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Your Worth Is Not Dependent on What You Do or Accomplish

Carefree Man

“A life’s worth, in the end, isn’t measured in hours or money. It’s measured by the amount of love exchanged along the way.” ~Unknown

I’ve had a go-go-go personality for as long as I can remember. I think I was born with it.

Both of my parents were small business owners who truly believed that with enough hard work and heart-and-soul dedication, you can accomplish anything.

By the age of three, I was a gymnast; by early elementary school, a competitive one, with a coach who was constantly (and sometimes aggressively) pushing me to the next level.

Therein began the scheduling of every minute of my time: from school, to two-hour practices, to homework on the road, to weekend competitions, to girls’ slumber and birthday parties.

I wanted to do it all, and to be the best at all I did. I hadn’t even reached high school and had already joined the universal struggle for work/life balance!

The especially vicious part of this cycle was that, when I found myself falling short in any one area (for example, not being quite “good enough” for the popular group of girls in school), I would drive my energy fiercely into other areas, such as academic success, which my teachers noticed and encouraged.

I graduated from high school at the top of my class, and Suma Cum Laude in my Bachelors and Masters degrees. (Both programs were in Psychology, by the way—even then, I tried to understand and connect more deeply with myself and others).

Following grad school, I continued the fast-paced life and entered my first corporate career as a wellness facilitator.

I traveled all over the U.S. and internationally too, to deliver a workshop that was, ironically, based in self-care and listening to your body. I certainly wasn’t practicing either of those things, but I was receiving praise from my bosses and respected colleagues.

One of my more memorable breakdowns came toward the end of the first year on the job. Sitting in yet another airport, for yet another delayed flight home, I’d just had it. I was chronically stressed and exhausted; pale, thin, and fragile; and physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually spent.

It terrified me to imagine living life another year at this pace; it was equally terrifying to listen to what my heart was and had been calling for, for some time: to slow down.

The Universe had been gently coaxing me toward this moment for a few years by introducing a yoga practice, essential oil use, acupuncture, and many healing modalities and healers into my life. But rather than embracing the healing fully, I turned each experience into an opportunity to do yet another thing.

Yoga? I became an instructor. Essential oil use? I became a distributor. Acupuncture? I turned it into a working relationship and an opportunity to build my network for my healing business.

It’s as if my ego simply wouldn’t accept or allow such radical acts of self-care without some sort of business case outside of my being.

Deep, deep down, at my very core, I didn’t believe I was worthy of slowing down, of being taken care of, of feeling good.

I, by myself, unattached from all the things that I did, wasn’t good enough. And how could I be? I’d built my life, my whole identity, on doing a lot, being good at all that I did, and looking for approval outside of myself.

I was the one that took on the world, the one that could clean, cook, be a great girlfriend, friend, sister, daughter, and thrive in a successful career. And to anyone outside of myself, that is what it looked like—that I had it all, and had it all together.

According to my boss and the corporate world, I was a “high potential”; according to societal standards, I should’ve been on top of the world happy.

But guess what? I was massively broken, empty, and unhappy. And that’s part of what kept me looped in, continually striving for the next thing; unfortunately, because I’d learned to search solely outside of myself, that is where my worth delicately hung as well.

Throughout life, I’d also caught glimpses of my true and inherent worth.

I saw it in giving—sharing a special connection with a yogi during one of my classes; hearing feedback from a participant in one of my workshops that they would finally commit to taking care of themselves. And I also found it in receiving—hugs and thoughtful gestures from my boyfriend (now fiancé, whom I rarely saw at the time); an especially connected meditation or journaling session; a deeply meaningful conversation.

And the connection that exists within each of those acts is embracing love, wholeheartedly. Believing that what we have to offer is enough, without condition, and that we are worthy of receiving such love the same way that we give it—freely.

The truth is, our worthiness doesn’t reside in doing; it lies within our very being. It’s unchanging, unwavering, and infinite. But we can certainly convince ourselves of the former and spend our lives hustling for the worthiness that we’ll never find in doing.

