“You give me permission to own my self-worth.”
That’s one of the most common things I hear from clients during coaching. And although it might seem a little odd – needing permission to own your self-worth – that’s really how it is for most of us.
It’s as if we’ve somehow been conditioned to think that self-worth must be earned, granted or given to us.
Think about it for a minute.
If you look at your past, how many times have you asked for permission to receive something you want or need?
It starts when you’re little – asking your parents for permission. . .
“Mom, may I have a snack?”
“Dad, can you take me to the store?”
But as you mature into adulthood, you might notice that you’re still asking for permission to get your needs met. It doesn’t occur to you that you actually have an innate right to your own worth.
Instead, you jump through hoops just to get noticed or seek approval from others to earn and even prove your worth – your right to take space on this planet!
Reading this now, you might notice how absurd this really sounds . . the idea that you need to seek permission to own your self-worth. But the truth is that until you learn to give yourself permission to fully own yourself – your value – you are going to continue to seek it from others.
Let me share some examples of how seeking permission to own your worth might be showing up in your life today.
You really want to go see a concert in town this weekend, but you know your spouse doesn’t really like the venue. Your first thought isn’t about how you can make this happen – no, your first thought is how can you appease them. How can you make this palatable so they might “let” you go or better yet accompany you in something you might enjoy?
Or, when it comes time to ask your boss for a raise or increase your rates with clients, you get stuck and start to trip over your words. You find yourself asking for less than you know you deserve or finishing a sentence with, “ . . . is that ok?”
Or, when it comes to spending money on something you want, you run through all of the things you need to buy for everyone else and then slowly put the item you’ve been looking at back on the shelf – you tell yourself that you really don’t need it and that everyone else’s needs come first!
Now, you might wonder how that last example is about seeking permission when you’re really not checking in with anyone else?
When it comes to seeking permission to own our value and worth – many of us have learned to stuff our needs so far down that we’ve given up even asking for permission — or anything at all.
It’s pretty subtle, but the truth is that if your first thought is about others or how your decision to meet your needs might impact them, you’re still asking for permission to own your worth.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider others or manage your finances in a responsible manner – quite the opposite.
But what I am saying is that when it comes to owning self-worth, you might be hard wired to looking to others first for approval rather than to giving it to yourself – unconditionally.
And in truth, it’s not really your fault.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re conditioned from an early age that in order to be a good person, we must consider others’ needs before our own.
And even if your parents told you that you were important, society, teachers and “friends” all kept hammering home this subtle message – if you want to be liked, good or approved of, you must seek permission and gain approval of others before you can claim your worth!
The problem with this kind of thinking is that we perpetually feel like we aren’t good enough.
If you’re always looking to others to give you permission to be ok, you’ll never truly be ok with yourself.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Despite what you’ve learned or heard, it is possible for you to own your self-worth without seeking permission from others.
It’s one of the biggest ah-ha’s my clients get from coaching with me. Because when you discover that you really don’t need others to tell you that you’re enough, a whole world of possibility opens up for you!
So, how do you go about doing that?
How do you actually learn to break your patterns of seeking approval and permission and allow yourself to be enough?
The first step is always becoming aware of your own patterns when it comes to self-worth.
One question you can ask yourself is “Am I seeking permission from others to put myself first?”
And although that seems simple, reminding yourself that you don’t need to seek permission to put yourself first can be powerful. By asking that one question, you wake yourself from autopilot and are able to make more conscious choices about what your needs are.
The other thing you might consider is in my book, Worthy, I have an exercise called TRY UNCONDITIONAL LOVE ON FOR SIZE.
In this exercise, you’ll explore the differences between conditional and unconditional love, as well as discover what it means to put yourself first so that when it comes to seeking permission from others, you’ll learn that you never needed it in the first place.
1. Think about the ways you’re currently trying to prove your worth. Do you try to prove it by overachieving at work? Do you try to prove it in relationships by putting others first? I tried to prove my worth by being indispensable at work and trying to buy my husband’s love. Write down the ways you try to prove your worth at work, at home, with relatives, or with friends.
2. What would it feel like to love yourself unconditionally—not to have to earn your worth? What would it feel like to have love in your heart, just for you? Could you still love yourself if you were penniless and had nothing? Close your eyes and really feel what that would be like.
3. Think of the person you love most in the world—perhaps an innocent child whom you feel is 100 percent worthy of love. Now, turn that love back on yourself, and imagine loving yourself that much. Does it feel comfortable or uncomfortable? What would have to shift internally for you to really love yourself that much? What would you have to give up to love yourself unconditionally? Your beliefs about your unworthiness? Write down any thoughts that come to mind.
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