Stop Using Productivity to Measure Your Self-Worth
How has your 2022 been so far? It’s surely too early to tell how the rest of the year will proceed, but it seems like many are struggling right now. Working through the disappointment of unmet expectations can bring about some dis-ease and wonky mood shifts. If 2022 has already started to send some hard hits to your self-worth because you’ve been forced to have more downtime than you’d like, I’m going to challenge you to view this time as a gift.
Maybe you’ve been working hard to stay productive and are suddenly feeling like you’ve lost touch with who you are. If you’ve been losing sight of all the things that nourish you, mentally and physically, I hope this blog post provides some comfort and helps you to understand that you aren’t alone.
Before we dive in, let’s look at what self-worth is. It’s easy to confuse self-worth with self-esteem, but these two identity traits are actually a bit different. Self-worth is defined as your internal state of being, which is impacted and influenced by your own self-understanding, self-love, and self-acceptance. Self-esteem is your subjective evaluation of your self-worth, and encompasses your beliefs about your traits and strengths, along with your mental and physical perception of yourself.
Your self-worth should be determined by your own values and perceptions; however, it is more often linked to what others feel and say about you or comparing yourself to others. Part of comparing yourself to others may be when evaluating how busy or productive you are each day, or as part of any given week.
How does this topic relate to shape change or weight loss? Around this same time last year, I shared a blog post related to acceptance and how it can be the catalyst for change. If you are fighting the way you feel in your body, and it is depleting your self-worth, it’s important to begin to address these feelings so your body and mind are working in tandem to move you closer to your goals. But that doesn’t mean you have to do more and push harder!
If you are allowing your productivity to factor into your self-worth, I’m going to invite you to begin to challenge that perception of yourself. It’s difficult to separate your self-worth from how productive you are, particularly in the midst of a couple of years that have turned lots of lives upside down.
Even if you’ve been able to navigate the last couple of years with some grace and self-compassion, I’m going to guess that you’ve had at least a handful of days that made you feel like you were pedaling uphill on a bike with flat tires.
“A…silent assumption that leads to anxiety and depression is ‘My worth as a human being is proportional to what I have achieved in my life.’ This attitude is at the core of Western culture…It sounds innocent enough. In fact, it is self-defeating, grossly inaccurate, and misleading.” -from Feeling Good by David D. Burns, MD
When you start to feel like your self-worth is sinking, take a step back and step away from any distractions. Sadness, worry, disappointment, and self-criticism are emotions we all feel, and all emotions have value. The key is being able to acknowledge the way you are feeling and work through these emotions in a supportive way of your mental and physical well-being.
Once you are able to sit still and observe your thoughts, fight against the urge to immediately dive back into being productive, and instead think through the following statements or questions:
- What things have you accomplished in life that provide you with pride and joy? When thinking through this question, think of things that make up who you are as a person and your unique identity. Are you a trusted friend or loving parent? Are you a talented artist or gifted in the garden? These pieces and parts of you will not change no matter how productive you are!
- Embrace the value in rest, recovery, and reflection! My clients struggle with this so often, and I’m always reminding them of how important “rest-based” living is. Don’t underestimate how important these things are towards a fulfilling, happy, and successful life. Life without downtime and proper rest causes your battery to drain and soon you are running on empty.
In actuality, taking care of yourself can involve aspects of being productive. For some self-care involves cleaning out closets or junk drawers, donating unnecessary items to charity, or even volunteering time at community service centers. The key here is finding ways to stay productive that uplift your spirits and build your self-worth rather than depleting it.
- Find activities and pursuits that have nothing to do with your line of work and don’t involve your typical ways to stay productive. You may want to look into a new sport, or take up ballroom dancing. Is there a skill you’ve wanted to brush up on or a book you’ve been putting off reading? There’s no time like the present! Set aside some “me” time to relax into the moment and enjoy learning something new.
I realize not everyone has the luxury to bask in the glory of hours of downtime, and I also recognize that for some it feels unnatural to take time out of your day for yourself when you feel there isn’t enough time in the day to start. On the other hand, I’m a big believer that you make time for what is important to you. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect on how you’ve invested in yourself can be critically important to your internal growth and your external presentation.
If you feel like you’ve been drowning in trying to stay productive, why not come up for air for a bit? Take some time for yourself and notice if you start to experience a shift in your self-worth! What you focus on expands, so take some time to focus on the things that reinvigorate you without staying overly busy or unnecessarily productive. Notice if you start to perceive your self-worth increase bit by bit!
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash