As a thoroughly modern woman, Cassie Mendoza-Jones seemed to have it all - a great education, an online business, a growing social media following. For many of her generation, she was living the dream and showing us all how it’s done. But underneath that laser-sharp focus on green smoothies and entrepreneurship was a deep self-doubt.
How do you shine in a world so obsessed with outward appearance? And how do you grow and achieve your dreams without getting stuck in the cycle of comparison with others? For Cassie, it was all about discovering that she was enough. Amy Taylor-Kabbaz spoke with the young Hay House author about her new book, the online world, and how to stay in the flow of your own life.
What is your definition of real worth? Real worth comes from a detachment from your achievements and from external expectations and perceptions. It comes from knowing that you are enough and you are worthy no matter what you’re doing, how much you’re achieving, what you think you look like, if you think you need to be thinner or smarter or prettier or blonder or whatever. It is about coming back to your true core essence of who you are and knowing that you don’t have to do more or achieve more or be better in order to prove and love yourself as you are.
How did you discover your own sense of worth? I wish it was a quick turning point, but I have to say it took a while! In the first few years of my business I went through a long period where I compared myself to other people in the wellness and health industry, to such a degree it was quite paralysing. It crippled me in so many ways – my creativity, my productivity, what I was putting out in this world, who I was. I really was holding myself back in terms of how I was expressing myself, until I started to realise that I was losing my sense of self and losing my own unique voice because I was so consumed by what other people were doing. I realised that I had to let that go, and I had to come back to who I was, what I love doing, how I could be creative, and how I can show up in the world in such a way that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing because I won’t be thinking about them. Instead, I would be focused on myself.
When it comes to social media, we have to remember that we’re not getting the full story. It’s very easy for people to believe that beautiful Instagram feed and a person’s life is perfect, but it can put people on a pedestal. We all have days when life is not like that, and it’s normal and fine to have a day where you aren’t eating what would look like a perfect instagram feed meal. Trust yourself and trust your body that you know what you need and you know what to eat, and try not to listen to the million different fad diets out there and just come back to nourishing yourself because you know it’s good for you.
It’s important everyone comes to their own understanding of what ‘self-worth’ means, as the term may not resonate with you in the same way it does with me. You might want to call it self-confidence, self-trust, self-love, or even just understand it as a deep belief that you are good enough as you are. All of these terms cross over with one another, and yet they all mean different things to different people. Even after years in the personal development world, and even though I honour and practise this, ‘self-love’ is a term that doesn’t always resonate with me (it kind of depends on the day!) but self-worth absolutely does.
The way I explain it to my clients is that self-worth provides a deep sense of confidence, belief, assurance, and belonging in ourselves. In fact it’s more than confidence - it’s a deeply rooted self-belief, knowing that we are doing enough, doing the right thing, and that we don’t need to earn our stripes or become more accomplished, before we think we’re good enough.
How do you stop comparing yourself to others and start focusing within? Well for me, I stopped spending a lot of time on social media. Of course, I still went online because I’m running my own business and so I need to have a presence there, but I created a ‘two scroll’ rule, and it sounds funny but it really worked! I only allowed myself to scroll through a social media feed twice. Social media is incredible in so many ways, but it can be like a hole you fall into. And if you are feeling triggered by other people and are putting people on pedestals, it can be quite detrimental.
I’d like to help people release that fear of never being enough. I’d like to help them feel clear when they wake up, energetically alert, awake and aligned. I’d like to help them clear the niggling negative thoughts that keep telling them that they’ll only be more when they work harder; that whisper words like 'You’re not good enough', 'You’ll never have what she has'. I want to help them understand what their body is trying to tell them, when they’re burnt out and pushing themselves to their limits in the name of self-worth, achievement and perfectionism.
I know all of this because I’ve lived it and because I’ve been able to support hundreds of women through a place of crushing self-comparison, perfectionism and low self-worth, to a place where they value, love, honour and respect themselves.
What if our sense of worth is tied up with always getting things perfectly right? You just have to push through it. Perfectionism is resistant: it’s a form of procrastination or fear in disguise, and you have to just get moving anyway. We often think being a perfectionist helps us be our best selves, but actually it’s stopping us from showing our true selves. It’s this irony that we feel that if we are perfect, we’ll be better - yet we’ll never be perfect, so we just hold ourselves back.
