“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” —Goethe
Modern society is experiencing a crisis of low self-worth. Numerous studies have found that our use of social media has led to an uptick of negative self-worth, depression, anxiety and feelings of ‘not measuring up.’
What’s the solution? Deleting our social media accounts?
Well, while I think that taking a break from social media on occasion can be valuable, I think this solution will not treat the problem at its source. Although Facebook and Twitter can heighten our feelings of poor self-worth, social media isn’t responsible for our knee-jerk reaction to shift to a place of self-loathing and self-condemnation.
Why does self-worth matter? Self-worth matters because it determines how we treat not only ourselves, but how we allow others to treat us. A person with low self-worth will not make healthy decisions about their relationships. Nor does a person with low self-worth always appear as a doormat or submissive. Some of the loudest, most aggressive and angry people often have the lowest self-worth, and it can ruin their emotional well-being as well as their marriages. In fact, as a sex therapist, I have found that self-worth is a key indicator in a relationship’s success. Without it, a marriage will falter and fail.
(I should note here that there is a difference between self-worth and self-esteem. Self-esteem is how we feel about our abilities, such as “I am a great cook” or “I can lift more than most guys at the gym.” But self-worth is more than that. It is about our value as a human being. Self-worth is recognizing that you are a unique expression of the universe and that your light is valuable and irreplaceable.)
While there are many things you can do to help re-build your self-worth and begin to live in a whole-hearted, loving state, I have personally found that one of the most powerful ways to increase your self-worth is to start living by intuition.
Yes, I think you can ‘intuit’ your way to self-worth.
What do I mean by that?
I think most of us suffer greatly because we do not trust ourselves. While much of our self-hatred seems to come from a feeling of ‘not being good enough,’ even deeper than that, I think the crux of our discomfort comes from not trusting ourselves.
Why? Because if we felt truly secure in our decisions and in the wisdom of our own bodies and hearts, we wouldn’t feel ‘less than’ when a pal gloats about her engagement or our brother-in-law gets a raise.
Instead of thinking, “Why don’t good things happen to me? What am I doing wrong? What is the matter with me?” we will deeply trust and believe that our choices are right for us. That our career path is unfolding as it should. That our relationship is secure.
And that even if something were to go wrong or if we were to be unhappy with our situations, we would have the strength, grace and grit to handle the issue. We will trust ourselves. We will know our own power. We will rest confidently in our innate abilities, and in the knowledge that each difficulty we encounter is an invitation from the universe for soul-growth.
So how can we get there? How can we begin to trust our guts and intuit our way to self-worth?
1. Make amends with your inner child. You have an internal child within you that has endured countless years of being shamed, ignored, and harmed. You cannot listen to your intuition and access your deep knowledge unless you first make amends with this inner child, as this little ball of light within you is where you will find that very wisdom. Yes, that person that you hate…the one who is weak, the one who cries too much, the one who gets scared, the one who acts ‘awkward,’ the one who needs, the one who isn’t satisfied with all the distractions and vices you offer it.
So I encourage you to begin your intuition journey by first making amends with your inner child. Find a picture of yourself from childhood or from your awkward teen years. Hang that picture in a place of honor or on your bedside nightstand. (It’s best if it is a photograph of just you, with no one else in the frame).
I want you to quietly spend at least 10-15 minutes in communion with that picture, imagining that past version of yourself is in the room with you. (After all, he is/she is, you just can’t see them.) How does the ‘Past You’ look? How do they behave? How do they smell? What mannerisms do they have? Try to bring that little you back into the present as much as you can. You might even make the invitation
out loud: “Enter, little one. Enter.”
Close your eyes and deeply feel how that past self comes to the forefront of your spirit. How does it feel to bring this child back to life? What thoughts or feelings come up for you? Pay close attention. Even the smallest shift in your physical self (a tingling in your hands, a feeling of warmth in your belly or an ache in your tailbone) are worth noting. Journal your emotions after you are through the exercise. Perform this inner child meditation at least two to three times for a week for several weeks, or for as long as it takes for you to begin to connect with that small, powerful spirit within you.
2. Practice, practice, practice. Now that you have begun to reclaim your connection to your inner child, your gut is going to be going off like crazy! You might have thought you knew what intuition was before, but after performing this inner child mediation several times, you are going to find that your internal voice is louder and more opinionated than you ever realized! It’s going to be hard to trust that voice at first. You might not want to ‘risk’ listening to your intuition when it comes to a big financial decision or a monumental life change. But, you can start to build your faith in yourself by practicing with your intuition for small decisions. How so?
Try not planning ahead for small choices such as what you are going to order at a restaurant, what you are going to wear in the morning, what route you will take to work, or what you will say to a friend over dinner. Instead, let yourself be in the uncertainty of the moment, and then visualize yourself pulling up a chair for your inner self.
Ask “What do I really want right now? What would most deeply serve me and nourish my needs?” You might find yourself making some very surprising decisions.
Your intuition might lead you to bring up your experience with sobriety to a friend who really needed to experience that conversation at that moment. Your intuition might guide you to stay late at work and finish your project…thereby meaning you missed an accident on the rails. Your intuition might tell you to order a healthy meal for dinner instead of opting for pizza, meaning that you save yourself a bellyache later.
3. Spend time in quiet each day. A quiet heart is an open heart. You cannot hear your inner voice if your external world is loud. Nor do I just mean loud in a literal sense. Your world could be loud even if the television is on mute and the radio is off. Using Facebook for hours can make your world loud. Overscheduling yourself can make your world loud. Allowing gossip into your world can make your world loud, as can friends who always have something negative to say. Your mind and spirit require quiet to function best. You might commit to spending an hour each day in total silence, not even speaking out loud to yourself.
4. Find a mindfulness practice. This can be yoga, journaling, walking in the woods, meditating (such as this grounding meditation), praying, painting, stretching or something similar. For example, try lying in Savasana pose for 15 minutes each day. Although it might just look like you are laying flat on the floor, Savasana pose has been called the most difficult pose in yoga as it requires you to simply exist in silence and mindfulness…and that is tough for our modern world.
5. Marvel at your inner power. Once you have begun to access your inner wisdom, listen to your intuition, and make decisions off your gut, you will find that something amazing happens. You are no longer sitting in the passenger seat. You are empowered. You are trusting that the decisions you make are right for you. You don’t question your own choices when you see someone else enjoying great success. You don’t blame yourself when bad things happen to you. You don’t seek to take away from others’ happiness or justify your own vices or negative behavior. Instead, you are deeply aware of your own strength. Your own intelligence. Your own purpose. Your own journey.
As Alan Alda once said, “”You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”