In our culture, as women, we are taught that our value declines as we age.
It’s an old idea, leftover from earlier days, but it still lingers. It’s the underlying assumption that a woman’s value is in our ability to have children.
This outdated concept has been tied to the idea of what’s considered attractive, what’s considered appealing, and what’s valuable about us as women.
According to magazines and most mainstream advertising, a woman is valuable if she’s dewy, symmetrical, thin, but still curvy, and smooth—all things that signify youth and being a good age to have babies.
But as we all know, women are valuable for so much more than our capacity to have children.
We are valuable for the ideas we bring to the table, the love and nurturing we give to our families, our laughter and connection with friends, our leadership and innovation, our creativity, our vision—and all that value grows and deepens as we age.
Remind yourself of your own value.
We know this, but those underlying cultural messages are still there. We still absorb them from magazines and advertising and TV.
These negative messages can still influence our unconscious beliefs about ourselves—the thoughts that come up when we look at ourselves in the mirror.
Often, because of these ideas we’ve absorbed over the years, we undervalue ourselves as we age.
We write ourselves off and underestimate ourselves habitually, in small ways, even as our wisdom is growing and our lives are deepening.
Because these messages are still out there—even though I don’t believe them—I find it helpful to proactively work against them.
Here are a few ways I’ve discovered to remind myself of my own value and expand my sense of appreciation for myself as I’m getting older.
#1. Make a gratitude list—for yourself.
Gratitude practices are big right now, and they can be such incredible tools.
Writing down the things that you’re grateful for in your life can help build appreciation, positive feeling and grace.
But when’s the last time you wrote down what you appreciate about yourself? We usually skate right over that part, or take it for granted.
The next time you open your journal to write down what you’re grateful for, see what happens if you start with you.
What qualities in yourself are you thankful for? What attributes? What features? What hard-earned wisdom have you discovered? Write these down.
You don’t have to show this list to anyone. But just the act of articulating it—and then being able to go back and read it—might make you appreciate things that you would otherwise take for granted.
#2. Talk differently to the mirror.
We all have unconscious habits when we look in the mirror.
We see ourselves first thing in the morning and go, “God, I look tired.” Or “there are those puffy eyes again,” or “I didn’t know that wrinkle was so big.”
Next time you catch yourself talking to yourself this way, turn it around. Find something that you value about your appearance.
If your eyes look tired, zero in on the smile lines around them and take a moment to appreciate how much you’ve laughed in your life.
If you find yourself focusing negatively on the line between your brows, take a moment to appreciate how focused you are and your ability to concentrate.
Whatever you can find to appreciate about yourself, take a minute to do it! You can even say it out loud if you like.
#3. Start each day by recognizing what’s valuable about you.
If you have a morning routine, this is an easy thing to add. And if you don’t, it’s an easy moment to take—after you wake up but before you get out of bed.
Just take a moment, while you’re still waking up, and think about one thing that’s valuable about yourself.
Whether it’s your strength, your patience, your positive outlook, your skill at gardening, your handwriting, your leadership, your parenting style, your growing confidence or sense of inner freedom—just spend a few seconds with that quality before you get out of bed and start your day.
It’s amazing how reminders like this seep into everything you do.
How do you practice valuing yourself? Let us know in the comments below!