Women have a tendency to tie their self-worth to their achievements, which holds them back.
Almost every day, I hear a version of one of the most destructive statements a woman can make. I hear it from clients, from friends, on television, and still sometimes in my own head: “…as soon as…”
What’s so bad about that?
Well, potentially nothing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with waiting, if I’m, say, waiting for the sandwich guy to deliver my lunch or for the next episode of Game of Thrones. More often than not, though, when I hear that phrase, it’s referring to something much more important. With women, it’s usually about when something will happen that will allow them to feel worthy of love and belonging.
What does this sound like?
“I’m going to apply for that promotion as soon as I’ve finished this next project…or the one after that.”
“I’m going to start dating again as soon as I’ve lost ten pounds.”
“I’m going to go after my real career as soon as I have just this one more degree or certification under my belt.”
“I’m going to get that family portrait taken as soon as I get my pre-baby body back.”
Any of this sound familiar?
For women, our feminine conditioning tells us that first we must improve, accomplish, and perfect - our bodies, our credentials, our experience - and then we can be worthy. That achievement is the baseline for being worthy of love and belonging. The thing about thinking this way is that, once we reach these goals, most of us still don’t feel worthy - not really. We simply move the goal post again.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, learning new things, and getting valuable experience. But when you tie your sense of self-worth to these things, it creates a sense of being inadequate. Feeling inadequate brings up feelings of shame and fear which can hold you back from achieving goals, learning new things, and getting valuable experience. You can be trapped in this cycle for months, years, or even decades, without really realizing what is holding you back.
So how do you break this cycle?
By recognizing that worthiness is your birthright. You are worthy of love and belonging. Right now. Just as you are. You’re not a product that needs to be upgraded or improved. Your achievements and experiences are not tied to your self-worth. Whether you fail or succeed, you are still worthy.
When you can strive for goals, create, learn and grow without putting your self-worth on the line, amazing things happen. You’re free to take more risks and reap more rewards. You have more capacity to be engaged, generous, innovative, and inspired. You get to embrace your humanity instead of fruitlessly chasing a “perfect” ideal.
Untangling these elements can be complicated, but it can be done. I’ve worked with many clients to help them recognize where they were waiting for worthiness and listening to their feminine conditioning, instead of their deepest desires. When you stop waiting, you can start experiencing the freedom of knowing you are truly worthy.