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Is your “hyper-achiever” personality hiding a lack of true self-esteem?

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

And stripping you from feeling happy and wholesome!

Who are you without what you accomplish?

Without that job? That title? That role? Do you define yourself and the abundance in your life by the amount of money you have accumulated?

I asked myself those questions many times throughout my life. In fact each time I took a break from work, a wanted break, an awaited break (including 2 maternity leaves), I found myself feeling suprisingly uncomfortable, wondering what my worth was in society without what I do, without my accomplishments.

I had put my self-worth on the conditional term that I would be a “sucessful” woman, defined at the time as studying in a field that was valued in the society bubble I lived in, a career that would take me high enough, earning high income, I would be married, have a few kids, be a great mother, a working mother, I would have a great body… Those are some of the conditions I had put on myself to see myself as “successful”; conditions for me to accept and love myself.

And from the outside world, I had made it, I obtained a Master of Science in a great university in the US, then an MBA from one of the top universities in the world, I had that great job in a great company, in an industry my bubble valued, I was in a relationship, I was fit, active, had a good social life.

On the inside, I was not truly satisfied, often anxious and unhappy… I compared myself, my achievements with others and the standards I had set for myself. And was always coming to the conclusion that this was not good enough. I was not good enough.

I am not alone here. I coach a lot of “achievers”, that come to me because they have lost a sense of self, they are unsatisfied with themselves and their lives, even though, from a western culture standard, their life is very “successful”.

So why are we feeling this is not enough? Where is our achiever personality coming from? Why is our worth mainly attached to those achievements?

This linkage of self-worth and achievement is a conditioning, a learnt belief. From where we are from, our family, our culture. We live in a western society that value money, achievement, beauty, looks, celebrities…. Success is defined by the amount of money in the bank account, certain career paths, the house you live in, the car you drive, your family size, who you are married to, your body shape, etc...

As a child, as our parents rewarded us with smiles, pads, encouragements, rewards when we won that game, had good grades, etc…and we got scolded for a poor school report, a poor performance in competition, a body that was not according to the societal beauty norms, a mistake we made…we believe that in order to feel loved we needed to have good grades, behave a certain way, achieve, win the baseball games, get that medal, have a certain body type, behave a certain way. When we didn’t get that “medal”, and didn’t get the parental reward or approval, our child’s mind body created the meaning to those events as a lack of love… a sense of not being good enough… “ I am not worthy of love”.

The young child brain is not able to differentiate the failure to accomplish and the failure as a human being…the doing versus the being. And this is the ultimate and deepest pain a child can experience: a rejection from the tribe… almost felt as a risk to ones own survival …

All those moments of pain are being stored in the mind (visual and verbal memories) and the body (as emotions, sensations, physiological reactions) memories, reimprinted at each perceived “failure”, coming to reinforce that belief “I am not good enough”… (If the trauma is too big to handle, there might be dissociation between the mind and body memory, but that is the subject of another conversation…)

As an adult, we keep that programming and the reward mentality, and we feel we SHOULD study in this university, SHOULD get that job in this company, NEED validation from our family, our boss, that career advancement, that bigger house, that bigger car, that relationship with this type of person… The way to show people we have made it.

We believe that if we accomplished all of this, we might finally be lovable.

What happens then when you don’t get or loose that job, or don’t get that career advancement, or don’t get the number of clients you wanted, or your boss is not satisfied by that last report or you find yourself single later in life… If you allow yourself and sit and feel …. Maybe you first have a few protective parts of yourself that show up telling you how silly this is, that should be grateful for what you have, or some protective parts might show up blaming others or systems for your feeling of scarcity, feeling anger and frustration… But for most humans, when you manage to go beneath those first feelings, and truly connect deep into yourself, the emotion that comes is a feeling of not being good enough.

Not being worthy of love. Deep pain. Rejection. The wounded child coming back, reviving those mind body memories from childhood. Because you believe those external factors are so deeply connected to your own identity, your own worth as a human. You believe your worth is in your accomplishments.

Let me tell you, there is a better way of living! A more fullfilling peaceful wholesome life. Without having to relive and feel either that angry, frustrated protective part or that wounded child pain …again and again. And denying those feelings is not the answer.

Since all those programs, beliefs, values are transmitted, and are only a perception of reality, there is a way out.

You can choose to re-define yourself on your own terms. You can decide that your value, your worth will not to be determined by the outdated rules of today’s world. And definitely not defined by what most people around you chose to do as career or what people think about the choices you make in your life. Because the truth is that none of this matters. Those accomplishments, the size of your house, the facade of a happy family, the perfect body… when you are struggling internally.

What matters is the intrinsic qualities of your being.

Of course, all those beliefs have been imprinted in your mind body for a very long time, some you might not be able to actually identify, so you might need some support along the way to reprogram new beliefs in the mind and body, to reframe, to discharge the emotional memory, reimprint new meanings to those childhood scars. Support can come from a coach, a therapist, you can start with a trusted friend.

However you can already start by asking yourself, if my worth is not defined by my accomplishments, what else? How can you redefine success if not from the outer stuff?

Can you start looking at and focusing on who you are more than what you do? Let’s explore this in Part II of this blog, click here.

Needing support in this exploration of self, check out my 12-week program where we go through a mind body journey to discover and cultivate a higher state of being.

Love and gratitude to all Dorothee Marossero Msc MBA is a transformational coach, creator of Fearlessly Yourself and Dottyoga. She uses Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Yoga, mindfulness, somatic and self-care approaches to bring sustainable and deep transformation to women around the world.


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