“Excuse me, is this the Halley Center*?” I asked lightly and opened the office door a few inches.
That first moment when you walk into a therapist’s office can feel frightening and dreadful, but you made it there and that is the hardest part…well, sometimes the hardest part.
You can binge-read self-development books, watch Netflix documentaries on Vulnerability and read every inspiring quote on Instagram, but none of that is going to single-handedly grant you ultimate self-worth.
In my case, it often left me feeling less-than I already felt that I was. That negative self-talk of “Look at the great book that you didn’t write” or “You are too afraid to say something that profound in public.” would kick into overdrive.
So I stopped it. I put it all away and instead listened to the single sentence my therapist told me.
We had gotten into a deep discussion about self-worth and standing in your truth. I told her, I felt like I had to hide who I was in order to make sure everyone around me felt good about themselves. All I wanted was for people to feel good.
“Stop right there,” she said. “The first day you walked into this office it was as if you were apologizing for existing.”
I didn’t understand what she meant, so she explained further…
“Your shoulders were crouched down, you walked lightly as if not to make a sound and you spoke so softly I could barely hear you a few feet away from me. You didn’t even make eye contact when we met.”
“Okay…” I replied back.
“That is not at all who you are and you need to start showing the real you,” she concluded.
She then gave me homework, as all therapists like to do. Homework can be fun like art therapy, or incredibly painful, like speaking your truth to a loved one.
My homework was the one thing that started me on the path to building Self-Worth:
“Go somewhere, as many places as possible, and stand there like you own the place. Be tall, keep your head up and your shoulders back. When you walk up to someone speak louder than you would ever want to and look them straight in the eye.”
So I did it, I spent a day where I went to a grocery store, two coffee shops and a networking event doing just that. I also wore heels (because that makes me close to 5’10’’…quite tall for a young lady).
And get this, I was sitting at coffee shop number two when a middle-aged gentleman walked by and introduced himself and said, “I am sorry to interrupt you but I have to say, you are all class. Everything about you is classy. And that is not something you see anymore. Thank you.”
He abruptly walked away to leave me in a state of shock and awe. Immediately I sat even taller and felt like I was really on to something.
It sounds so simple, yet it works and here is why:
1. It makes you stand out, whether you want it or not.
The truth is, we all need connection, and if you walk around hiding from everyone and everything isolation will hit, and you being deprived human connection will quickly lead to feeling worthless.
Strong posture and a powerful presence will ensure that you are not left alone. People are naturally drawn to someone with confidence, and if you stand as if you have it, guess who is going to be attracting others-you.
This attraction will be for the right reasons, and with enough practice, you will be able to step into the conversation and start creating a community of people to engage with.
2. It makes you feel more powerful.
Self-worth is not something that anyone else can give you. Yes, others can lift you up and give you words of encouragement. But only you are able to authentically define your worth. That is a lesson in and of itself.
So when you stand tall, you actually begin to feel differently. Studies have found that holding an expansive posture actually generates greater feelings of power and increases risk-taking.
I am not saying stand like superwomen for 1 minute and you will become an addicted gambler. It is more subtle like, you walk into a networking event standing tall with arms opened and you will feel more adept at talking to a group of strangers.
3. How others perceive you, directly impacts how you perceive yourself.
We are who we think other people think that we are.
That sentence is a mouthful to digest, however, it’s idea is correct.
We all walk around with this idea of how others perceive us, and that is who we believe ourselves to be. So, when you start presenting yourself as an assertive and confident person by standing tall and strong, that is how others will perceive you, and thus how you will perceive yourself in time.
In the lovely words of Bob Marley…”Get up…Stand up…”
Stand up for your self-worth.
This article first appeared on Medium.