So how do we get there? How do we shift from identifying ourselves with what we do to who we are?

For me, understanding this truth didn’t come with one massive blow to the ego; it happened in gradual shifts. Here are the practices that help me remember my unconditional worth and live a beautifully fulfilled and blessed life:

1. Openness.

Be willing to accept and embrace what comes, believing that it is for your own and the collective highest good.

This really helped me release my urge to control, to come back to my inner truth, and to focus on being versus doing.

2. Choice/perspective.

Remember that in any given situation or experience, you have the choice to see through the eyes of fear or love.

We are often faced with this one when we are putting our full selves out there in our careers, our relationships, and even our passions and hobbies.

A fear mindset might keep us stuck in self-limiting beliefs, such as:

  • I really want the job, but there’s no way I’m qualified.
  • He/she is so great, but would never notice me.
  • I love to paint/sing/dance, but there’s no way I could ever do anything with it.

A loving mindset encourages us to remain open and curious, without attaching our worth to the outcome:

  • I can’t ignore this job opportunity; I’m smart, experienced, and I owe it to myself to explore the possibility.
  • I really feel a connection with him/her; I should at least explore a conversation and see where it takes us.
  • I really feel the best of my energy comes out when I paint/sing/dance, and I’d like to share that energy with the world in a way that makes sense for me.

3. Asking for what you need.

Know that it is okay and necessary to say “no” sometimes, and to ask for help! And know that this doesn’t make you any less of a person; in fact, it creates space for you to keep your light shining and for others to step into their own light, as well. (This one is still an ongoing struggle for me).

4. Surrender vs. striving.

We are creatures of habit, and though I am totally and intentionally committed to slowing down and embracing self-care, I still find myself unnecessarily filling my time and getting dragged back into the worthiness hustle.

Rather than beating yourself up further and digging the hole deeper, take a deep breath and surrender. Ask for guidance from the Universe and then listen and try to honor and trust what comes.

When I fully commit to this, I usually feel a wave of calm wash over me almost instantly.

So please, stop the chaotic and fruitless search for worthiness outside of yourself. Slow down, listen, and honor your body and soul’s cravings. Commit to embracing all that you are, and come back to your true nature—peace and happiness.

Carefree man image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Jadi Engels

About Jadi Engels

Jadi is a health coach and yogini on a mission to reconnect individuals to their best selves. She believes in the power of whole foods, slowing down and simplifying. She is on the journey toward her own optimal health, and is honored to be a guide for others. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or jadiengels.com.

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  • SK

    Dear Jadi
    Thank you so much for a beautiful article. I am sure to bookmark this and read it over and over again to be bale to process it fully and accept it – that I am worthy for just being me, not for what I have done or what I am capable of doing!
    Keep writing and sharing such wonderful insights!
    Much Love,
    SK

  • SK

    able*

  • Tir

    This is what I got from this…..

    Release the urge to control and just be! See things through the eyes of possibility instead of fear. Ask for what you need, want and don’t be afraid to say no sometimes for your own self care.

    I think these are things we all need to be reminded of. We are labeled by what we do as careers or jobs or roles such as mother or father and we lose ourselves. People say this is a me, me world but I think it is more of a how can I excel, keep up with the Jones, or what is my worth beyond the external. I am learning to slow down and be content with what my soul craves instead of what the world tells me I should crave.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent article, and so very timely for me. Thank you, thank you so very much!

  • Gloria

    I can’t imagine a life that’s constantly on the go. I chose to live my life by finding peace within myself first. That alone with alleviate the chaos of whatever it is you want to do. People’s major problem is that they think peace will come after they do everything. That’s so wrong. You have to find peace within yourself first or else you’ll just be existing in a chaotic lifestyle that never slows down. I also believe that overly busy people look down on taking a break or slowing down. That it vital to do or else you’ll end up nerve shaken. You need to appreciate life and be in the moment. Have peace within. It’s no more complex than that.

