Tag Archives: toxic traits

What is self-worth and how can we build on it?

I was doing some research this afternoon to look up some popular trends in blog topics that I could write about. I realized I have written a lot about self-care and the importance of caring for ourselves during challenging times – but I haven’t touched on the importance of self-worth.

This is something that I often struggle with and it’s partly what led me to therapy – to work on issues on self-esteem and self-confidence. Too often we give ourselves to others we love while neglecting the care we need for ourselves. These articles are gentle reminders not only to me, but to my readers as well that we all need to take time for our “self” health.

Today I want to explore the meaning of self-worth and how we can build up self-worth in our daily life.

What is self-worth?

Self-worth can have many different meanings for many different people. In general, self-worth refers to how we feel about ourselves overall and how we act or behave towards others.

Self-worth often blends in with other “self” terms like self-esteem, self-confidence, loving yourself and so on. I guess the question here becomes – how can we know is our self-worth is enough? What is enough self-worth? And how do you build on self-worth when you’re feeling low about life overall?

Self-worth Meaning

When you look up the definition of self-worth, Merriam Webster describes it as “a feeling that you are a good person, who deserves to be treated with respect.” Some would argue that self-worth is more about your behaviours than your emotions – how you act towards others is one way you can measure your self-worth.


Here’s another self word for you – self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is usually achieved through competing with others. For instance, when you think of movie stars who have received dozens of awards or athletes who have shelves full of trophies. These awards and accomplishments can be an ego booster and help to build up our image to others.

But we must be careful here. While self-acceptance can be a good way to boost our sometimes fragile egos, too much self-acceptance can lead to negative qualities such as arrogance, and even more dangerously – narcissism.

Measuring Self-worth

There are many factors that come into play when measuring our self-worth. Appearance, money, or class in society, social circles, (think elite status in Hollywood), your career and what you achieve.

For me – self-worth was apparent when I was involved in music competitions. I always wanted to win. But over the years, I only took home a couple of awards. While I knew I had done my very best in my performance, there was always someone who was that much better than me. And it drove me to be a better musician. Competition was the driving force behind my musical studies as a junior high and high school student.

Healthy outlook on self-worth

For me, music competition was a healthy outlet and way to gain recognition among my peers in the music community. Every time I competed, I learned something new by watching others perform. Like I remember this one kid, who not only played a mean jig on the piano, but he also kept in time with a foot block. I had never seen that before in a live competition and even I had to admit – he deserved the win.

For non-music people, self-worth can be measured by how well you perform at your job no matter what your job is. Are you expecting a bonus at the end of the quarter? Or perhaps you finally got that promotion you’ve been working hard for?

Or maybe you’re a student striving for straight A’s. Or you’re a mom with two kids and a job and are looking to make some more time for yourself – even just fifteen minutes each day. These are all valid and healthy ways to measure your self-worth.

How to Build Up Self-Worth

A question I see often on Reddit boards is – how can I like myself better? How can I feel good about what I’ve done? Or how can I build up my confidence?

As a mid-forties female, the one thing I can tell you for sure is this is not an easy feat. All it takes is one bully or one person to nag at you or constantly poke fun at your failures or mistakes – and that one person can undo years of work you’ve put into yourself.

The one thing I have learned in this life of mine, is that what we put out into this world comes back to us. It may not come to us right away – but karma usually finds a way. So, I try and live by the motto that “do unto others as I wish they would to me” even if they are the meanest person on the planet.

Though sometimes this can be hard to do when we’re not feeling very giving or want to be selfish – just this once. And it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. At least it is in my eyes – because we all deserve a little selfishness. Especially when we give so much of ourselves to others.

Learned behaviours

What I’ve also learned in this life, is that our behaviours often come from learned behaviour – even early on in life. We learn certain things from our parents and our siblings – whether they are good or bad. Children often mimic their parents especially as toddlers when they get to that stage of copying everything you do.

The most important advice I can give here is to practice the art of unconditional love. Practice daily gratitude and show appreciation for the things and people you do have in life. Make small goals for yourself and reward yourself when you’ve met those goals. No matter what those goals are.

