Self Worth and Mental Health

Avthar’s Weekly Wisdom #22 (9/26/2020)

Hey friends,

There’s a mental health epidemic going on in the world today: So many of us don’t feel good about being ourselves on a day to day basis.

At the root of it is self worth. Self worth, or self-esteem, is the value you place on yourself as a person.

I’m no expert, but from my experience, I’ve found that the cause of much of the anxiety and fear is due to conditional self-worth. That means basing your value as a person on things outside yourself, like money, grades and followers.

I’ve experienced the harms of conditional self-worth first hand, with my time in elite academic environments being a good teaching example. In school, I was fortunate to perform well academically, starting at a young age. As one of my friends comedically put it, I “ranked first since they started counting”. That earned me the label of the “smart kid”. 

While working to reinforce the identity of “being smart” had benefits in the short term, like earning prizes, scholarships and acceptances to prestigious universities, in the long term it made me base my self worth on my academic performance. The result was that I determined my value as a person on external outcomes rather than internal values. This led to living in states of fear and anxiety, constantly wondering if I was doing enough to prove to the outside world that I was, indeed, “smart” enough.

Now I wish I could end this letter by saying, “Well that was then, but now I’m totally healed and have unconditional self worth and love myself all the time.” The truth is that it’s still a problem I’m solving. It’s a constant battle for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you reading this. As a technology professional I fall in the trap of basing my worth on the company I work for, the role I’m in and the salary I make. As a creator, too often I judge my worth by my subscriber numbers, Twitter followers and website visitors.

Basing your self-worth in external things leads to misery. Part of the reason is that external things never last. They change, they fade, they’re subject to the whims of markets and nature. One day you could be worth a billion dollars and the next day 0. Another part of the reason is that no amount of external validation will ever fill the hole of believing that you’re worthy as a person, simply because you’re you. You’ll always want more and more confirmation because you rely on the world to tell you who you are. 

An antidote to conditional self-worth is understanding the root of the problem: Why do you feel that you’re worthy only because you possess or have done certain things? The answer will be different for everyone, but asking the question is an important first step to freeing yourself and giving yourself permission to be happy during your short time on earth.

The truth is that life is too short to be unhappy, especially when the root cause is something within your control. As the blogger Delusion Damage said, “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” 

Translating that to self-worth context, conditional self-worth is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy about being yourself until conditions outside your control are met.

Now, who in their right mind would sign such a contract?

I don’t have solutions, just questions to ask. I hope they help you.

With gratitude and love, 


Curation corner

🧪 The Biotech Bro: Agustin Zavala

This week on the Learn with Avthar Podcast, I interviewed Agustin Zavala (Biotech_Bros). Agustin is a healthcare consultant for Bionest Partners. He's the host of the Biotech Bros podcast and managing director of Biosphere Capital Management. Agustin graduated from Princeton University, with a degree in molecular biology and is a jiu-jitsu practitioner. In addition to being an all round awesome person, he’s also a reader of this newsletter! 🎉

In the episode, Agustin and I discuss:

  • Agustin's creator's journey and why he started a biotech investing podcast and investment fund

  • How he's discovered his natural strengths and interests

  • The future of content, side hustles and monetization

You’ll also learn about:

  • Why being consistent and taking small steps is your best bet to success

  • How content killed the resume and the value of being a content creator

  • How to find business or project ideas

➡️ Listen on Apple Podcasts

➡️ Listen on Spotify

➡️ Listen on Google Podcasts

💪 Tony Robbins and Connor McGregor: The Road to Greatness

This conversation between Tony Robbins and Connor McGregor will leave you physically excited and spiritually moved. McGregor lands several philosophical punches in the face with quotes like:

“Your lack of commitment is an insult to people who believe in you.”

“Only the internal decides where you are, not the external. Don’t let the external shake your internal.”

➡️ Watch here

🌱 Questions to Fuel your Career Growth

A few weeks ago, as part of preparing for a discussion with my manager at Timescale, I made time to reflect on my vision for my career. I’m grateful to work with a world class team that prioritizes high performance but also the wellbeing and growth of everyone on the team. I want to share the questions my manager gave me to reflect on since they may be helpful to you in your own career:

These questions are intentionally vague. They're not designed to be "about the company you work at", they're designed to be about YOU. So, don’t be limited by your current company, role or industry.

  • What do you think you could do 10% better in your current role?

  • What do you wish you had time to learn?

  • What do you hope your former, current, and future teammates know about you? Think about strengths/weaknesses, values, attributes.

  • What do you want the pinnacle of your career to look like?

I especially love the last question about “What do you want the pinnacle of your career to look like?” because it forced me to get detailed about what success actually looked like for my career and business ambitions in general.

Reminder: Ask Me Anything (AMA) 🗣️

I’m so grateful for every one of you who read this newsletter. As a thank you, I’m hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, where I’ll be answering your questions on a special episode of the Learn With Avthar podcast.

If you’d like to submit a question to me, you can fill out the Google Form below:

Submit A Question

Questions could be about any of my essays, previous newsletters and previous work as founder, Developer Advocate or Learning Coach. You’re also welcome to also ask about my life and my opinion on things related to self-mastery, startups, health and happiness.

I’m so excited to receive your questions!

Until next week…

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I hope you have a week full of success, happiness and peace. 

Once again, thank you so much for reading!

With gratitude and love,