My name is Katie and I struggle with self-worth.
There is a psychodynamic theory in psychology called “Object-relations.” I first learned about it in my Theories of Personality class and never really understood it. There was a lot in it about infant relationship with caregivers, internalizing things in the world, and a bunch of other psychological gobbly-gook that did not make much sense at the time.
I still do not completely understand it, but I think the more I wrestle with this theory the more I resonate with it.
I internalize just about everything. By this I mean I take in what the world says about me to be true without really analyzing and questioning it. Someone doesn’t like me? Then I must be an unlikeable person. I did not get enough positive attention growing up? Then I must be someone who is not worth the attention. To internalize is to take the opinions and actions of others and make them truths within our own minds.
I do that a lot. I have a feeling other people do too.
A lot of the time this constant internalization keeps me from being who I truly am and instead leads me to believe I am someone completely different. In my head I can look at all of the good things I do, the powerful relationships I have, the love I have for others, and my successes and see that they make me a worthy person. I’m someone worth knowing, loving, and caring about. When I try to translate that into how I feel about myself, however, I find that there are all of these internalized opinions of others that get in the way of me being the person I intellectually know I am.
“The longest distance in the world is the 18 inches from the head to the heart” has never meant more to me than it has in the past few months. There is this disconnect between what I believe about myself and what I feel about myself and I think it comes back to the things I’ve internalized.
So what am I supposed to do? No matter how many good things happen in my life it seems like I continue to fall back on these dusty old internalized ideas that were imparted on me throughout my child and adolescent life. I think the answer is simple but difficult: It is time to kick out the old internalizations and begin to internalize real truths about who I am and how God sees me. It goes back to one of the questions Bob Goff told me at a conference to ask myself. Who am I?
According to God I’m a new creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17). I’m an adopted child of God (Romans 8:15). I am loved by God for no other reason than because he loves me and in that I have inherent worth. Those are the truths I should learn to internalize. Not the things bullies in schools said, or the misspoken words of my parents and siblings, or of friends long gone. I deserve a shot to be happy with myself for no other reason than because God is happy with me and created me in the best way he deemed fit. God loves me and that should be reason enough to love myself.
Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.