I was lucky enough to have a great set of parents. Both were hardworking and ethical who always tried to lend a helping hand to our community and those in need. My mother often sacrificed family time to go on the road and help volunteer at a national level. Because of her hard work on programs like the Block Parents, she was able to help thousands of families across the country. In my eyes, this my made my mum – invaluable.

That’s always been my goal in life. To become invaluable like my mother and father were in their own fields. My dad was a successful business owner and I learned business ethics from him. My parents always managed to put food on the table and clothes on our backs even during difficult times. And to me – that was an invaluable lesson to learn as a child. It helped shape who I am today.

I try to live by the example they lead. I try to live by their ethics and all the good things in life that they practiced as well.

I realize that not everyone grew up in a household like mine. Looking back now, we were one of the lucky families. We had our shares of troubles and loss – but my parents were always able to work through it all together.

Daily exercises for self-worth

Remember, I’m not a trained psychologist. I did work in the health field for six years and learned a lot during my time in the provincial health system. The information I pass on here in this blog comes from research and my own personal experiences. The advice I’m giving below is what has worked for me.

Practice daily gratitude

The art of daily gratitude is something I too struggle with. I complain way more than I should. I have a friend on Facebook who has been writing “daily gratitude” posts on her Facebook status. Surprisingly, she’s kept it up for over a year. They say that it takes two or three weeks to form a habit. If you start off by writing something you are thankful for every day, it can change the way you think about life in general.

Goal Planning

Set small but realistic goals for yourself. Whether it’s to get a promotion at your job, take a new course, get straight A’s in school or lose by five pound – write it down and come up with a realistic plan. People often fail at their goals because they’ve set the starting bar too high and give up early. By starting off small, you can work your way up. Start with short-term goals that you can achieve each month and work up to longer term goals.

Law of Attraction

I’m not all new agey and into the law of attraction, but there is merit to this way of thinking. What you put out into the world often comes back at you. People will remember you most for how you treated them. If you practice good work ethics, try also working on being kind to others – even to those who don’t seem to deserve the kindness. This can be a hard thing to do. I’m still working on it.

Some people believe that what you put out into this world, will come back to you. So, if you’re working more on positive instead of negative, and having an upbeat outlook on life – things may start to turn around for you.

Thank you for reading

I think that’s a good place to end the article. I just saw another baby mouse (same one from yesterday I think) and I need to go bleach my eyes and floor out. Hope you enjoyed this article on self-worth. If you’re interested in writing down your goals, I have some worksheets and digital journals you can purchase via Etsy.

What are you hoping to change this year in your life? Let me know in the comments!

Subscribe now!

You will never be spammed.

How to tell if a person is a narcissist

A discussion popped up on Reddit today and it got me thinking about my most recent ex-love Trigger. That’s not my nickname for him. That’s what he called himself online if you can believe that.

The discussion was about a certain politician that many of us in Alberta have come to loathe. On the day that was meant for celebration for many people, this guy goes ahead and picks a fight with the newly inaugurated president. On the DAY OF inauguration. Who the heck does that?

But politics isn’t the point of this post. What I did recognize right away with this most recent news is that this person is likely a narcissist. He displays all the classic behaviours that a narcissist would. And oddly enough, it just clued in that my ex was indeed a narcissist.

What are narcissistic behaviours to watch out for?

That’s a good question. And there are a lot of different answers for this. I’ll give you some examples that I saw in my ex. Only not at the time I was dating him because you know. Love makes you stupid, deaf and dumb. Here are some key signs to look for when entering a new relationship – whatever that might relationship be.


It’s more than just arrogance or self-entitlement with narcissists. These people often display a sense of superiority – that they are better than people who are “beneath” them. Narcissists fully believe that they are better than others and only want to associate with people of the same class or higher. They often will do anything to become successful often harming others along the way.

