When it comes to your self-worth, do you seek value or validation?
There is a world of difference between the two and self-awareness is the key to understanding it.
Your sense of value comes from an internal understanding of your ability to align your core values with your actions and behaviours, set boundaries to protect your mental and emotional health, and identify your strengths, areas for improvement, skills, and capabilities. On the other hand, validation is an external process of seeking approval from others or agreement with what you say, believe, or do. While you control your ability to self-validate, recognize, and accept your sense of worth, you have no control over validation from others, and perhaps only minor influence over what they feel towards you.
In an age where over 3 billion people take to social media daily and are bombarded by stressors from increased global chaos, the ongoing pandemic, constant distraction from notifications and news 24/7, the mix is enough to create anxiety and low self-esteem and suck you into a rabbit hole of click-bait vanity metrics that provide little more than a short-lived dopamine rush that keeps you coming back for more.
Developing your emotional intelligence allows you to gain the clarity of self-awareness and improved confidence to better regulate your emotional energy and break the validation cycle to effectively reduce your social media consumption or take a break completely.
Here are some things to try to help you recognize your value.
Inventory your strengths
Increasing your self-awareness means you can gauge your strengths, knowledge, skills, and experience and more easily identify your weaknesses to have a better chance of knowing how to work around them and not let them define you.
Remain open and listen to what others are saying
When you hear positive feedback from others, no matter how brief or simple it might seem, take note. Write it down. Break the habit of downplaying, ignoring, or forgetting positive feedback that exemplifies your value. When people tell you you’re good at something, acknowledge it because it’s true. Feedback serves to reinforce positive change which increases your self-worth and helps you avoid the unquenchable thirst for constant validation.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Don’t measure your worth against others. There are always going to be people whose skills, experience and knowledge are at a higher level than yours, and by comparing yourself to them you may be undervaluing your worth. Expertise is relative. Just remember that skills, experience, and knowledge are all things that are accumulated and developed over time. The next time you feel the need to compare yourself with others, then compare yourself to the version of yourself of five (or ten) years past. Would you trade the expertise you have today for what you had yesterday?
Your interests count
Consider your interests outside of your professional network and how they contribute to your value. Maybe you’re a leader on a sports team, perhaps you enjoy cooking, or it could be that you’re a blooming photographer. These activities offer transferrable skills in their ways: leadership, critical skills, and creativity. If you can bring the skills you develop in your personal life to your profession, you’re immediately increasing your value.
Track your success
Just as you can track the positive feedback you receive, do the same for your successes. Not only does this help you see your value, but it lets you see the bigger picture more clearly. Knowing how your contributions play out makes a difference and helps you further recognize your value.
Bringing it all together
With increased self-awareness, you’ll learn to recognize your self-worth to become the CEO of your own life, identify what you control and what you don’t, gain a deeper understanding of what you can change within yourself, and how to better respond to external stimuli.