What Jane Austen's Persuasion Can Teach Us About Self Worth
What we can learn about self worth from Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
In Persuasion Jane Austen has created a quietly powerful story about knowing your worth – and being willing to allow yourself to live fully.
When I am tired and heart weary what keeps me returning to this much beloved book is how the main character, Anne Elliot, consciously chooses more and more to trust her innate wisdom and good sense above the opinions of others who don’t see her with clarity or truth.
There is so much we can learn from the wisdom contained within the pages of Jane Austen’s books.
Every time I think I know all the nuances, I discover more and more to admire!
Austen’s timeless stories unfold like lotus blossoms revealing deeper and deeper layers of wisdom with every read. She was such an astute observer of human nature! Throughout all her written works, what I love most is that she takes her readers on a journey that invites us to discover, and rediscover, what it means to truly value ourselves, our voices, and to own our choices.
Anne Elliot of Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen characters because she is on the fringes of her social circle.
She isn’t the life of the party or someone whose opinion is considered at all.
I can identify with her on so many levels!
I know what it is like to be on the outside, not because I want to be a shadow, but because I can’t connect with the people on the “inner” circle. You know, the unattainable popular circle that seems to be entered into by super ultra secret invitation only. I used to feel like there was something wrong with me. I just couldn't fit in. It would often feel like I was completely invisible. Literally Casper the ghost would get seen before I would! I would try to be friendly, helpful, smile, and when I felt brave try to participate in the conversation. But I would get interrupted before I could even get five words out! No one wanted to hear what I had to say. No one though to invite me anywhere, or if they did it was because they wanted something from me and were “doing me a favor.” Ugh.
I learned to be very quiet, a lot like Anne Elliot.
One of the reasons Anne is invisible to the people around her, particularly her immediate family circle is that she is a thinker, she considers the consequences of her actions, she is concerned about others, and she isn’t interested in surface level importance like rank and appearance. She is surrounded by people who can only see the immediate, and only care about how they are seen by others they deem as equals based on appearance or social standing or consequence.
The world hasn't change much since Austen’s time, has it?
Anne Elliot’s family simply can’t look outside of their very limited perception of the world. And worse, they are not interested in trying to learn, or expand their awareness. So naturally, Anne simply does not fit in.
It’s not that there is something wrong with Anne, or me, or you.
Sometimes not fitting in is a very good thing thing!
If appearances are all that matters, is it really worth the trouble to fit in? Do you really want to? I had to think about this a lot over the last couple of years, and what I found was that no, I don’t want to fit in if the only things that matter are surface level. What matters to me is creating hope, helping dreams come true, and saving Mother Earth along the way. I don’t have time for surface level.
We are only given so much time to do good in this world and I want to make mine count!
Yet, I used to want to fit in, very much.
I thought that if I fit in, that would mean that I mattered.
Somehow I thought that being able to fit in would help make me lovable.
In the past I thought that being accepted and considered an equal in my family and/or social circle would mean that I was loved. I thought that being one of the inner circle would help my voice be heard. Yet, the more I tried to be worthy of the elite circles, the more lost and adrift I felt.
And I was more and more of an outsider.
It took me a long time to learn that worth comes from within.
Worth does not from the outside.
It is not bestowed like a blessing at some arcane ceremony.
It truly does not matter what the “popular” people do or don’t think of me or you or anyone. It took a series of incredibly hard lessons to learn that if I continued to allow what others thought of me to influence my thoughts and actions that I was not only going to stay miserable, I was going to fade away into a ghost permanently.
It took awhile to make that shift of valuing my own worth from within, but reading Persuasion - several dozen times has certainly helped a lot! ;)
One of things I admire about Anne Elliot’s character is that she knows her value and worth.
Her sense of self worth is innate in a way that I wish all of us would have from the start.
I also find it fascinating that though she knows her worth, she does not know how to be free from the opinions of others overriding her own wishes.
Anne Elliot is certainly not alone in that! I think we have all been there at one time or another.
It’s definitely a skill we all learn by trial and error.
In the beginning of the book she feels she must consider the opinions of her immediate family and close family friends over her own. I like how she is able to discover her quiet power and learn to more and more appreciate where she is truly valued on her own merits and to let go of people who can’t see her worth. She’s a bit conflicted but moves towards what is best for her while doing what she can that is in alignment with her personal values for others.
So much to learn here!
She knows she cannot make everybody happy, and consciously chooses what will bring about her highest good. She does not seek permission, instead she draws her power from deep within and chooses to make choices that will help her feel fully and truly alive.
Another powerful thing Jane Austen’s Anne does throughout Persuasion is to question the meaning of appearance and its ability to bring out true satisfaction and happiness in a life well lived. She contemplates who and what is truly to be valued in life. She grows to realize the kind of people she really wants to be around. Throughout the book Anne decides to find threads of independence and is determined to sew them together into a beautiful life tapestry - no matter what happens.
Anne helps us see that just because we don’t fit in with the people around us, doesn't mean that they are somehow better than us.
We have inherent worth, and the people in our lives right now, or in the past, may never be able to see us truly. That’s on them. It is not our job to make them see us. We can try to talk to people, to expand their minds, but like Anne’s family, they may not be ready to listen, heed, or grow - ever. And that’s okay!
We can’t force people to change, it just makes them dig in their heels more.
We can simply keep the door open for when they are ready by sprinkling ideas into their awareness, when we can. Eventually… they may come around… but of course they will think it’s their own idea!
So let us all be inspired by Anne Elliot and her creator Jane Austen:
We can choose to go our way, to create our own happiness, independent of the needs and wants of others who cannot and will not see all the light we bring into the world.
We can choose to not let them dim our light.
We can choose to shine from within, secure in knowing that our true worth comes from within, always.
We can choose to leave social circles that would try to make us feel inferior, and instead be curious and choose to spend our time with people who never have to be convinced of our worth because they have always been able to see it shining like stars through our eyes and smiles.
Just like Anne Elliot you have deep worth simply because of who you are.
Helping you see your worth and the power of your dreams is why I paint and draw inner light portraits.
It is time to see that you are worthy of love, success, and positive notice.
It is time to feel free to speak up and be heard.
It is time to make empowered choices about what is right for you.
It is incredibly important to me to help women, including you, see the value of who you are. You are magnificent, capable, intelligent, and strong in so many incredible ways! But right now you may not be able to identify with that because the people in your life from family to so called friends are telling you with what they say or by body language that what you have to say, what you feel, what you do is unimportant.
No matter what the people who have surrounded you your whole life have been saying and doing to point out how worthless you are, they do not KNOW you.
It does not matter that your father does not see your worth, or that your sisters don’t, or anyone else.
What matters is that you see and fully realize your own deep worth.
What matters is that you break free from the confining viewpoints of others and realize your full potential to be ALIVE in this life.
The beautiful inner light portrait drawings and paintings I create help you see yourself in a whole new, radiantly vibrant light - the light that shines from within your own heart and spirit. This is the light that sparks in your eyes and flushes your cheeks with a healthy happy blush. This is the light from which your deep inner power and inherent worth come.
Allow me to show you in pencil and oil paint how worthy you are of being truly SEEN.