The self-entitlement my ex displayed at times was astonishing. He thought that because I was single and lived alone at home, that he could come and go as he pleased. He thought my requirements for him to call at least once a week were “too demanding” and that he shouldn’t have to cater to my every need. Yet, whenever he called – he expected me to drop everything for him. And sadly, I did. I made myself TOO available for him. And that can be a bad thing when it’s abused.

Needs constant attention

As I’m writing this article out, I’m beginning to worry that I may be a narcissist myself. I think in some cases, artists can be seen as narcissistic. But it comes with the territory. When you’re constantly marketing and “pimping” out your products on a daily basis, it can be difficult to talk about anything else. When you run a blog like this – a “daily diary” sort of blog – it can seem like the writer is in love with themselves. But anyone who has read any of my posts will know that’s not the case.

A narcissist will constantly talk about themselves without asking how the other person is doing. Or they will constantly interrupt you to talk about themselves. Or better yet – any time you have good news or something important that you want to talk about – they will turn around and make the conversation all about them.

I try and make a point with every email or text to ask how the other person is doing. And not only that, but I make it a point to actually listen and provide feedback. Relationships can’t be a one way street.

I’ve been accused of doing this in some discussions. But something I’ve learned is that in order to give advice on situations, I often pull from my own experiences. I’ll share my story or experience and follow that up with some advice – but only if asked for it. Narcissists love to give unsolicited advice to make themselves feel better about a situation.

The narcissist will often seek constant praise. And I mean constant. Again, I’m worried as an artist that I just might be what I fear the most.

The Hot Headed Bully

A narcissist will often bully others to make themselves feel better about their lives. From my experience, I often feel that these people either loathe themselves or are really insecure about something and they use narcissistic behaviours to hide their insecurites.

Woah. That just sounded like something a therapist would have said. I think I missed my calling as a life coach.

My ex had a temper on him. I remember one day we were bickering by text. And I admit, I was acting a bit bratty. Sometimes I liked to poke the bear as we called it. But one day we both crossed the line.

He called me and SCREAMED at me over the phone as I was getting into a cab to go home from work. I had to hold the phone away from my ear he was so loud. That was uncalled for. I don’t even remember what I said to him for him to react that way. But wow.

He also once threatened me. He came barging into my old condo, slammed the door. Threw my key card onto my table so hard it chipped the glass. He was physically vibrating and his face turned a shade of red I had only seen in cartoons.

For the first time in our four year relationship, I actually feared him and for my safety. And the worst part of it was – I had contributed to it. We broke up not long after that. We realized we were toxic for each other and it was a vicious cycle of abuse. Some relationships are just like that.

Never takes responsibility

When I make a mistake, I learned it’s better to own up to it rather than deflecting blame onto someone else. Even if it was someone else’s fault, I will explain what happened that led up to the mistake, and will usually follow up with a “I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.” My ex on the other hand – never took responsibility for anything.

“I lost my phone again. It’s not my fault you need constant contact,” he once said to me.

“It’s my fault you lost your phone for the third time while pig hunting? You know that’s statistically impossible right?” I quipped back.

And then he would go radio silent until I apologized. That guy had me wrapped around his stubby pinky finger. He knew exactly what buttons to push to get me to do anything he wanted.

Narcissists will never admit when they are wrong. They will always deflect the blame onto someone else. Always. I can’t tell you how many times my ex would blame me for him not being able to show up for a day or canceling last minute. It really did a number on my psyche.

Emotional Blackmail

This is what I’ve noticed about narcissistic people. They will often use emotional blackmail to make you feel bad about something they did wrong. This comes in part with not being able to take responsibility for their actions.

When you hear statements like, “I work so hard for my business and my family, the least you could do is accept that I can’t call you for weeks at a time. Maybe even months.”

They have a way of making their demands seem reasonable in turn, making you feel selfish for asking. They will often make you feel like you’re crazy in an effort to manipulate you. And then, the icing on the cake – they’ll make you feel guilty about it until you apologize!

“You’re over thinking it way too much,” my ex would often tell me. “I’m not shutting you out personally, I shut out everyone for weeks at a time.”

Of course it turns out he was lying about this. But that’s just one of many examples.

