I often fell in the trap of thinking others only valued me based on my accomplishments. That they paid attention if I failed, and that failure meant they didn't see me the same way. I couldn't get past the count on wins and losses, so I would shift the attention to how well I could manage my life outside of my status as a professional athlete. If I couldn't be perfect on the mat, then I could prove that I was perfect off the mat. It took me a long time to realize that not only is no one keeping score, but they are often too busy battling with the same inner dialogue to pay attention to what's going on in my life.
You are valuable not only because you make choices you think others expect of you. I have spoken to many young athletes over the years who have a strong fear of quitting sport, because they think others will not see them the same way. If all your values are defined by the things you do, it will be very difficult once that is thing is no longer around. Each time you enter in a new stage of your life you can make new choices, but still bring your ideals. You are not only valuable to that coach, teacher, family member, or friend because you are doing well in a sport, or because you have been an accomplished student. Your value is internal and intrinsic. Your work ethic, attitude, helpfulness, etc. is held within you. Even if you made a choice to change the course of direction in your life, people would see you carry integrity in every new endeavor you pursue.
Our relationships with others and who we keep around us can be the root of how we decide to value ourselves. The people around me didn't keep me as a friend, companion, or advisor because I won something. If that was the case, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to keep them as friends! That would mean they weren't really interested in who I am as a person. I realized, I wasn't choosing friendships based on who was most accomplished. I kept friends around because of the amazing values they bring to their life and to mine. They enrich me in ways that inspire me to be a better person.
Sometimes, we get stuck in a one-sided relationship. Make sure the friends around you build and enhance your life as much as you are enhancing theirs. When you care about what others are feeling, they will see how you value them and value yourself. It is all a learning process when we enter into relationships and hope to build something amazing. Both people are equally committed to brining their values to the table, and others we realize, end up being a one-sided equation. This can be in friendships, work or business relationships, family, etc.
But what do those great relationships look like that have been built around understanding the standards? It's important to realize that we teach others how to treat us (I heard once that this is what Oprah said, if so, she's right). If we don't communicate our needs, they will not be met. If we think that it is selfish to express our needs, so we become passive and non-expressive, then we are creating more harm than benefit to a relationship. There is actually a very, very thick line between being proactive about your needs, and being selfish and taking from a relationship. For someone who has often struggled with putting myself first, I finally realized that I was creating more harm by putting myself second. It seemed like selfishness, but ironically, I started seeing that it was more selfish to just hope someone understood my needs. Holding back doesn't empower yourself or those around you to speak up for whats important.
Shifting that inner dialogue takes practice, and it takes patience. I had to learn that I could only complete myself first, and in turn, I could harness my own power and learn how to ask for what I needed. Don't ever give yourself away just to please others. Shift your focus to relationships that show the best side of you, and the people who have told you your worth is irreplaceable. Those are what your life and your relationships should be modeled after. It creates a standard that helps you enter into partnerships/relationships that only meet that standard. And then use it for good! Knowing your value means you can create a world that benefits yourself and others.
Lots of love to you guys, and start building your world of value for good!