Why your conditions of worth might be preventing you from feeling good.

I was listening to an interview the other day with one of my favourite women in business, Annie Ridout. In it, she was talking about her work as a writer and she mentioned how she had sometimes felt like a bit of an imposter calling herself a writer at times when she wasn’t actively commissioned or earning from her writing.

It got me thinking about conditions of worth.

Conditions of worth are the criteria that we feel we have to meet, or the things we feel we have to have done to achieve a sense of self-worth. To feel worthy of recognition, positive regard or love.

It’s a bit like an unspoken tick box exercise that goes on in our heads.

We can feel like we have to tick boxes in order to be successful in many different areas of our lives: How much we earn to feel like we’re succesful at our jobs or whether we are deserving of a title. Our children’s behaviour as an indication of how good we are as a mother. What we choose to eat as a barometer of how healthy we are.

Conditions of worth are very often things that we have learned that we need to do to be valued. Messages that we have understood from society or other people. For example:

I need to be a certain size and shape to be attractive/accepted.

I must work hard to earn money.

I need to put on a brave face and not cry or show people that I am upset or angry.

Sometimes, conditions of worth can motivate us to achieve things in our lives. But they can also cause us to feel unfulfilled, or to miss out on celebrating the achievements that go unnoticed when we are striving to get those boxes ticked.

How would you complete the sentence, “If I am to be of value I must…?” Scribble down the first things that come into your head.

Then ask yourself, where have those conditions come from?

It’s good to give consideration to the conditions of worth that you hold in your mind and to try and recognise whether they are criteria that you yourself truly want to meet, or whether you have subconsciously inherited them from elsewhere.

You might find that you are holding on to conditions that don’t serve you and might be preventing you from discovering what is truly the best for you.

The truth is, only you get to decide and define your own worthiness and success. And there’s no time like the present to start.

If you liked this article, you might want to read other articles on emotional health and nourishing nutrition, here.

2 thoughts on “Why your conditions of worth might be preventing you from feeling good.

  1. Marlinspike

    I do so agree with this. So many of my conditions of worth generated in childhood. Always to be well behaved and well groomed. Be seen and not heard. That it matters (a lot) what people think/say about you. Some of it is fine) up to a point) such as ‘if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ – especially on social media. However it’s influenced my self-worth and self-talk too much with some undesirable consequences….. 😳

  2. Salli Martlew

    Interestingly this time of great flux provides opportunity to re-evaluate and remind ourselves of our priorities and perhaps adjust markers which have otherwise indicated who and what we are. For instance, I don’t know about you but I have bought no clothes this year. No reason to, no desire to, no necessity as I am rarely leaving my home and when I do it is usually for exercise which does not require fresh clothes. I feel good about the ‘not buying’ and the exercise. I’ll take that as a positive aspect of our current situation among the bundle of more negative ones!.


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