Cutting the cord on toxic relationships

This topic deserves a blog post of its own and I will work on that soon. When it comes to having a narcissist in your life, whether they are a family member, friend or coworker – it’s important to establish healthy boundaries. You have every right to say what you’re comfortable and what you’re not comfortable with.

For example, I confided in my therapist during our last session that I felt I was reaching out to a certain friend who reads this blog way too much. I thought she might feel overwhelmed with how needy I was being through all of the drama that was happening in my life. That’s part of living with anxiety from day to day.

My therapist gave me some great advice and said: “That’s why it’s healthy to set boundaries. And that’s why you have me. Try not to reach out to her everyday. Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts at night time. Keep a journal next to your bed and write down your concerns.”

It was great advice – and it’s why I’m back to writing almost daily here in this blog. This is my very public daily journal. I figure at the very least, if it’s not entertaining, perhaps some people can learn from my mistakes.

To Summarize

The main take aways from this article on how to spot a narcissistic person are:

  • They never take responsibility for their mistakes and will deflect blame onto everyone else.
  • They need constant attention and constant praise (yay social media!)
  • They believe they are superior over most people and have unrealistic expectations of others who do not meet their demands
  • They often will use emotional blackmail or will bully others to feel better about themselves
  • They make EVERYTHING about them – even when it’s your special day

Learn to set boundaries in your relationships. Distance yourself from these people if necessary. Only communicate when you have to. And keep conversation to a minimum responding with only the details that they need to know. The less you share about your personal life with these people, the less ammo they have to use on your later on.

If a person is relying on you too much – you can tell them in a kind way that it’s too much pressure for you. Doing this is sometimes kinder than just stopping communication all together.

Never miss a post! Follow blog now!

How to recognize emotional abuse

Emotional abuse comes in many forms and isn’t always easy to recognize. Sometimes abuse is subtle while in other cases, emotional abuse can leave lasting scars that never fully heal. I speak here, from personal experience and I am going to share some warning signs to look out for.

Unfortunately, I’ve been in my fair share of abusive relationships. Not just emotional abuse, but physically and verbally abusive as well. I’ve learned over the years what are some major red flags early in a relationship.

But emotional abuse is a harder beast to recognize. Sometimes the abuse is so subtle, you don’t even realize it’s happened – until it’s too late. By this point, you’re invested in the relationship.

The worst part of it? The abuser will use tactics to keep you isolated from your support group. And worse – they will at some point, try to blame everything on you – so you’re constantly apologizing for something that isn’t your fault at all.

It’s messed up, isn’t it? And maybe I can’t word this so eloquently as I’d like to, but here are a few warning signals to look out for early on in relationships.


A classic tactic by emotional abusers is to try and isolate their partners. In early stages of the relationship, they will spend as much time with you, getting to know you and wanting to talk to you all the time. It may seem like they are enthralled by you – and they very well may be.

But this is often a tactic abusers use to isolate their victims. In some cases, the victim won’t even realize it until they’re totally cut off from their friends and family.

Some things I’ve heard from former partners:

  • “I don’t want you to see that person, I don’t like how they treat you.”
  • “I want to spend all free time with you, is that so wrong?”

Keeping you isolated from your loved ones is a sign of emotional abuse. This may lead to physical abuse and makes it easier to hide. The abuser also knows that without your support group around, they can get away with more devious behaviour.

Emotional Neglect

My ex, Trigger, used to ignore me for weeks on end. I realized later, that this was extremely unhealthy and it was a form of emotional abuse. He would ignore me – I’d get upset over it. He’d come over and apologize and blame his PTSD. Things would get better for a month, and then he’d go right back to ignoring me. This went on for nearly FOUR years. I won’t even count the last year as a relationship. It really wasn’t – in hindsight.

Some abusers will outright punish their victims by purposefully ignoring them. This is especially terrible when living together. Ignoring someone as punishment after a fight is not only emotionally abusive but it’s also highly manipulative.

In many cases, the victim will apologize for something they didn’t even do or weren’t at fault for – until the abuser speaks to them again.

