“So I tried pleasing Mom, I tried pleasing Dad. Tried pleasing those voices, Spinning ‘round in my head!”
(Excerpt from the book, I Could Love No One Until I Loved Me)
Effort is a good thing … unless you find yourself tying your sense of self-worth and value to it …
I am 7 years-old, I am standing in the hallway of St. Francis De Sales Elementary School in Parma, Ohio. I am in the 2nd grade. My eyes are closed, my fingers are crossed as I am waiting for Sr. Miriam Therese to call out my name so I could walk up in front of the entire school and be pinned with the highly coveted prize, a small blue and white button with the word ‘EFFORT’ emblazoned across the front of it.
She is ready to call out the last recipient, my fingers now double crossed, as she utters the words … M-I-C-H-E-L-L-E … V-A-R-G-A … I am crushed! What???? Hey wait a minute, what about me? Where’s my button? Don’t you see how hard I’ve been trying?
I believe this was a defining moment in my life (as you can see I’ve completely forgotten about it) because it was reinforcing the belief that other people defined my sense of self-worth and value. When you are a child, other people have an amazing amount of influence over what we believe about ourselves and sometimes we drag those beliefs behind us like an anchor for the rest of our lives.
Growing up, we have all had times when we felt so good about ourselves and what we accomplished, until someone ran a faster race, got a higher grade, or had a newer bike. Sometimes, the only thing that changes as we get older is that the toys get bigger and more expensive, so instead of comparing bikes, we compare houses, cars, and net worth.
Growing up we may have tried our hardest at accomplishing a task or overcoming an obstacle only to hear, “Imagine how much better it would have been if you just tried a little harder, worked a little more, or exerted even more EFFORT like your brother, sister, cousin Steve, etc.?”
In these moments we typically choose one of two paths. We shut down, go inside of ourselves and feel horrible, or we adopt the do good, try harder method to prove our self-worth and value to ourselves and the rest of the world.
This past week, as I was reflecting on the events of this last year, I came to a few realizations about the relationship between effort and self-worth.
- Sometimes more isn’t necessarily better … this includes more effort and sometimes more ice cream!
- If I am exerting enormous amounts of effort and it doesn’t bring me joy, I might need to redirect my efforts and focus on something that will.
- Success in life and in business doesn’t need to be hard in order for it to have meaning or for me to feel valued.
- My sense of self-worth comes from within, if I am not feeling worthy, looking outside myself and blaming others is not the path to joy, peace, and happiness.
- I can create more, help more, and bring more value to others by simply showing up and being who I am. ‘Being’ who I am requires a lot less effort than trying to be someone I am not!
If any of these words resonate with you, if you’ve ever felt like you had to try harder to feel like you are enough or know someone who does, click on this link and gift yourself or someone you know with a copy of the book, I Could Love No One Until I Love Me!
It just might change your life!