If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you may have noticed that I sign each one with the hashtag #KnowYourWorth. This is my self-made platform. I started using it last year when I was ranting to a group of students about how damaging bullying can be. Standing before my students, I was explaining that most bullies are so self conscious about themselves that they bully just to make themselves feel more important. Then, I explained that if these bullies Knew Their Worth as human beings, maybe their need to bully would be completely lost. On the flip side, I suggested to my students that if they Knew Their Worth, perhaps they wouldn’t be so affected by the voices of the bullies.
Later on in the school year, I set an extra credit assignment called the #KnowYourWorth Challenge. I encouraged my students to post selfies EVERY Sunday for 19 consecutive weeks, using the hashtags #KnowYourWorth and #KYW.
For some it was difficult to keep up and remember to post. For others, it was a task they always looked forward to. And every student that completed the challenge shared their incredible self confidence boosts, as well as their newfound ability to not pay as much attention to what people say. I was incredibly proud of my students’ progress and their ability to understand what I wanted to teach.
My main lesson for them? It was to know and believe that every human being on this planet is WORTHY of love and respect, to know that those who persecute them most likely have lower self confidence than they could imagine, and that by showing the world that we know who are and that we Know Our Worth, we could shift society’s negative ways forever.
#KnowYourWorth is a platform I’m incredibly passionate about. Part of that comes from my true belief in society’s need for change. A huge part of my passion comes from something much deeper. As a sexual abuse survivor, my personal story relies heavily on my self worth discovery. Those who have been abused in any way will attest to the loss of self worth during and after that trauma. Our abusers succeeded in taking our power, our voice, our sense of being whole. But we must take it back.
In my initial years of therapy as a child, I remember this topic being my main focus. Everything revolves around my self confidence and my ability to not let the words of others tear me down. I often succeeded at exuding an heir of confidence, which usually turned into an angered expression…but people wouldn’t mess with me, so I was obviously doing something right. I kept that hard persona up until college, not knowing that my steady weight gain was me hiding myself, not wanting to be looked at, let alone admired.
When I entered my next episode. I was so focused on keeping busy and not worrying about myself that I don’t really have a journey story to tell. As I said in a previous post, I stopped taking medication of my own volition and didn’t seek therapy…so who knows what was really happening in that time. After graduation, my weight gain continued and my self confidence was almost fully diminished. But I was way too busy to truly notice. I was out of school for two weeks before I got bored, and started working various odd jobs. While working over the next 8 months, I began speaking with many different guys from online platforms. As my self confidence declined, I truly relied on their words to make me feel beautiful. I wasn’t beautiful unless they said so. And a man would be the only thing to make me happy.
I was SO WRONG.
Time has passed. I’ve met someone who truly loves me for me. He loves me for who I am on the inside: weird, passionate, faithful, soulful, complicated. He has helped me realize that I am worth so much more than I’ve let myself believe. And while I don’t regret my past mistakes, I do know they have a large part in my self confidence drop. But…fighting will only make me stronger. #KnowYourWorth: a platform great for societal changes AND a daily reminder that I need to know my own worth as a human. I am more than my body.
So, what now? How do I combat the negative influences of society, or the demons in my own head?
The simple answer is one day at a time, in the best way I know how. My ways will be different from yours. Our successes will be defined by our own standards.
But here are some ways that could help.
- Fake it Til You Make It: WE know how strong our mind is. It works against us in so many different ways. We listen to the negative thoughts enough and we start to believe everything it tells us. But what if we tried turning it around? What if we woke up every morning, stared at ourselves in the mirror, and just said out loud, ‘You are worth it?’ We would feel stupid, dumb, and we definitely wouldn’t believe it at first. But if this were to be done consistently, our mind would start to turn around for us. It would get easier to say every day, we may even say it with a smile, and eventually, we could start to believe it. I know that we fight demons every day. Sometimes, we can’t even force ourselves out of bed to stare into a mirror. Sometimes, staring into a mirror is a trigger. And that’s OK. Everyone will have their own way…but in some way, shape or form, WE MUST TELL OURSELVES THAT WE ARE WORTH IT! We are worth life, love, respect, dignity. And once we start to believe that, others will believe it with us…or we will find the ones who will.
- Give a GIANT FINGER to the Bully: seriously…just flip them off. Slip them the bird. Physically. Pretend they are right in front of you, and just let them have it. Yell, scream, let it all out, tell them how you really feel. Make them leave you alone. Let them know that you will not give in to them anymore. You don’t need them, and they need to move the f**k on. Maybe your bully is your actual abuser, maybe it’s the demons inside your head, or maybe it’s society itself. Whoever or whatever your bully is…FLIP THEM OFF. It feels so good. I promise. It feels stupid, it feels redundant, you may a little fearful to do so. But, they are not there. So just let loose. Let go. Let it all hang out. Once you do, you’ll slowly feel more confident. You’ll slowly feel in control. This can go along with the above suggestion…fake it till you make it.
- Use Visuals: make posters, put notes on the walls and mirrors, get a tattoo maybe. Make this message visible. You need to see it everyday. Even if you can’t force yourself to say it, you’ll walk into a room and see that beautiful message right in front of you. #KnowYourWorth. On days in which you can’t/won’t say this to yourself, you’ll find the reminder in the moment you’ll need it most. Even on my worst days when I’ve refused to say it to myself, someone will say #KnowYourWorth to me, or I’ll see the hashtag somewhere random, and smile shows up on my face. It works.
- Post It: this is perhaps the most frightening suggestion. It can be easy for us to say ‘#KnowYourWorth’ to ourselves and smile a little before going about our day. But can we share this message with the world? I believe we can. Take advantage of #SelfieSundays on Instagram. I take a selfie, whether I’m feeling good or not, and post it using the hashtag. I let everyone know I’m present, I’m alive, I’m trying, and I’m worth it. Now, I understand completely that this will be impossible for some of you to try now. And this is COMPLETELY OK. Don’t push yourself. But if we can think back to my article ‘End The Stigma,’ shared below, I believe that in order for people to stop labeling us and making assumptions, we must make our presence known. And this is just another tool for doing so. And I have clear evidence that this SelfieSunday idea can work. I said earlier that I challenged students to post a #KnowYourWorth #SelfieSunday for 19 consecutive weeks. When they wrote about it, they all admitted to having better confidence, to loving themselves a little more, and caring less what others thought about them. Now, you could be saying that they are just kids, they don’t have the same ‘problems’ we do. And that may be true. But it may also be true that some of them could be struggling even more. Maybe they are in a similar position. Maybe they are abused in ways we don’t know about. And if that’s the case, then I will do my best to make sure they know their worth. If it worked for teenagers who are just brutally nasty and get bullied non-stop, then it could work for us. Let people know WE ARE HERE. WE ARE WORTH IT. AND WE KNOW IT.
Please let me know if you have any other suggestions or tactics for building our worth and presence as a community. And if you’re willing, please please please start the #KnowYourWorth and #EndTheStigma posts. I search these hashtags and it would and incredible feeling if you joined me in this movement.
©2017 Woman of Steel. www.womanofstel-ptsd.com