Would you ever change the choices you made in the past? Would you do things differently if you had that rare and unbelievable chance to fix what you perceive as wrong?
I have often thought about this, who doesn't it? It's been on my mind recently, and reared itself when I was invited to attend a presentation by a group of psychology students in their final year to share their work experience placement projects.
All of them had done some wonderful and meaningful work at different mental health organisations from schools to mental health facilities. Each team of presenters had to make a small video about their experiences and what they had learned. All were heart-warming and humbling.
But what stood out - apart from their wonderful presentations - was how each of them introduced themselves and their presentation.
"My name is Mary* and my presentation is about the work I did at a refuge. Sorry it's not a very good video but..." to "My name is John* and my presentation is about the work I did at a school. Sorry it's a bit boring but..."
Yes. Each student pre-empted their presentation by putting themselves down. This was their final year of psychology studies and here they were berating themselves for what was a mammoth achievement.
I'm not judging them at all, far from it, but I wonder how they would have presented their work if they felt confident in themselves? Looking forward, how will they be their best self in the future if they doubt their own self-worth now?
It reminded me of how our own self-worth can affect almost everything we do and the decisions we make in our life. Far too often we settle for lives that are below our potential because we don't believe in ourselves. These brilliant students who are looking to help others find their better selves don't seem to feel they measure up to the same level of self-care.
Lack of faith in oneself is the source of many problems in our life. Many people live guided by fear and with the misguided belief that they aren't good enough. From relationships that do nothing for our self-worth to negative work environments, there are just so many aspects of our life that we accept as a given, even though our intuition tells us that something is not right. We end up valuing the opinion of others more than our own. We lose our inner voice.
But how different would our lives be if we believed in ourselves and embraced our unique and true self? What would you tell yourself if you had a positive sense of self-worth? Would you be in a different job? A different relationship? Or maybe just happy to be alone and free of obligation?
It's simple, but what would you say to yourself about your own self-worth? Do you believe that you are being the best 'you' that you can be?
One of the ways to avoid that feeling of regret, of wanting to change the past is to ensure that you value yourself and your choices in the present.
Why not give this exercise a try?
Start by writing a letter to yourself. Ask yourself, "How do I feel about my life journey until now? How different would things be if I believed in myself? How do I see my future when I value my self-worth in a positive light? What can I achieve today if I believe in myself?"
A powerful aspect of this writing exercise is sharing it. This can also be the most frightening part! Maybe share it with a special friend, or share it with us - we'd love to hear about your own self-worth journey. You'd be surprised how liberating it is to share, and you know what? Part of believing in yourself is allowing others to see the true you too.
None of us were born to live in worry, anxiety, stress, and pain. We all have the power and strength within us to be our best self, but to do that, we must embrace all elements of who we are. Don't allow yourself to wonder 'what if' for a single moment longer.
*Mary and John aren't their real names. Of course.
Elizabeth Venzin is the Founder and CEO of the Australian Not-for-Profit Organisation The MindShift Initiative. Her book about her own journey of breaking away from the shadows of low self-esteem will be published in 2016.