Ugh, just writing the title makes me feel sick. I feel like 2023 has been a rehash of different parts of my life since 2016. I’m again at the stage where I see the fog is lifting but all I can do is put one foot in front of the other. I feel like I’m rebuilding and relearning how to know my (your) value.
Why do I want to share this with you? I know I’m not the only one going through this. I have other business owner friends who are currently searching for how to know their value. Not the value they bring their clients, but at their core and for themselves. So I want to share my story in the hope it helps you.
Last week I got vulnerable in a private Facebook group and laid out all the stuff going on. I also chatted with another business owner in a different group, and to my surprise I got the same result. “You should have reached out.” Thing is when all you can do is put one foot in front of the other, the last thing you can do is reach out. You don’t have the capacity.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am mentally fine. I honestly have a lot of large life experiences going on – at once. Yes, I’m finding glimmers in my day that make me smile. Yes, I’m making sure I eat right, try to get the sleep right (thanks perimenopause), I keep active (thanks life), and I make time to do the things that help my body and mind and bring joy.
The issue becomes when you know you are doing all you can but there is still a hole. This has been my year. Friends have said that I have a lot going on, reality is that many are outside of my control and none of them I can stop/offload. I still feel like I am lost.
A business coach friend posted the other day asking, “why do you want to be more resilient”, I answered “I don’t want to be more resilient; I want more peace.” My hope is that when I have more peace in my life, I will have space to know my value and to provide value. This is what I’m missing. I feel like I’ve been in survival mode for so long that I rarely get the chance to provide value. (Yes, this is why there are so few blogs going up this year)
Don’t get me wrong, I know that my work is valuable and provides value, by default, I provide value. That is different to who I am and knowing and acknowledging my value. Broadly, to the world and not just my friends, family, and clients. Most importantly, that I know, intrinsically (within me) that I know my value to me. Not deriving my value from what I do but instead who I am.
Why do I need to know my value?
A few days before this I came across a post from The Holistic Psychologist about the dark night of the soul. Look, I’m a little woo woo but never expected it from this account. That’s because it wasn’t woo at all. It started with the points of “You’re questioning everything. You feel confused, overwhelmed, and lost.” I know I have a lot going on but that’s not what has me overwhelmed. It’s feeling lost and that I’m spinning my wheels. So, I read on.
“We start to realize we’ve been conditioned. … We start to realize that what we’ve been told to be true about life isn’t necessarily true. And one day we wake up wondering whose life we’re living. … We see we’ve inherited conditioned beliefs, behaviors, and generational trauma.”
This has been my year. I have been questioning so much and many around me. What and who serves me best in my life. Focusing on how I want to live. Pushing back, or just letting things that do not benefit me be. Being clear on how I want to be treated and not being the ‘good girl’, I have been conditioned to be, even if it meant reconciling the pain of losing people who were actually only in it for themselves.
But this was just the beginning.
I was worried because I had retreated. I know that I was mentally ok. (Grace to years of counselling) I was processing the realities of the large life events I’m facing. Part of this had to be done alone, has to be done alone.
The Instagram post goes on to say, “We start spending time alone. We begin the process of learning who we really are. It’s our time to connect back to the truth. To face our reality, in order to create a new one.” This is when I realised that I was actually ok and not ‘going mad’. I thought back and realised the number of times and things I am doing to reconnect with the last time I truly felt me (I was 25, that was 24 years ago, on the cusp of becoming a wife and this changing identity)
I have been facing my reality, which is why I knew I didn’t need counselling. Honestly, if I knew I needed counselling, I would have sought it out. I am a massive advocate for mental health. What I was doing was starting to learn who I really am, not who I have been led to believe I should be or conditioned to be. Just authentically me.
