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‘Happier’ With Dave Flynn

‘Happier’

Self Worth

As I sit here, eating my porridge after a busy morning of school runs, lunch boxes, breakfasts, sea swims and the usual hustle and bustle of a morning. I reflect on where I get my self worth from? Is it intrinsic like my baby daughter Fia or is my self worth more attached to my social standing and my achievements? I think it is likely more externally derived than I would like.

In a world that constantly pushes us toward the next big achievement, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that our value is tied to our productivity or success. But what happens when we shift our focus inward and start valuing ourselves for just ‘being’? I find that this shift isn’t just liberating; it’s a fundamental reconnection with the essence of who we truly are.

Last week, we explored the idea of ‘feeling enough’ and how our sense of self-worth often gets tangled with external achievements and comparisons. In this week’s Happier Column, I want to explore practical steps to cultivate this deeper acceptance and learn to live a life defined not by what we do, but by who we are at our core. 

I want to share with you some practices that I do to help nurture my sense of self-worth. Pick and choose the ones that resonate with you, there is no one size fits all approach. I’ve found that cultivating a strong sense of intrinsic worth is an active, ongoing process. It’s about making small, intentional choices each day that reinforce the belief that you are enough just as you are. 

How can we cultivate more intrinsic self worth?

For me, the process always begins with awareness, being mindful of when I make automatic habitual decisions from a place of fear or insecurity, when I am ‘holding on too tight to life’ and don’t embody that deeper sense of trust. A few of these are actual practices and others are more mindsets and nebulous that help me feel enough: 

  1. Be kind to yourself

It all starts with kindness. You are worthy. You exist for so many reasons and your life is not defined by your external achievements. I am reiterating this to myself as much as to you! Proactively cultivating a more loving relationship with yourself is at the core of it all. Life has its light and dark, each of us has a shadow side. I find the more I can make peace and accept my shadow side the more whole I feel. Kindness can serve as fundamental to every other practice, and can be as big or as small as you like it to be. For example, I am cultivating a mindset of kindness even if I fail to get half of what I plan to in a day.

  1. Journal to write down your fears and insecurities 

Personally, I am a super big fan of journaling! A blank page always accepts my worries and problems without judgement! I do two types of journaling, the first one is a so-called ‘brain dump’ style of journaling, which is basically just emptying all your thoughts on the page with no intention other than to express it. It can be very cathartic.

The second one is a more intentional form of journaling, where you have certain questions/prompts that focus your journaling. In terms of self worth here are some journaling prompts I frequently use:

  • When do I feel like an imposter?
  • When am I not kind to myself?
  • When am I not loving to myself?
  • What drives me to achieve?
  1. Practice gratitude

This is a daily practice! It takes intentionality and awareness to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. Humans innately have a ‘negativity bias’, which has helped us survive, it is evolutionarily essential, however thinking negatively does not help us to feel happier. This is why it takes practice to really focus on how abundant your life is. 

Everything is relative – to someone in prison your freedom is invaluable, to someone who cannot move, being able to move is the greatest gift of all, to those without food, any food is such a blessing.

I very much practice being grateful on a daily basis. Before dinner every evening, my wife and I have got in the habit of taking a few moments to say thanks for the meal we are about to eat and to think of all the millions of things that had to come into place for this meal to be in front of us, it is simple yet very worthwhile. 

  1.  Lower your expectations

Let me share a quick example: Children are generally the personification of free and self loving, their expectations of themselves are also low, as their main goal is to play and be around their friends and parents. 

Observing my own expectations, I find that hoping and dreaming for wonderful things but lowering my expectations very much leads to a happier me! If you lower your expectations you are less likely to be disappointed. Lowering your expectations helps you to focus on what you have and to be grateful for it. 

  1. Turn some of your routines into rituals 

I wrote about this in my first Happier column. Like me, you likely have lots of mundane routines in your life that you can’t avoid, doing the dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning. I do my best to lean into these infusing them with a little more ritual, a sprinkle of ceremony that reminds me to be ‘here & now’ with the task at hand! This might just be as simple as taking my time and doing my best to find joy in the task at hand!

