Self Worth

df12f790163687ca82751dc370d9baafSelf worth. What does that mean? It’s not self esteem, but rather, it is more about feeling worthy.

I’ll admit it. There are days that I can feel little worth. I come home from work, defeated, because I waited all day for a “thank you” or a”good job” or a smile.

And I got nothing.

According to an article on PsychAlive,  studies now show that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health.

Jennifer Crocker, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research,  did a study of 600 college students during their Freshman year. Their self esteem was pretty high, in general. Go frosh!

When students were asked about what they base their self-worth on, more than 80 percent said academic competence, 77 percent said their family’s support, 66 percent said doing better than others, and 65 percent–70 percent of which were women–said their appearance.

Yikes. Lots of external factors. The people who focused more on external praise had….more stress, anger…..alcohol and drug use, as well as more symptoms of eating disorders. Ding. Ding. Ding. Yep. Yep. That’s me.

21b04491a57abbd3937c074608303830But I’m not a college freshman. I’m a 42-year-old woman who is still working on conquering perfectionism and finding her self worthiness from external sources.

So how what to do? Dr. Lisa Firestone called it our “inner critic.” How does one quash the inner critic and just embrace ourselves as we are?

One of the things that I’ve been doing is to focus on self care and less on my people pleasing. It’s hard, especially for those people who are use to me puckering up to them all of these years. But I have to be honest. My true friends…the people that really care about me….are encouraging me to do this. They aren’t challenging me looking out for myself. They’re actually supporting it.

Baby steps.

Fight for our right.

I was just writing an angry email to my mother – the only person I really open up to about my political views namely because we think alike – and I thought to myself, “I wish I had a forum to vent about political stuff” and I realized that I do – my blog!

I was just venting about the current administration working on repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood. Both make me so incredibly angry! As someone who benefited from so-called “Obamacare” when I was in between jobs, I found it to be incredibly important to have health insurance that wasn’t connected to employment. I was able to get a flu shot, stay on my medications, and seek medical care if needed.

And don’t get me started about Planned Parenthood! I wish the men advocating to defund PP would take a few minutes to learn about all of the things that PP does for our community. Some PP don’t even perform abortions, but rather, they offer healthcare options to college students, young mothers, and everyone in between. I went to PP when I first moved back to Boston because I hadn’t found a dr yet that I liked. I knew I needed annual tests so it was easy just to go there until I found a doctor. I know it is TMI to say I was just there for healthcare, but I’m just one example of thousands who benefited from PP’s services.

I can’t get into this stuff on Facebook because Trump supporters use it as an opportunity to throw stones at you. This isn’t about Trump. This is about women’s rights. I don’t tell you what you can do with your body, so don’t tell me what I can do with mine. Simple at that.

Phew, I feel better….for a minute.

Bad Medicine

There’s a simple reason why my last several blog post were a bunch of Debbie Downers. I was taking a very potent medication that, apparently, my body didn’t like. Over time, unbeknownst to us that the pills were doing more harm than good, my doctor slowly increased the dose, egged on by me because it was helping me lose weight. Little did we know that once we hit 50 milligrams, my body was going to completely rebel! As a result I was having abnormal anxiety that often turned into full blown panic attacks out of the blue. 
Like, for example, I would be sitting in my office & suddenly my hands would begin to shake uncontrollably. And my mind would split into a million directions. And I would frantically feel my heart begin to race. And pound. And I’d feel hot and anxious.

I couldn’t imagine life going on like that.

I rushed to my doctor’s office and we agreed: no more bad medicine!

Looking back, I am so relieved that we figured out what was causing my terrible feelings and anxiety. I feel so much like myself again–calmer, more “even”–if there is a calm version of me to be had!

Life is good.

Are you self-loathing?

download.jpegI’ve had a terrible epiphany recently. I’m a bit of a self-loather. Yep, horrible, huh? No matter what I accomplish in my life, I focus on the small mistakes and let them fester.

I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. I can still remember bad things people have said about me from middle school. I can remember incidents at various jobs where I’ve done something or said something I regret, and I still beat myself up over it, including one specific incident from 2005 – almost 12 years ago!

But, as this article from Huff Post states, self-loathing is learned. One sign, says the article is that, “you set your hopes low to decrease the chances of failing.” I do this every day, but I refer to it as “self-preservation from disappointment.” I recently applied for a prestigious fellowship but I’ve already told already, “Don’t expect me to get it. It’s very competitive.” Or, I’ve applied for jobs in the past and said the same thing.

The article also says that you are self-loathing if you “You apologize for every little thing.” Holy shit. I’ve always thought I do this because I’m a women in leadership and have been put down pretty much my entire career. This is why I think I work so hard – to overcompensate for the cruel treatment I’ve received from some previous managers over the years. But I do apologize a lot! If I earned a dollar every time I’ve written “Many apologies…” in a work email, I’d be independently wealthy!

The article next discusses: “You try to motivate your work using tough love.” I am constantly punishing myself, making myself work harder and harder because I never believe what I’m doing is good enough. I am tough on myself! And then I make myself feel guilty when I take a break from work..or plan a vacation..but the good news is that I enjoyed my vacation this past September with no baggage. Pure joy!

Sign. Next up in the article: “You place emphasis on the times you are wrong.” Yep, yep, yep, and yep. See above.

Ok. We get it. I am a clear cut case.

