It’s good for you to be #1 at times

Trying to have a normal life in the pandemic means that you forget about your needs and desires. However, this comes with a price as you start thinking your needs are not essential, which eventually leads to diminished self-worth.

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How often do we act on our thoughts, ‘I have to buy this outfit, even though it is not my birthday or in my budget”? Not as often as we should.

We get in the habit of attending to our needs only after meeting our loved ones’ needs. We plan and strategize, so they feel happy and fulfilled, as we believe that our near and dear ones are worth our efforts. 

Ignoring our needs affects our ability to practise self-care as we get a diminished sense of living. It can lead to the loss of our dreams of having a better future for ourselves. A young, single individual with limited income looks after their friend’s children as they feel sad for the family. This individual reported being depressed as they could not find the time and money to further their education.

One of the signs of depression is having thoughts of worthlessness. Essential health care appointments are postponed indefinitely, even though the individual knows that they have serious health problems. I got a breakthrough when I could have my client visit the optometrist after a gap of many years. Other accompanying signs of having stronger self-worth were that my 60-year-old client is less irritable with their partner and feels more robust. This individual was referred for marital problems. Being the oldest of five children, their mother told them to look after their siblings.

Adolescents face tremendous challenges daily, which can cause feelings of worthlessness, leading to self-sabotaging behaviours. In this case, teens can be encouraged to explore their environment to find safe avenues like volunteering, thereby enabling them to accept and value their efforts and decisions.

Our self-worth is determined by external factors when we have failed to invest in ourselves. Having healthy self-esteem or a realistic evaluation of our qualities does not translate to having high self-worth. Many successful people feel unlovable and lonely, despite having all the trappings of success. 

Even if our self-worth has been relatively stable for an extended period, it can be affected after a traumatic breakup or a job loss, leading to worthless feelings. 

Working towards having better self-worth can be difficult, as self-worth is often confused with narcissism. Both involve prioritizing one’s needs above everything else. A vital distinction is that narcissists usually have troubled interpersonal relationships due to a lack of empathy and an unrealistic sense of self-importance. 

Practicing meditation and mindfulness can help you better evaluate your worthiness as you become more attentive to your feelings. It will help you to minimize your feelings of guilt for ‘neglecting’ your loved one’s needs, as you had to take a much-needed break, like going for your weekly online Zumba classes.

As long as you remember and value yourself, you will make the right decisions worthy of you. Life is unpredictable – having healthy self-worth will help you to roll with the punches of life.

Fred Rogers, the host of the American television show ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,’ has succinctly captured the essence of self-worth when he would ask his viewers, both adults and children, “Well, what is essential about you?”

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.

The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;

 Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.

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