We know that smoking is bad for us. Over the last two decades countless studies on the adverse health effects of smoking have been conducted. The evidence does not lie: smoking can ultimately kill us. Yet 19% of the American population 18 years of age and older currently smoke (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/smoking.htm).
We know that eating healthful foods and exercising enables us to maintain a healthy body weight and contributes to our overall well-being. In society today, it is common knowledge that an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Yet at this moment, there is an obesity epidemic in the United States. Millions of Americans are struggling with their weights and diseases associated with being overweight, such as diabetes.
So why do we still do these harmful things to ourselves? We have this wealth of knowledge regarding what is healthy for us. Yet we still do things that we know are harmful to our health. We make the conscious decision to treat ourselves badly. And this drives me crazy!
So why do we mistreat ourselves?
Well, I cannot say for certain because I am not a professional. However, I will share my perspective and experiences and hopefully this will offer you more insight into the motivation for your actions.
I believe that low self-worth causes us to treat ourselves poorly.
Self-worth is comprised of the feelings that we have about ourselves and the beliefs we have regarding what we deserve in life.
So how is self-worth developed?
Well, our beliefs about what we deserve—as well as all of our other beliefs—develop from our interpretation of significant events in our lives. I know that this is true in my situation. My beliefs regarding my worth are the result of a lack of proper parental nurturing as a child. I have never met my father and probably never will. And my mother has been a fleeting influence in my life. My mother loves me, but in her own, unique way—unfortunately, not the motherly, nurturing way. But I still love her for trying her best to raise me.
My mother’s infrequent presence during my childhood developed my core beliefs about my worth. Childhood is a very impressionable age. My mother’s lack of nurturing for me caused me to believe that I did not deserve love and that my wants and needs were not important. Her frequent abandonment created the belief that I was worthless. I was also led to believe that I must have been flawed in some way because I was not “good enough” for her to stay.
Now before we go any further, I must tell you that I do not believe that our quality of life is determined by our childhood. Yes, a poor upbringing is very unfortunate and creates obstacles that we must overcome as we develop into adults. But we have the power to decide if we are going to be simply a product of our childhood or if we are going to become the person that we deserve to be and fulfill our potential.
With that being said, in order for us to improve the quality of our life, we must first be honest with ourselves about the problems we are facing. If we cannot admit to ourselves what the problem is, then we will never be able to find a solution. A year ago, I would have never wanted to admit that my childhood was the reason that I was being so incredibly self-destructive. However, I was never going to be willing to change those actions unless I was also willing to be honest about the motivation for them.
Remember, in order to begin a journey, we must first know where it is we are leaving from.
My childhood was a dominant determinant in the development of my self-worth. Hopefully, now you’ll give some thought to how your own self-worth developed.
So how do we change our self-worth? What can we do if we do not believe we are worthy of a great life? If we believe that we don’t deserve happiness?
Well, we certainly cannot change the past. However, we can change our actions in the present.
The first action that we can take is to change how we are handling the pain of the past. If events of our past continue to cause us pain as we grow older, then it might be time to reevaluate how we are addressing the repercussions of these events. Perhaps, our strategy has always been to keep our feelings bottled up inside and pretend like we are alright. But if this strategy is not making us feel any better, then it is time to do something different.
The second action that we can take is to change how we treat ourselves. Yes, we may feel worthless, and we may believe that we do not deserve a good life and that our needs are not important. But we absolutely do not have to act that way.
Every time we act in accordance with the negative beliefs we have about ourselves, we only reaffirm and strengthen those beliefs. How can we possibly say that we respect our bodies if we are constantly smoking, overeating, drinking too much, or doing drugs? How can we say that we love ourselves if we are always putting ourselves down and saying that we are not good enough?
Just because we have certain beliefs and feelings does not mean that we have to act in accordance to them.
If you want to raise your self-worth, start doing things that you know are good for you and that make you happy. Start exercising, eating right, and getting more sleep. Set aside time to be good to yourself and to do what you want. And make your needs a priority. Yes, you may have a job, a spouse, and kids. These are important responsibilities. But you are important too! So make your needs and wants a priority. Make time for yourself.
Yes, we may be suffering from low self-worth and feelings of worthlessness. But why do we have to act in accordance to those feelings? We might not have the power to just magically change our beliefs. But we do have the power to change our actions, right now! We can make the decision at this very moment to do something different. To change how we are acting. Right now!
Remember, only you have the power to decide what you deserve in life. No one in this world can decide that for you. So start treating yourself how you deserve to be treated.
Let’s decide right now to start being good to ourselves. We deserve it!