Awakening Out of the Stress Cycle: Detaching Self-Worth from Performance
Unlock stress from your life by disentangling self-worth from performance. Learn how to break this cycle, and experience a newfound sense of freedom to fully accept and appreciate who you are in any given moment.
The False Equation: Self-Worth Equals Performance
Lessons learned early in life lead most of us to equate our talents and accomplishments with how “good” we are — a measure of our personal value. This gets reinforced over time with every compliment and critique.
It also leads to wanting, even needing the approval of others, and for them to see us in a positive light.
We try to make sure we don’t fail because we don’t want to lose respect. And this places an out of proportion pressure on our need to succeed.
All of this generates stress which impacts not only us, but those around us.
If we pay attention to this, we can free ourselves from this cycle by disconnecting our personal value from our performance. And doing so allows us to be far more relaxed and at ease with ourselves, dramatically reducing our stress levels.
The Impact of Self-Induced Pressure on Our Lives
When we are identified with our performance or achievements, we wrongly believe that the quality of our work carries more meaning than simply being about the quality of the work itself.
The additional meaning —the belief that our success determines how worthy we are — is what generates all that unnecessary pressure we experience. That self-induced pressure can cause us to behave in ways that stress our friends, family members, and co-workers, causing them to destabilize and show up at less than their best.
The irony here is that we think we need to succeed and not fail because we believe that it will mean something about us; but making those around us stressed-out and miserable will certainly give us what we don’t want — to be judged and viewed negatively. That’s a lose-lose proposition.
Judging Ourselves vs. Self-Reflection
Worse, so many people beat themselves up for not being perfect or not good enough at something. Creatives do this a lot. Parents often engage in this, thinking that every screw-up by their children is a reflection on themselves.
That’s not to say it’s not wise to do some self-reflection, but beating ourselves up isn’t helpful. We don’t actually learn well from beatings. A more open, caring and compassionate approach facilitates learning. But just for all of us.
Raising Self-Awareness: Removing Meaning from Success and Failure
We need to raise our self-awareness enough to stop applying meaning to situations where no meaning exists or belongs.
When we let go of defining ourselves by our successes and failures, we free ourselves to allow any success or failure to be an outcome of whatever work and circumstances were involved.
We can celebrate our successes, our performance, even our capabilities without any story that it makes us better people who are more worthy.
We can make wiser decisions and learn from the experiences where we succeed and don’t succeed without making it about our worth.
Taking Inspiration from Consciousness Teachers
A person once went up to renowned consciousness teacher, Eckhart Tolle, after one of his events and said, “Wow, that talk was incredible!”
Eckhart smiled and nodded his head, saying, “Yes, I thought so too!”.
I so loved this. Eckhart didn’t make the compliment about himself in any way. He simply shared in the delight that he, too, felt the work was exceptional.
Heading: Celebrate Your Success
You’ve demonstrated excellence and success in at least some area of your life. Enjoy that. Appreciate it. Celebrate your good works. And in a relaxed way, strive to improve in whatever areas you feel inclined to do so.
And know this: from the day you were born, you were inherently worthy, and that has never changed.
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