Shutting someone out for weeks at a time while supposedly in a loving relationship – it’s just so wrong. While I didn’t expect daily contact from my ex – it wasn’t in our arrangement – being ignored for weeks on end without an explanation caused me a lot of pain and I acted out because of it.

Humiliation and bullying

Humiliation is a common tactic used by bullies to intimidate their partners. Name-calling, shaming, derogatory pet-names or character assignations are all examples of how a person can humiliate you.

There was someone in my family who loved doing this to me at every family dinner. When I finally called her out for it, I remember hearing other family members say, “Oh, that’s just the way she is.”

Every time I opened my mouth up at the dinner table, any ideas or suggestions I brought forward were met with “you’re ridiculous” or “that’s not right” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She loved to publicly embarrass me and tell humiliating stories that happened twenty years ago – she still brings them up every now and then.

I remember one time she tried to tell me I didn’t know what a migraine was – after having been diagnosed with chronic migraines. That’s “just how she was”.

If I left the dinner table or stormed out of the room, I was labelled as childish and in the end – she won. I gave her exactly what she wanted.

Humiliation Tactics

Humiliation can be subtle – things like eye-rolling, smirking, laughing or even exchanging a glance with someone else can also be signs that someone is making fun of you.

Dismissiveness – so many times while speaking up at family dinner parties, I was met with dismissive remarks.

“I remember that – it happened when I was living in the basement. I loved living in the basement. It was like having my own apartment as a kid.” – I said at one family dinner.

“You never lived in the basement,” she said to me.

“Uh, yes I did. In elementary school. For like a year,” I reminded her.

Everyone else at the table nodded and she just rolled her eyes at me.

“I hate the organ music. Why can’t you just play the piano more often? The hymns are so awful,” she would say.

“You don’t have to come to church, you could just, you know, stay home,” I would reply back – and that often shut her up.

If I was in a good mood, she’d often shut it down by saying something like “you look fat in that” or “you shouldn’t wear that colour, it makes you look ugly”.

I know there’s a lot of more that I’m missing – but I think I’ve blocked out a lot of the things she has said to me over the years. I hardly see her now outside of Christmas dinners.

And the family wonders why I don’t want to spend much time with them.

Recognizing emotional abuse and standing up for yourself

As time went on, I learned to accept these people for who they are and that they will never change. I also learned to stick up for myself. And I learned that I didn’t have to call these kinds of people family. Even though we were related – I didn’t need to see them outside of family gatherings. And even then – I could keep attendance to a minimum. Which I have – happily – for quite some time now. I turn down invitations to parties, and even weddings – mostly – because I don’t want to be around these people who think so little of me.

Life is too short. I’d rather be with people who respect me for who I am – and not make a mockery of me behind my back.

I remember my brother in law telling me on the way home, “You should hear what they say behind your back.” And I should have asked for clarification on who was saying these things. I’m guessing it was my immediate family – some of them anyway.

We’ve never seen eye to eye. They look down on me because I’m not married and don’t have a lot of money. They also make fun of me because of my weight. It’s why I very rarely see them on a social level. Why would I constantly subject myself to that?

Just because you’re related to someone – doesn’t mean you have to like them. Or even spend time with them. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are. Not those who are taking advantage of you.

I think I’m going to stop there because I’m getting worked up thinking about past experiences. I’m in a healthier place in my life now. I know what’s right and what’s wrong. I know that I can’t change who people are but I can change how I react to them.

I also know what signs to look out for in relationships. And I also know that even family members can be toxic. It’s why I write this blog under “Wendy” only – because I don’t even want them to read these thoughts here. I know there will be backlash.

If you have someone in your life who is constantly putting you down, they dismiss everything you have to say, they yell at you for no reason or they thrive off making you feel bad —

Then cut your losses. Say your goodbyes. Remove yourself from that person. Even if they’re family.

Because life is just too short to even worth trying to be a people pleaser. The issue isn’t you at all. It’s them.

Learn to stand up for yourself and be your own advocate.

But most of all, know that you are worth so much more than these abusers (and assholes) can give you.