Are you looking for someone else to tell you that you're ok? Do you base your sense of self-worth on external feedback, such as compliments on your appearance, praise for your accomplishments and creativity, approval from your superiors, teachers, friends, colleagues or clients? When we base our worth on external sources, we will always be wavering. We will never have that constant and stable sense of being OK with ourselves. When we get positive feedback or things go well, our self-worth soars. When we get negative feedback or something goes wrong (which, invariably, it will), our self-worth plummets.
Perhaps there is another way. Perhaps we can source from somewhere else for that sense of okayness. When we turn inward, through practices such as meditation and mindfulness, we begin to recognize that self-worth is inherent, steady, unwavering. We realize that we can be ok even when things are not ok. Our value does not go up and down like the blue wave on the graph above. It stays steady, like the purple line.
Walking the purple line takes practice, but if we make the choice to engage with ourselves daily, such as sitting in meditation for 10 minutes each morning, our brains will actually change. Meditation increases grey matter density in the areas of the brain associated with attention, learning, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and compassion. (1)
On the other hand, if we continue to source worth from external feedback, we may experience or continue to experience a negative impact on physical and mental health. A study by Dr. Jennifer Crocker at the University of Michigan found that college students who based their self-worth on external sources had more stress & anger as well as more trouble with alcohol use and eating disorders. Students who based their self-worth on internal sources received higher grades and were less likely to develop problems with alcohol or eating disorders. (2)
Looking for support in developing a daily self-love practice, including mindfulness and meditation. Join Erin for free meditation Monday-Thursday at 8am. Too early? Join Erin for More Love: A mini self-care retreat on Thursday, March 12th at 6:30pm.
Thank you for being here and for caring about yourself. In a culture that values productivity and speed, slowing down to sit with and care for yourself is a courageous act of rebellion. Cheers to you.
(1) Lazar, S. et. al (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16(17), 1893-1897.
(2) Crocker, J. (2002). The costs of seeking self-esteem. Journal of Social Issues, 58(3), 597-615.
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