Now, what do I do about it?

Simple. It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and it’s all about forgiveness and self-compassion. One of the things I try to do is put myself in other people’s shoes…it helps…and also to recognize that just because my mind is going there, doesn’t mean it is fact.

This article gives some great tips, including embracing being “good enough.” Still working on that.

The other thing I do about it? I write about it here – admitting it openly is a big step for me towards letting it go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My non-New Year’s Resolutions

goals.jpgMy dear friend emailed me last week and said that he found that when he shared goals for the New Year with others, he was able to achieve them because others held him accountable. So, I’m game! I sent him my 2017 – and beyond –  goals (listed below) but I am also posting them on my blog for those of you to read and hold me accountable. They are not New Year’s Resolutions. They are things I’ve been working on for a while now and will continue to pursue in 2017.
1. Be kinder to myself and focus on self care when I need it.
2. Stick with taking my weight management medication but don’t be angry with myself if I gain some weight back…it will ebb and flow.
3. Focus on my career goals and don’t let your others make you feel like you are less than you are. Work towards your goal of becoming a leader of an organization.
4. Don’t let your work dominate your life in 2017. Make time for dating, relationships, friendships, love.
5. Keep up with the journey on keeping your home clean. Remember, you’re doing it for you.
What are your goals for this year…and beyond?

Looking up at the glass ceiling, still intact.

When her husband heads out of town on business, one of my college besties often taps me to come over after work for dinner and help her get her two adorably-precious daughters ready for bed. I look forward to these special evenings, as I get to spend some quality time with her 5 and 8 year olds, and of course, catch up with my gal pal.

I just got home from one of these evenings. After work, I hopped into the terrible Boston traffic – mind racing in a million directions – to have some sushi followed by an episode of Cake Boss.

Of course, the 2016 Presidential election was top of mind tonight. As I watched the girls doing their gymnastics routines for me, I couldn’t help but think of how, if things had happened differently, we would have been celebrating the first female President – Hillary Clinton – and how we had finally shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. But instead I tried to distract my mind from ruminating about my fears, the uncertainty that many of us are feeling, after Donald Trump won the Presidency.

Frankly I still feel like I’m living in some alternative universe because I can’t allow my brain to process what lies ahead. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night – maybe 2am or 3am – sporadically checking CNN.com or Facebook. But when another state was called for Trump, and the map of the US kept getting redder and redder, my fear took over and I closed my eyes for some relief. I woke up a few hours later – about 6:30am – and looked immediately at CNN.com with a glimmer of hope – and saw a large photo of Donald Trump that said “President Elect.” My heart sank. My mind started racing. I went back to Facebook and posted this:

Not feeling like America is so great again. Feeling sad, scared, and concerned about what’s to come. My only solace is that I live in a progressive state like MA. Trying not to let my mind imagine the worst; I’m committed to doing what I can to fight for my rights as a woman, as a Jew, and as an ally. For those of you posting that we should support whomever won – I reserve the right to grieve first for the civil liberties that may be lost.

I’ve often associated with the term “minority” being Jewish in the US – we make up less than 2% of the population. And being a woman is tricky – we’ve come far, but we still make about 70 cents on the dollar to men (in general) – and we have a long way to go in terms of filling leadership positions…although I do have to say that the pay inequality between men and women is not applicable at my current workplace, and two of the three senior leaders at my nonprofit are women….so that’s positive.

I want to keep an open mind going forward with our new President Elect. I really do. I don’t want to protest or complain or sign petitions. I want to move ahead. But the unknown is keeping my mind racing:question-mark10-1

  • Will our religious freedoms – for Jews, for Muslims – be compromised?
  • Will Trump follow through with building a wall between the US and Mexico?
  • Will immigrants start disappearing as they are deported?
  • Will the right to choose what I do with my own body remain legal?
  • Will Planned Parenthood not be able to provide free or subsidized cancer screenings?
  • Will I have to worry about being sexually harassed in the workplace because our “President does it, so why can’t I?”
  • Will all pharmacists gain the right to prevent me and my fellow women from obtaining birth control?
  • Will unemployment skyrocket?
  • Will I lose my job because arts funding dries up?

I thought it was important to document my questions so that I can hopefully look back soon and say, “All that worry was for nothing.” I hope that when my friend taps me to return to help with her children that their lives are relatively unchanged other than typical growing pains.

 

Spiraling up?

I went to see my therapist last night and read her yesterday’s post called “The Downward Spiral.” She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), so she wondered aloud if we could use the imagery of the spiral to think of it differently should I begin to descend into the abyss.

metal-spring-white-background-35091162-1Instead of thinking of spiralling down, she suggested, perhaps you think of using the spiral as a spring to push you up, as demonstrated in the image on the left. Using the coils, push yourself up. I like this visual and have been trying to conjure it during work today to keep me from getting angry. It’s helping me enough to get by now, although last night I was ruminating my angry thoughts, so much that I posted “I want to punch everyone!” in a private Facebook group.

Somehow I need to turn my anger into positive energy. I need to think back to earlier yesterday morning when I listened to the founder of Life is Good talk about why he founded the company. I mean, it’s called “Life is good” for peet’s sake!

I am going to work hard to ditch the anger this weekend. Getting a haircut, maybe a manicure, which should help.

And, of course, the text & emails of support I received last night as a result of yesterday’s post meant so much to me!