It’s not uncommon for parents to feel lost in their identity when so much of their time is focused on their children. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for business owners to lose who they are in service to their customers, staff, and business. But there is a difference between what you do and who you are. I fear that we have been conditioned to value ourselves on what we do, not who we are as a person. This is where we start to lose ourselves. Unfortunately, it starts when we are in school and the questions about what work we want to do when we grow up. (Don’t get me started on the point that I haven’t finished growing up and that it’s touted like a destination rather than an iterative process)
I’ve looked to the conditioned beliefs I’ve had. Firstly, I started standing up for myself when people crossed a line or didn’t do what they said they would. I had to learn that this is a safe thing for me to do. That I could do it for myself. That I was not responsible for how other people reacted or their emotions relating to me standing up for myself. I also had to ‘fight’ the instinct to apologise for standing up for myself, putting in boundaries, and people pleasing to someone who was in it for themselves. This was incredibly hard when standing up for yourself was often unsafe, that keeping the peace was valued, and that other peoples’ emotional state impacted on how safe I felt. I was conditioned to put others before myself and even had the belief that I “didn’t have the right to make anyone’s life harder than it was”.
I realised that a lot of how others see me was wrong. Not just because they didn’t have the ‘whole picture’ and reasoning behind my actions, but also because they too were behaving from their conditioned beliefs and beliefs and perceptions of me. When I realised this, it triggered me to change from looking to others for validation to looking to myself. I would never get the ‘right’ answer asking someone whose opinion was based on how they see me, the role they have me in, how they benefit from me staying the same or changing, and what they want to know of my situation.
I realised that I could only accept people as how they show me and how they say they want me to see them. So, I took them on that and on face value. It’s interesting how much easier things become when you stop reading into things. When you tell people, “You’ll call me when you’re ready” and you let them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t contact them when I think of them, quite the opposite. When I started accepting people as they are, not who I hoped or was led to believe they should be or behave, it was clear who I needed and belonged in my life. It also showed me who I was tolerating poor behaviour from because I believed I should. And if you’re wondering, people popped back up and apologised for their bad behaviour after I changed to this.
I am still looking at my conditioned comforting behaviours. To be honest, they serve me in this time of high stress. Until that stress changes, they can stay. I am only capable of so much.
As for generational trauma, I have long been determined to break these cycles. This is where the boundaries have come in and I have had courageous conversations. While I benefit from the relearning, I do this for the future generations. (and not just in my family, for those I teach and mentor too)
Just a note about courageous conversations, sometimes they are warranted, sometimes I have them because courage is my core value. What I’ve relearnt in valuing myself is behaving in alignment with my core value. The closer this alignment is, the more myself I feel. So sometimes you may need to have courage, but you will always need to behave in alignment with your core value.
How to know your value
It’s interesting that the post says that “it’s our time to connect back to the truth. To face our reality, in order to create a new one.” I often see people excusing bad behaviour as ‘who they are’ or ‘their truth’ when realistically it’s a way of side stepping responsibility.
My reality is that since 2016, I have experienced a lot of major life changes. I am currently experiencing a lot of major life changes. I am also looking at how I support my husband differently and what I want from life. I know my reality is that over the next 2 years, my life will change. I have learnt to accept what is outside of my control.
The first steps I am making in connecting back to my truth is ensuring that my behaviour aligns with my core values. The second is remembering when I felt most like I was living my truth, large chunks of my 20s, and knowing I can do that again. I am becoming critical in what & who is important in my life and doing what I can to retain that. Thirdly, I am learning to be ok with the fact that I can not make people learn how to treat me or lessons I can see will help them; they need to learn their truth. Finally, this is a process and I am likely to repeat it but it won’t be exactly the same as I will not be the same person.
You can start to know your value by:
- Reconnecting to the last time you knew your value
- Disconnecting your value from what you do
- Realising that people see you and value you based on their conditioning, beliefs, values, & how you benefit them
- Accepting how people show themselves to you, rather than how society says you should see them (including family)
- Behaving in alignment with your core value
- Having courageous conversations
- Accepting what is outside of your control
- Retaining what & who is truly important in your life
- Being ok knowing that you can’t make people learn how to treat you or the lessons they need to learn
- Accepting that this is a process you are likely to repeat but you will be a different person then.
Final words about knowing your value
Honestly, this shit is hard. I’ve done it before. Or perhaps I’ve been doing it for a few years and sometimes I just dive deeper.
Trusting that I know what’s best for me and my truth has been an interesting process, one I’m still grappling with.
Accepting that you will lose the people who no longer, but probably never did, serve you is likely and can be a painful and often consuming process.
You might feel alone, but you’re not. Please reach out to someone, me, and let them know how you are – really.
You will be better for this process, it might not feel like it, but you will.
As always, seek help, know that I am here, be brave and have courageous conversations if you need counselling support.