written by John Niland
There’s a lot written about self-love and self-compassion. Kristin Neff’s book on the subject is a classic, and I also appreciate Christopher Germer’s book on Mindful Self-Compassion. Both books make good reading for anyone struggling with self-love.
Nevertheless, I still see self-worth as an often neglected root of both self-love and self-compassion. If we are going to be kind to ourselves, this presupposes that we feel we deserve this. For people like me, the difficulty did not lie in the practice of self-love, but rather in the feeling that I didn’t deserve such indulgence, until I had… finished my work / reached a certain goal / etc. In other words, my sense of deserving was conditional. Just like my self-esteem.
The “Self-Worth Safari” is about establishing a sense of unconditional deserving. This is a brand new experience for many people.
Do you deserve to take care of yourself, yes, even before you answer your emails?
Do you deserve to think well of yourself, no matter what your boss or client says?
Is your sense of deserving somehow linked to your next appraisal at work, or the affections of a special person?
Our sense of deserving is fashioned by education, family, religion and society. When people rant about “entitled Millennials”, I often hear the a bass line of “undeserving” in the counterpoint melody underneath. Hence their anger. Personally, I marvel at young people who have an intrinsic sense of deserving: it’s like observing another species with wonder, even delight!
Sure, a sense of “deserving” can create its own problems. But for people with low self-worth, those problems are often a distant dream. In every age-group, I see far more evidence of low self-worth than the opposite. Even when people are narcissistic and self-involved, this often stems from low self-worth rather than innate self-assurance. That’s why they need to prove themselves all the time.
If we can look at self-worth as the root of self-love and self-compassion, in other words, if we can focus on understanding that we are deserving of love and compassion, then it’s easier to be kinder to ourselves.
If this topic resonates with you, join the Self-Worth Safari conversation which starts on September 12th at 18:00 (London time).