For those curious to dig deeper, read more in Happier Column 3 

  1. Be aware of your ‘inner child’

In each of us lives an ‘inner child’ with dreams and hopes and a ferocious appetite to play, imagine and create! Adults are grown up children, how can you reconnect to this part of yourself? What activities feed this part of who you are? 

For me, running, yoga, swimming in the sea, writing, being in nature and spending time with my kids help me connect with my inner child. Its the activities that help you to feel free when you get lost in the moment and there is no future purpose other than the momentary joy!

Read more in my previous Happier Column here 

  1. Challenge negative self-talk

We all have an inner critic. Yours likely has different ‘tracks’ that it plays on repeat to mine. Becoming aware of your inner critic and actively challenging it is key to taking power from it. When you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, I encourage you to counter it with affirmations of your intrinsic worth.

For example, replace thoughts like “I am a failure because x” with “I am valuable just as I am and always have been and always will be”

  1. Cultivate more presence

Ultimately, the more we can spend time in the “here and now” the more likely do we feel whole and enough. Thoughts of the past might be stressful and thoughts of the future could be anxiety ridden. I find the best gateways for me are using my 5 senses that bring me back into my body. Another reason why cold sea swimming is so effective for me!

  1. Get lost in the process 

A mantra I have been repeating in my own head this year is: “Focus on the process not the result”. 

The more I can get lost in the process and not focus on the result, the more likely the result will be better! I know this might sound very basic to most of you, but in a multisensorial external world it is also so easy to be drawn toward external goals to fulfill our internal insecurities. However, the more we can focus on this step, the more likely we are to reach the destination we desire. 

  1. Support relationships & community

Any relationship that you have that accepts you for exactly who you are affirms that you are enough. In our digital age, real world in person relationships really stack up in terms of their benefits on every aspect of our wellbeing. I meet Steve and Raj most mornings and we go for a sunrise swim. I run with my brothers and friends a couple of times a week at 6am and these are like therapy sessions. We chat and share our problems and always feel lighter at the end!

To summarise these 10 tools, I find that an intrinsic sense of self worth is one of life’s real treasures, often more so than many of the coveted social accolades many of us strive for. 

As we wrap up this week’s column, I encourage you to reflect on your own journey. What daily rituals could you turn into mindful practices? How can journaling or gratitude reshape your day? Remember, the goal is not to seek perfection but to foster an environment where you can celebrate being authentically you.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences and insights. What practices have you found effective in nurturing your sense of self-worth? Are there challenges you’ve faced in this journey that you’d like to share? Your stories and questions not only enrich our community but also deepen our collective understanding of what it means to truly feel ‘enough.’

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or reach out via email or social media. Let’s continue this important conversation and support each other in our quests to live more fulfilled and self-accepting lives. Remember, each step you take in embracing yourself enriches not only your own life but also the lives of those around you. Let’s keep learning and growing together, celebrating each moment of our journey towards a deeper self-acceptance.

5 responses to “Self Worth”

  1. Gemma says:

    Thank you for another superb blog post, Dave, I am really enjoying reading them every week! While all of the points you raised in relation to self worth are deeply insightful, two of them really resonated with me: ‘Lowering your expectations’ and ‘Getting into the process.’ I think sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves by setting unrealistic and often unachievable expectations for ourselves which only end up causing us distress, if we feel we fall short of these expectations in some way. ‘Getting into the process’ or getting into ‘flow state’ when our minds and bodies are synchronised in a creative act, is a blissful state which we all deserve to enjoy from time to time. Finding ways to trigger this ‘flow state’ is one of the secrets to a happy life. Looking forward to next week’s blog post already!

  2. Lourene Roode says:

    This is a profound and life changing article for me. Thank you so much.
    Ps: Reading and absorbing this in my car in the parkade of the hospital I work at… now off to work with a new song of gratitude in my heart.

  3. Rachel Slattery says:

    Thank you x

  4. Anne Turner says:

    Fabulous blog

  5. Rita Moore says:

    Loved your blog it has given me time to think, of all the things I always wanted to do. We as a nation put ourselves in a position without thinking how I am going to do it. I am guilty of putting myself forward without realising it would put me in a position I did not have time for i would go ahead and do it. I am getting older and have more time to think of myself and realise I don’t feel guilty when I say no. You have given me more to think about thank you.

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