  • HQ

    I read somewhere that when it comes to having children is important to acknowledge their effort and not success; because you want to reinforce making an effort not constantly needing to be successful in every endeavor.

    I know it seems like it might be counter-intuitive however. like you stated in your post, people burn out, they get tired when they constantly feel like success should be the goal and not effort, but if we acknowledge and reward effort then people move at their own pace, consistently toward their goal, they don’t get discouraged if they fail, they know they can always try again and or improve elsewhere if they put in effort, and no matter how many set backs a person faces, they’ll learn that effort is still what is most important because that’s the true gauge of true success, how much investment do we put into our efforts, how much care in our thoughts and actions.

    Good reminder for the new year ! Excellent post! Best wishes.

  • B. Anthony

    This sounds like me … for the last 30+ years. What great counsel. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jadi

    B. Anthony: Thank you for reading! Sending peace and renewed energy for the New Year*

    Jadi

  • Jadi

    Gloria: Thank you for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I absolutely agree with you that slowing down is a vital practice for us to remember who we truly and to be our best selves. I am glad you’ve chosen to make this philosophy a priority in your life; it no doubt serves you well! Thanks again and happy New Year*

  • Jadi

    HQ: Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts! I would LOVE to live in a world where effort was rewarded more heavily than success or achievement. I think it is possible and it begins with us; applying that mindset and putting it to action in our own lives as well as passing it on to children and loved ones. Thanks again- Happy New Year*

  • Jadi

    Thank you for taking pause to read it and to share your positive comments! Happy New Year.

  • Jadi

    Tir: Thank you for reading and sharing! I’m so glad you connected with my message and you were able to reflect on its meaning to you. I think you’re right and it’s definitely a daily practice of self-trust. “I am learning to slow down and be content with what my soul craves instead of what the world tells me I should crave” – beautiful! I wish you all the best!

  • Jadi

    SK: Thank you for reading and sharing your response; it brought tears to my eyes! To help others realize they are worthy- aside from anything they do-is at the core of my life’s passions; I am honored it struck a cord with you. Thanks again! I hope you are able to embrace all that you are and let your light shine fully in the New Year*

  • GypsyWarrior

    I can align with this post to the fullest. I am too a “go-go-go” kind of gal and because I feel a lot of people depend on me to get things done, slowing down is never really an option. I am also a full-time college student, so that can be overwhelming at times too (with deadlines etc…). I always considered myself as one of those people who worked exceptionally well under pressure, but I think it is starting to catch up with me. Although, lately, I find myself waking up a little earlier in the morning just to have that moment of serenity with my cup of coffee. I had a realization that continuing on this path is only going to result in me burning out some more, so I added meditation to my self-care regime, once again, another thing to schedule in and to do. Thank you for posting this– definitely insightful!!

  • Thanks Jada for another inspiring post. With the new year fast approaching I think I need to my time on learning to surrender more.

  • Ximena Holguin Remolina

    thank you!<3

  • Raphaela Browne

    Great read! This is one of the best gifts to give yourself- to know you are not defined by your accomplishments but by your heart. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Etienne Charland

    Awesome. So many people strive their whole lives to get to the top just to realize they still feel as empty. I’d also like to put in the other side of the coin. Many people go the opposite way into spirituality and use this as an excuse to play small. Nothing external can ever fill an inner void, and at the same time, there’s only so much energies you can take in before you have to bring it out in some ways. It gets to a point where your external life has to become a reflection of the richness and fullness you experience within; and play a MUCH bigger game.

  • Jadi, would love to hear your thoughts of where does one start “being”? Before you write, “you don’t start”, think about people who need a benchmark or something of familiarization/association in order to be. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  • Denise

    I enjoyed this article a lot, I also used to think I must commit 101% to prove my worth, and I broke down, that’s when I realized I must slow things down. Reading your story makes me realized that I’m not alone, and we can learn from the past or mistakes we’ve been through,