Last night I was thinking about self worth, mainly because I've been reading Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life. The affirmation for ME is the same for Epstein Barr - "I relax and recognise my self-worth. I am good enough. Life is easy and joyful."
Just reading it for the first time made me feel better, it definitely resonated with me; but it has made me think about what self-worth is. I have always defined my self-worth by the things I achieve, the people I help and I've felt that I have to be doing something of value to feel like I personally have a value.
I think this is made stronger because of my illness. Society views anyone with a disability or illness as less than: less useful, less valuable, less important, just less. It can be hard to hold your head up and feel worthwhile when the messages around you make you feel like you are a burden, a responsibility, a sponge, taking away from the whole, not giving anything back. I don't agree with that in the least, the things I've seen disabled people do to help others is awe-inspiring, especially when they have to overcome so many more hurdles than most people do; but it shouldn't be just those that are visably seen to be doing things, who are considered to have worth.
I started to think of my own self-worth, if I took away all the things I "do" and concentrated on all the things that I "am", the things that exist if I'm writing an article, watching television or resting in bed. I have to admit that it's a concept that felt very new to me. To recognise that I have worth at all these times and it has nothing to do with my achievements.
I am still figuring out what self-worth means to me - I believe it to be the inner core, my personality, my strengths, for example my determination, my will to survive, my creativity and my way of coping when life brings me down. It's my belief there is good in the world and my desire to care for people and share the joy in life that I have discovered and want to bring to others. It's this and so much more that I'm yet to be able to put into words; but at least now I'm thinking about it.
I am repeating the mantra throughout the day and each time I say it, out loud or in my head it makes me stop and think. I may not be physically perfect, I may not be like everybody else and I may not be doing as much throughout the day as everybody else; but I have worth, I have value and just because society doesn't recognise it, doesn't mean that I shouldn't. In fact I think it's about time I start.
What does self-worth mean to you? Do you value yourself? How do you cope with the constant undermining of your value by society and the media? I'd love to know your thoughts.
Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition and author of The Choice. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn't do what she wanted. She now writes about women who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she's deeply familiar with.