How to Stop Measuring Your Worth in Achievements

How to Stop Measuring Your Worth in Achievements

via Tiny Buddha by Malia Bradshaw

“The better you feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to show off.” ~Robert Hand

The first vivid memory I have of anxiety is when I was only seven years old. I sat in math class, gripped with fear that I wouldn’t get a perfect score on my test. If I got even one answer wrong, I would feel worthless.

This striving for achievement followed me all the way through college. I not only graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, but I had an impressive Curriculum Vitae filled with awards, extra curricular activities, publications, honor societies, and more. Each time I added something to my list of achievements, I felt a surge of worthiness.

Yet, this satisfaction with myself didn’t last long. Soon, I was on to the next task to prove to myself (and others) that I am worthy. 

I fell into the same trap in graduate school: commuting each night, taking extra classes, making all A’s, working a part-time job—until the panic attacks hit. I couldn’t control my brewing anxiety anymore, and I developed debilitating panic disorder and agoraphobia. I could barely function, so I made the decision to drop out of my graduate courses.

I believe the panic attacks were my body’s and mind’s way of screaming out for help. Their way of saying, “I’ll make you stop since you won’t listen,” of letting me know that perfection isn’t healthy or possible.

During those anxiety-ridden days, the panic made it impossible for me to live a successful life according to my previous definitions. Suddenly, my biggest accomplishment was simply making it through the day or going to the grocery store alone. I felt antsy and worthless without academics or a steady job.

I was forced to redefine my ideas of self-worth. I realized that chasing my worth based on one accomplishment after another was making me miserable.

I had to learn that my worth runs so much deeper than what I can prove through achievement. I had to learn that I am worthy simply because I exist, and nothing more.

Here are four ways that I have started overcoming the need to base my worth on accomplishments…

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