4 min read

Rejections, failures and disappointments are more painful when we make them mean something about our value.

Recently I had been very excited about leading a group coaching programme to help people who struggle with body image in the way I used to do. I worked hard to promote the programme. And I was really looking forward to running it. It would have been the first time that I had run such a programme.  But only one person signed up to do it, so I couldn’t run it. 

I was very disappointed. 

But what made the experience harder and more painful was concluding that the lack of interest was confirmation that what I have to offer has no value. 

And then it was a short step to believing that I have no value.

And the implication of that is that I can’t be happy. 

Because how can you be happy when you are considered worthless by the world? It becomes hard to function when I think like that because everything I do seems pointless.

If you feel negatively about your appearance, you will find evidence to justify the way you feel.

This is a very common cause of suffering. And it has a lot of parallels with people who struggle with body image - as I did for most of my life - who say things like…:

  • “No one compliments me on my appearance. That must mean I’m ugly. Ugly people aren’t lovable and can’t get what they want in life. Therefore, I can’t be happy.”
  • “Several people have blocked me online after I sent them a photo of myself. That must mean I’m unattractive. Unattractive people aren’t lovable and can’t get what they want in life. Therefore, I can’t be happy.”
  • “I was bullied about my looks when I was younger. That must mean I’m ugly. Ugly people aren’t lovable and can’t get what they want in life. Therefore, I can’t be happy.”
  • “My partner cheated on me with someone else. That must mean I’m less attractive than the other person. I’m not attractive enough to be loved. Therefore, I can’t be happy.”
  • “My mother told me I was ugly or tells me I’m too fat. If my own mother, who should love me, thinks I’m too unattractive to be loved, then it must be true.”

Such statements seem so logical. And the logic seems watertight. It’s hard to argue with it.

But the truth is that these statements are extremely misleading. They always leave out a lot of things. They’re very biased. They focus exclusively on the negative and they dismiss anything positive, anything that doesn’t fit in with the negative story our mind is telling us about ourselves, and how life works.

Praise and external validation aren't satisfying when you have a negative opinion of yourself.

That’s why people who may receive a lot of compliments on their appearance often still believe that they’re ugly. Because we can’t get our sense of value from the outside.

I’ve worked with clients who receive compliments on their appearance nearly everywhere they go, and yet all the praise does  nothing for their sense of self-worth. And they consider themselves to look absolutely hideous, to the extent that they can’t even bear to look in the mirror.

The people who don’t get the compliments tend not to acknowledge the suffering of the people who do. They say that they are the genuinely ugly ones and that’s why they suffer. They can’t take in the fact that the people who get what they think they want, still aren’t happy. 

If that’s you, you need to slow down and stop ignoring this aspect of reality.

Can you see that you’re chasing something that won’t make you happy because it can’t? Because that’s not how happiness works. It’s not injected into us via other people’s opinions.

And the people who do get the compliments and still aren’t happy can use that experience to help them see the truth more clearly too. 

Self-esteem comes from becoming intimate with who you truly are.

And here is the truth: 

We can’t feel our value ‘out there’. We have to experience it within ourselves instead. It’s the only way.

Life is an inside-out experience. That means our feelings arise within us, and those feelings relate to how we understand who we are, which thoughts we focus on and buy into, and the meaning we make of the things that happen to us.

External validation didn't make me happy.

I used to get more compliments about my appearance in the past than I do these days.  And yet I'm much happier now!  Because there's no direct correlation between what other people think of you and how you feel.

And when we have a felt sense of our value, life feels easier, and things play out differently. We show up differently. We notice possibilities that were previously invisible. We get more helpful ideas.

It doesn’t mean that things always work out the way we want them to, that we always get the job, or never get rejected. Or that people sign up for our course! 

But all these things transpire within a gentler context. They no longer define us. We have an inner knowing of our value, and we experience happiness when we’re not living in the feeling of painful thinking.

You can’t feel your value directly via a compliment or positive feedback. You may get a temporary lift from such things. But sustained happiness depends upon having a good understanding of who you truly are, beneath and beyond all the ideas you’ve taken on throughout your life that take you away from the love at your core of your being.

To find evidence of your value, rest your mind and go within.

To find evidence of your value, and your ability to be happy, don’t look outside yourself to other people’s opinions, treatment of you, or to the events of your life.

Go within. Get quiet. Drop all your heavy, painful thinking. Let go of it and relax. And don’t worry if you can’t do that ‘perfectly’. Just do the best you can.

Often this may happen when you’re not trying. And when it does, just know that this is all you need to heal. You don’t need anything more complicated or laboured. 

You simply need to fall out of your thinking and feel what arises.

If you find yourself settling down, and experiencing warm, gentle feelings, then you are experiencing your true nature. Hang out there for as long as you can. From that place you’ll get helpful thoughts that will guide you through life and help you to deal with any setbacks gracefully.

If you find yourself feeling tight, heavy and hopeless, then you can rest assured that you’re still in your negative, conditioned thinking, even if you can’t put words to it. 

As long as you know this, at least a tiny bit, your suffering won’t be as protracted or as severe.  And you'll find an easier state of mind returning soon.

And if you don’t know that your pain is coming from your conditioned thinking, then simply do your best to relax and keep listening. 

Be patient and kind with yourself. 

Patience and kindness are the medicine. And if you give them time, they will always work. 

If they haven’t worked yet, you just need a higher dose!

You are a wondrous mystery that defies evaluation.

We all have unconditional value and can experience wellbeing independent of the type of feedback we get from other people and events.

You can’t find your value in other people’s opinions or worldly success. 

You are a wondrous mystery that defies evaluation – a unique expression of life. 💗💗💗

But you can’t comprehend that with your analytical mind. So, save yourself a lot of suffering, and stop trying!

After my recent setback, I tried to think my way to a better opinion of myself. It didn’t work. So, I just let go instead. And then gentleness and hopefulness bubbled up. 

That’s the way it works.


  • Our culture typically trains us to seek approval from others.  Our parents and teachers tend to reward us for behaviour they want to encourage and punish us for behaviour they want to discourage.
  • This can lead to a lifetime of people-pleasing.  When it comes to our bodies, this often means constantly looking to other people to validate our attractiveness.
  • We can free ourselves from the painful habit of approval-seeking for our appearance by dropping out of our thinking, getting more familiar with the space within which our thinking arises and having a direct experience of our essential spiritual nature, which is loving, wise and creative.  In this way, we get our own evidence of our value and become less reliant on others to validate us.

And now it's over to you.  What do you think?

  • Where do you think a person's value comes from?
  • Where do you see your value coming from?

Reach out if you'd like support

I needed help to understand where my value truly came from and to get on this learning curve. If you struggle with body image and would like some help, reach out to me. And let’s explore this together. Together we can do what we could never do alone. 🥰

 Check out my free resources or find out how you can work with me.

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