This article explores concrete ways of challenging low self-worth, fear and limiting self-beliefs that keep you stuck from growth and flourishing.

The day I stopped running from anxiety, fear of failing, low self-worth and inadequacy

When you decide, finally, to stop running on the fuel of anxiety, desire to prove, fear, shame, deep inadequacy – when you decide to walk away from that fuel for a while, there’s nothing but confusion and silence.’


Unlike Shauna, I wasn’t confused or silent when I decided to finally challenge my identity story. Instead, I was livid.

I was on the brink of midlife and had experienced my awakening to the new life season that beckoned me to embrace the new chapter. I had reflected on who I was before motherhood consumed two decades of my life. In addition, I had dusted the cobwebs off my old dreams, passions and life interests. It was all still there and except now it was richer and had more depth because I’d evolved more through motherhood. But along with all the new seeds to launch me into midlife, so were the old fears, insecurities, and low self-worth telling me I’m not good enough to pursue any of my dreams.

How a poor self-image is formed

Where did that poor self-image stem from? Will it always hold me captive? Will I get to the end of my life regretting that I never stood up to the paper giants and goal gremlins, including benevolent others, keeping my dreams hostage?

Shauna Niequist writes: “When you allow other people to determine your best choices; when you allow yourself to be carried along by what other people think your life should be, could be, must be; when you hand them the pen and tell them to write your story, you don’t get the pen back. Not easily anyway.”

I was determined to get back the pen to write my story as God originally intended. But where would I start?

Travel Through Time

Similar to my awakening to midlife experience, I knew I had to travel back in time to uncover the defining moment when I internalised the belief that I wasn’t good enough.

  • Why has this stopped me from pursuing my dreams?
  • Why didn’t I refute these beliefs and claim my basic human rights?
  • How has this damaged my self-worth?

Once I found the sources, I needed to make a choice. I could continue to live those lies or choose to step out of them.

Rumble With Your Distorted Stories

In a process, she calls Shift your story, shift your life, author Stephenie Zamora, provides tools to help people like me question unhelpful identity stories. The exercise helped me challenge, re-evaluate and re-frame those beliefs with deeper insight that I have now, in midlife.

Brene Brown, in her book Rising Strong calls this process a reckoning, a rumble, and a resolution.

The Reckoning, Rumble and Resolution

In the reckoning, you voice your unhelpful stories, either in a personal journal or orally to a supportive person. Then you rumble with the story by adding further details or information you had not considered before that will help you get to the truth. The resolution is about embracing the new, liberating truth that emerges from reckoning and rumble. This helps you step fully into your wholehearted self and fulfilling your potential.

I was angry with myself for sleepwalking in invisible chains for half my life. Why didn’t I question the beliefs, values, and voices that imposed an identity on me that never fit? Furthermore, why did I blindly adopt a distorted self-identity because of others’ views?

Self Compassion

I didn’t know better as a child, too young, and lacked the tools and understanding of the destructive impact of my socio-political life context. Now that I’m more self-aware, I needed to extend grace to myself for not doing better, until now.

How to Reclaim Your True Identity

Rage shifted to the determination to reclaim every ounce of my identity from captivity and fulfil every bit of potential, strength, innate gift and ability I could uncover and develop to live to thrive in midlife.

How do you reclaim your innate identity and shift from insecurity, fear of failure and low self-worth?

Put simply—by re-writing your backstory!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

How to Re-write Your Story with Truth

  • Discard false beliefs and replace them with the truth.
  • Dispel destructive voices intent on imposing a false identity on you because it veered you off course for half of your life.
  • Understand your personality and innate character traits. This will free you to be yourself and not emulate anyone else that seems better at handling life than you.
  • Uncover your innate strengths, spiritual gifts and natural abilities and harness these to live a fulfilling and purposeful life.
  • Realign and shift your true identity as a woman, spouse, mother and every other role into its rightful place. This will help you to embrace and enjoy the ways you can contribute to others’ lives more meaningfully.
  • Set clear intentions for how, where and with who you wanted to spend your life. Particularly in midlife when half of your life is spent. You become more intentional about how you want to spend your future.
  • Step fully into your innate self to enjoy a meaningful and purposeful life.

Conclusion: How reclaiming your self-worth impacts your life

Re-writing my story led me to uncover my essential self. That is the innate self that was always there. Parker Palmer describes this true self as ‘a silent river flowing beneath the ice’, waiting to be uncovered. Shauna Niequist echoes this sentiment.

I thought that my midlife season would be about pushing into a new future … and it is. I thought it would be about leaving behind the expectations and encumbrances of the past. It is. What I didn’t know is that it would feel so much like recovering an essential self, not like discovering a new one.”


See My Story and the Midlife Roadmap to learn more about how I reclaimed my identity to step fully into my midlife journey.

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