As humans it’s in our biology to belong…to have a tribe. From way back in the caveman days being part of a tribe is what kept us alive. If we didn’t belong, we died. We are hard wired for connection, relationships and belonging.
It’s why emotional neglect, especially during our developing years, can have such a profound negative impact on us. Researchers have found that emotional neglect can actually alter the brain’s chemistry. (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/06/neglect.aspx). You guys, without connection and belonging our brains are literally changed!
So, it makes sense that from a survival standpoint we would want to avoid anything that could distance us from our tribe. Again, belonging and connection equals safety.
Somewhere along the way we learn that we need to be a certain way to stay in the tribe. We learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. And we learn what make us worthy or unworthy. Being worthy secures our place in the tribe. We learn about worthiness mostly from our families of origin…. either by being told you need to do this, look like this, or be this in order to be worthy or we watch. We learn real quick what worthiness looks like. We see how “others” are treated and we learn fast that we do not want to be an “other”.
When there’s a gap between our story and the story we want people to see, we lose our ability to connect. When who I think I should be becomes more important than who I am, as Brene Brown puts it “we end up hustling for our worth”. We say to ourselves “if I do this perfect enough, if I’m pretty enough, if I achieve more, if I make everyone happy, if I stay quiet then…then I’ll be worthy of belonging”.
The problem is, it’s a never-ending hustle. Every time we think we’re winning; the goal line moves away from us. It’s like chasing a plastic bag in the wind, every time we’re close, the wind shifts and it slips through our hands. It can show up in our lives as anxiety, problems concentrating, difficulty organizing thoughts and sometime health problems. It’s time to stop. Enough of the craziness, enough of the striving, enough of the hustling. You are enough.
Here’s where I usually get some push back. I get agreeance and a “yaasss!” but then I see more striving, more activities, more busyness but this time it’s dressed up as an effort to build “self-esteem”. It’s important to know that to live a life that thrives we need to have goals. But when these goals and accomplishments define us, when reaching or not reaching these goals determines our worth, we’re just hustling.
There’s a difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Self-esteem is what we think, feel and believe about ourselves. Self-esteem is also usually attached to achievements. Earning that degree, getting that sale, losing the weight etc. each tells us how much we’re worth.
Self-worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”.
It’s a knowing deep down in your knower that you are of value, you are loveable and you have unfathomable worth no matter what.
It’s having unconditional regard for yourself-even when we fail. It’s seeing yourself the way God sees you- perfect in your imperfection.
It’s completely possible to feel “high self-esteem” or, to think you’re good at something yet still not feel convinced that you’re loveable or worthy. A lot of times we think if “I could just work on my self-esteem then I’ll feel better about myself”. But self-esteem doesn’t work without self-worth. Without self-worth we’re just hustling to find our value. We attach our value in how many goals we can accomplish, how perfect we can be, and how happy we can make others. We make ourselves small so that others can be big.
Let go of the hustle… your worth is not wrapped up in all that. Your worth is intrinsically within you…because you are you.
There is also a tension between wanting to be worthy and authentic and being afraid of being worthy and bold. There’s a part within us that wants to own our story while at the same time is afraid of the power within our story. Marianne Williamson explains it beautifully here:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
We are all guilty of hustling for approval and acceptance, this is universal.
Whose opinion matters to you the most?
What do you do to get their approval?
What does your hustle look like? Does it show up as perfection, pleasing, making yourself small, staying quiet?
Because insight is great and action is better, here’s my challenge for you:
Stop the hustle and embrace your fabulousness. When you notice you’re making yourself small, stop! Stop minimizing yourself and reframe it. Say whatever you were saying that was making you small and say it how it is. No need to make yourself bigger or smaller… you are enough and you are worthy of love and belonging.
If you’re ready to stop hustling for your worth, online therapy can help. I’m here to help you step into your power. Schedule your free consultation with me and transform the way you live, love and lead.