• Self-worth is Worth it: Future Proof Me – Part 4

    posted on 23/11/2020 by Frances Keane

    In part four of his Future Proof series, mental fitness expert Neil O’Brien gives us tips for developing self-worth.  In simple terms, he says we need to value ourselves and our talent before we can expect anyone else to do the same.  

    In this blog series I have set out my philosophy and approach in the area of natural talent and ability. I have looked at what it is, how to discover or re-discover it and how we can use it to build the next part of our future work and life success.

    However, it is one thing to know you are a wonderfully talented human being but it is another thing to value your talent, your ability and your contribution.

    How dare you!

    I believe that we are not going to achieve genuine success and happiness without having a healthy level of self-worth. Self-worth is the quality of the relationship we have with ourselves which will then determine the quality of our relationships with others and the quality of our relationship with life. So, everything will start or end here. It’s not enough to be a wonderfully talented human being if you don’t value your talent. In fact, how dare you expect other people to value you and your talent if you don’t value it in the first place!

    Self-worth can be nurtured – the best time is always now

    Not Happy

    Not only that, if you and I are not happy with who we are, then we won’t be happy with where we are, who we are with and what we are doing. So valuing ourselves genuinely, and maintaining that sense of value for the future, will be the kind of vital ‘fitness’ required for future success and happiness. Otherwise our standards slip, we settle for less than we are worth and we start to accept this low level as being our level.


    Where do we get a sense of worth and validation from? Can we generate it for ourselves as we go forward though life?

    Certainly our early formative years were important. This includes family, authority figures, belonging to groups, teams, classmates, sports teams and peer groups. Now, later in life, we are also part of new groups and tribes but these are usually only ‘occasional’. Apart from family and work most of the time we are living in our own heads. So while we can get some sense of our value from others, most of the time it is something we have to be able to do for ourselves.

    Proof and Dodgy Fixes

    Usually the worth and value of anything requires proof. So where are you getting your proof from? What are your sources of validation? What evidence do you have that you are a valuable human being?

    Here are some quick fixes that work in the short term, but to which you can easily become a prisoner, meaning that in the long run it can be very destructive and exhausting.

    Manic Busyness: creates the feeling that we are vital to everyone and we can’t let up. This is just an illusion, is exhausting to keep in place and your own priorities never get met.

    Busyness can be great – but you can also be a ‘busy fool’ (Image: Shutterstock)

    Role Playing: if we don’t value ourselves enough we can be tempted to pretend to be a super-human version of ourselves. The problem here is that people expect us to be super human all the time.  Just not sustainable.

    People Pleasing: it’s nice to be liked but over-indulging in people pleasing dilutes our personality, confuses what we stand for and postpones our potential.

    All of these work. I have clients who feel that they have to do all three. And all of these are exhausting. But you and I can’t future-proof ourselves if we don’t have the energy to do so.

    By the way, have I just described the culture of your organisation? Manic busyness combined with obsessive positivity, and nobody is ever allowed to say ‘no’ to anyone or anything?  Perhaps this is a blog for another time.

    Best Fix and Best Proof

    The best fix for maintaining healthy levels of genuine self-worth works faster than the quick fixes, lasts longer and is wonderful to be around. It is personal integrity – our ability to do or say the right thing as often as possible. For example, tomorrow you may be put in a difficult situation by a client or colleague. In the moment you will have to choose your response. You can choose a response based on manic busyness, role playing or people pleasing. Or, you can take your courage in your hands, and say or do the right thing, and in that moment you will prove to yourself that you are a person of courage, conviction and integrity. There will be times when no one else will know what you’ve just done, but most importantly …..you’ll know.

    A couple of closing thoughts for the week ahead: the best time to work on your self-worth was 20 years ago, the second-best time is today. Your Self-Worth Superpower for the future will be your ability to do what you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do it. See you next week for the topic of confidence that will be future proof.