I realised while writing this book that I am a perfectionist, but I also love momentum and flow and moving forward and you can’t have both. You can’t be a perfectionist and create action in your life unless you let go of that perfectionism. But you can still show up every day and do your best work, and you can still want the best for yourself, if at some stage you say: 'This is good enough'.
Is there is a shift towards women starting to value themselves? Yes. And I think the shift is that they are realising that they can find and ask for support from external sources, but also lean on and trust themselves and know, deep down, that they can open up to guidance and trust what is coming from their intuition, and from a higher source. It’s not just about looking outside of yourself all the time. Even though I honour and practise this, ‘self-love’ is a term that doesn’t always resonate with me (it kind of depends on the day!) but self-worth absolutely does.
Four to FLOW
There are four mindset shifts that can benefit us when it comes to releasing our perception - ‘perception’ being the most important word - of what other people think of us, or our perception of how we’re showing up in the world, in order to fully feel our worth as human beings, without having to do more, be more, have more or prove ourselves to anyone. I call it FLOW:
1. Follow your own path
2. Let go of your perceptions
3. Open up to new attitudes and patterns
4. Work with what you have
Working with the FLOW approach allows you to clear some of the saboteurs that run through your mind on repeat, and cause you to keep worrying about what other people are (most likely not) thinking about you.
Follow your own path
Sometimes we worry about taking our own steps forward and forging our own path, because of the paths others have taken before us. This could be something that’s been passed down in your family. Maybe your father was an accountant, and his father was an accountant, and his father’s father was a accountant. So when you say you want to study art, chaos and judgement follows. While we can’t always change what other people are thinking of us, we can release our fear around not meeting their expectations when we decide to take our own path. Following your own path might not make sense to anyone else, and that’s OK. The more you feel centred in your decision, the more aligned you can be about clarifying your vision and purpose. Then the easier it will be to stay on your path, whether you think it’ll make someone else happy or not.
Let go of your perceptions
Your perceptions are simply perceptions; they’re your ego’s way of keeping you exactly where you are, because that’s where it feels safest. You can let go of your perceptions, you can let go of your worry. Your perceptions of how other people see you can be tainted by your ego, but also often by a lack of communication. When you can fully let go of these perceptions, you’ll find it so much easier to stop worrying about what other people think of you. There’s no magic formula for doing this. In the past, the best thing I could do for myself when I knew I was worrying too much about others’ opinions was to strengthen my sense of self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence.
Open up to new attitudes and patterns
Much like letting go of your perceptions, sometimes just opening up the lines of communication with others, creating new patterns and creating space for these new patterns to enter your mind and your life is an important first step. A new attitude might mean that you spend time working out what your triggers are as well. What makes you think someone else doesn’t like you? What makes you worry that someone is unhappy with you or your work? Is it just a fleeting expression on their face? Could you have mistaken that look for contempt, when maybe they just realised their shirts are still at the drycleaners and now it’s too late to pick them up? Your perceptions and attitudes are linked. It’s important to work out when you’re being blocked or blocking yourself, so you can create healthier new patterns, and then give yourself permission to simply let it go.
Work with what you have
A lot of our worry about what other people are thinking of us comes down to self-esteem, self-belief and self-worth. How many times have you thought to yourself, 'I think she’d like me more if I were more XYZ' or 'He’s definitely unimpressed with me because I don’t have enough XYZ'? Now, this thing you have or don’t have could be something personal or emotional, or a physical product or item. The truth is, we’re always given what we can handle and manage. So if you don’t have this ‘thing’, you most likely really don’t need it (now or ever). Instead of making yourself believe that you’ll be better or more liked or more popular if you have more (of anything!), I want you to start believing that you have everything you need right now. And if you needed more, you’d have it. Work with what you have, realising that all the good stuff you still want is in your reach, but it won’t make you a better person all on its own. You’ll make yourself a better person, starting right now. It won’t make you change your perceptions or attitudes. Only you can do that.