or with a caregiver who was emotionally volatile, and keeping the peace was a survival mechanism for you.
However you learned to keep others comfortable at all costs, it can become so ingrained that we find that we are constantly aware of other people’s emotional state and comfort. Perhaps you relate to this as an empath; you sense even the slightest shift in someone’s demeanor or vibe and wonder what you might have done to disturb their comfort.
While this can be an adaptive skill, it is also often exhausting. When we take undue responsibility for other people’s comfort, we deplete SO MUCH of our own energy—energy that is better spent in pursuit of YOUR needs, desires, and dreams. And worse than that, we betray ourselves when we place someone else’s comfort above our own authenticity.
It’s not your job to prove your worth.
Repeat after me:
It is not my job to prove that I am worthy.
There is nothing to be proven.
I have always been worthy.
My worth is immutable.
In a world where we are taught to hustle for belonging and acceptance and value, it makes sense that we feel immense pressure to constantly demonstrate our worth. When we believe that human worth is something to be pursued and earned, we feel the need to continuously prove our own to the people around us.
Guess what? This isn’t your job, either.
A strong foundation of self-worth begins with a belief that we are inherently worthy, simply for being exactly who we are. That worth can not be proven through your achievements, appearance, possessions, or relationships. Your worthiness is not dependent on you getting that promotion, or finding a partner, or having a baby, or losing the weight.
Proving your worthiness is not your job. Embodying your inherent worth and wholeness is.
Listen. I think we can agree that we are all carrying enough. What if we set down the responsibilities that aren’t our burdens to bear? What if you let yourself off the hook for these things that were never your responsibility in the first place? You’ll be amazed at how letting go of the things that don’t belong to you allows you to hold even tighter to the things that are wholly yours.
Self-worth coach Aubree Henderson helps women and queer people break up with people-pleasing, uncover their innate worth, and reconnect with their own desires. She lives in Brooklyn.