I had a completely different article written for this month’s bazaar, all ready to send to the great peeps in the office to do their magic (and make me look marvelous in print), then I read this on my Pinterest (@drsusannah) feed… and wrote something entirely different:
‘’When you finally realize how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts’’
I often work with clients struggling with self-esteem and one of the things we do is establish what it means to have personal worth or value. I usually tell some version of the following metaphor, and we reference it throughout therapy.
‘’Imagine that some archaeologist on a dig somewhere finds a single vase that substantiates a theory about an ancient civilization. Despite additional feverish excavation, no other such item is found. With great fanfare, the vase is put on display at some ultra-famous museum. People are paying to go see this wondrous artefact, and you decide to go too. You get to the museum, pay your money, and with great anticipation you enter the room where the vase is displayed. People are gathered around the single column in the center of the room where the vase sits, covered with a glass case. People are talking in hushed tones, consulting the museum guide, listening to a recorded explanation, and taking pictures (without flash, of course). You finally get up to the front of the crowd. To your disappointment, the vase is just about the ugliest piece of pottery you’ve ever seen. It is nothing special; brown, crusted with dirt, cracked on the rim, and to your eye, slightly lopsided. You tune into the talk around you, and it’s clear that some people think it’s beautiful, some think it’s ugly, some think it’s physical appearance is irrelevant, and still others think the museum should clean it up so everyone can see what it really looks like. You look at the vase again, imagining the dirt gone, the glaze repaired, and the bottom sanded to make it sit flat again. ‘Nope,’ you think. ‘Still ugly.’ As you stand there, the crowd ebbs and flows, the talk rising and falling as people discuss the merits and demerits of the vase. Compliments and criticisms wax and wane as people move through the room. Finally, you move on yourself, passing by a group of people who seem to be arguing about the cost of admission to see “…that stupid thing.” In fact, one of them seems to be arguing in favor of asking for a refund because he didn’t think the vase was worth paying to see. A museum docent, overhearing the discussion, tells the group, “the appearance of the vase has no relevance to its worth. You paid to see something uniquely priceless. Absolutely irreplaceable. Its value is not dependent on subjective opinion.”
After I finish that metaphor, I just sit quietly and wait. So… I’m waiting for you…
Let me help. How many of YOU exist in the world today? What could those who love you pay/do/give to replace you? Cognitively, these are rhetorical questions ~ the answer is self-evident. ‘One’ and ‘Nothing.’ You are priceless, unique, irreplaceable… and that truth is not subject to the opinion of others. Even more importantly, it’s a truth not subject to YOUR opinion. Emotionally, though, we all struggle with what this looks like in “real” life. Our internal state rises and falls on the “You’re great!” “You suck!” pronouncements from other people.
Back to the original quote that started this train of thought – when you accept the truth of your worth, you will stop giving discounts. If you think about the discount metaphor, right now, as you’re reading this, where would you put yourself? In the bargain bin? Under the BOGO sign? In the “Give Away” box by the back door? If you’re doing that to yourself, just imagine the discounts you’re giving others ~ for your time, your talents, your unique creativity.
Let me spell it out – your worth; your value as a human being is not impacted by any external measure …unless you swallow the subjective opinions and judgments of others. This year, make that one change – take back permission for others to judge you by their standards …and stop judging yourself.
I’ll leave you with this thought – “Compliments and criticism are like perfume and poop. They both smell, but you don’t eat either one.”