On the Road to Finding Self-Worth
In my last blog, I talked about the things that have happened in my life that have caused me to have a core belief that I am not worthy of being spoken to by the people closest to me. I didn’t fully realize I believed this until I tried to teach how to have self-worth to the members of the domestic violence healing group I facilitate.*
Even though I don’t feel as if I have arrived at my destination of truly feeling worthy, I have made strides. I am much more confident today than I was 13 years ago when I left my abuser. I have done many things that have helped me over the years, and I hope you will find one or more of these helpful to your healing as well:
Practices That Have Helped My Sense of Self-Worth
Individual counseling – I have sought counseling at many points in my life. I think I have seen at least 8 different counselors over the years. All of that counseling has been helpful to me on my journey to learn to value myself. This is one of the big reasons I became a counselor! One of the counselors suggested I take a look at the negative things I tell myself. I was shocked by how often I did this, and how negatively I speak to myself subconsciously. Becoming aware of these negative thoughts is the first step to changing them. See my next blog for more on this.
Choosing wisely the people with whom I surround myself – After the episode with my so-called “friends” in middle school, I dumped the entire group that had ignored me for a month. I chose a different friend who was loyal and encouraging. As I grew older, I continued to surround myself with friends who were life-giving rather than life-sucking.
Support groups – In the 3 years after I left my abusive husband I joined three different support groups. One was at the Denver Safe House. Hearing others talk about what had happened to them, and the fact their stories were so similar to mine, helped me realize I was not a terrible person, and that my husband’s abuse of me was not my fault. I went to another group with a private counselor where we looked at some of our core beliefs. The final group was with some friends from church. In that group, we studied several books by Cloud and Townsend, the first being Boundaries (one of my all-time favorites!) and Safe People. We also studied Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn. Going through these books with others helped me see that I was not flawed more than any other person, and that healing was possible.
Bible Study – I was a member, then a leader with Community Bible Study for 14 years. It was so healing to my heart to study the Bible with encouraging women. I gained a great understanding of God’s love for me, and the way people through the centuries have found peace through Him.
Remarrying – Marrying a loving, kind man has helped me immensely. Being as broken as both my husband and I are, we have had to work hard to understand each other and bear with each other’s brokenness. We went to couples counseling for 6 of our first 8 years together! Also, having step-children has repeatedly opened wounds that I gained in childhood. I have grown by leaning on God, friends, counselors and my husband to bear the pain I’ve received from them.
Becoming a DV Advocate and Counselor – Learning how to advocate for others has been very healing for me. Seeing others move past their abuse and into the light is so encouraging!
Writing two books and a blog – In order to write the books I’ve written, I had to do a lot of research, and read many books on healing. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read, for myself, in order to write, and for my graduate degree in counseling.
Studying the Enneagram – This semester I am studying all the personality types represented by the Enneagram using the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram . I am Personality Type 1 – the Advocate. I am learning that people of this type tend to be very hard on themselves, often second-guessing themselves, and striving for a perfection that they cannot (nor can anyone else) ever meet. Seeing that some of my self-worth issues come from the way I was created from birth has also been healing for me. Ryan O’Neil of the group Sleeping at Last has written a beautiful song for each of the Enneagram types. He also has a podcast that describes each type in detail. Powerful!
Receiving Mentoring – I have had the privilege of being mentored by two godly older women. One walked me through the ugly last two years of my first marriage, and for 2 years after that. She helped me keep my eyes on the Lord through one of the hardest periods of my life. The other I have just recently started meeting with. She helps me see my circumstances through the eyes of faith. I met both of these ladies by asking my church to recommend a mentor for me. What a blessing.
Having a Relationship with God –This is probably my most important resource. I spend time in prayer or Bible reading or journaling every morning. I am also a part of a great church with a vibrant ministry and worship time. The older I grow, the better able I am to hear God speaking to my spirit. I feel his infinite love for me and know that I am never alone. My relationship with God keeps me grounded and reminds me of my inherent worth as a human being, and how much the creator of the universe loves me.
Experiencing Inner Healing – I have had the privilege of receiving inner healing prayer. Having had years of counseling, I was amazed how much this sweet woman was able to help me uncover during our first prayer time together. I often sob through the entire hour and a half sessions, but leave feeling as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
Listening to Christian Music – I love listening to KLOVE. The songs they play never fail to lift my spirits. Here are three current songs that I love. (You might notice all three are sung by women.) In the first, Francesca Battistelli is “breaking up” with fear. In the chorus she sings, “Fear you don’t own me. . . I ain’t got time for you telling me what I’m not, like you know me well guess what, I know who I am. I know I’m strong and I am free, got my own identity. So Fear, you will never be welcome here.” Another is “Who You Say I Am” sung by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong Worship. In the chorus she sings, “Who the Son sets free, is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes I am!” The final one is “You Say,” by Lauren Daigle. In part of this song she sings:
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
Brings me to tears every time I hear it.
My point in sharing all these things is to demonstrate that
- There is no magical “cure” for the wounds we have experienced,
- We are all works-in-progress, and
3. Even though we are not yet whole, we can still have a meaningful, productive life.
God sees us through a much different lens than that with which we see ourselves. He sees us through the eyes of love. He sees us as people he died for. In Luke 12:6-7 Jesus said,
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Question: Have you tried any of the practices I listed above? If so, which one(s) helped the most? If not, which one(s) would you like to try?
I pray you will begin to understand more and more how very worthy you are.
*If you are interested in joining our counseling group, “Healing from Domestic Violence,” please contact me.