Jada Pinkett Smith Shows Us How to Stay Connected to Our Self-Worth—No Matter What Anyone Else Says
In the weeks after Jada Pinkett Smith’s new book, Worthy, was released, the actor was at the center of a media storm. There was blowback about Pinkett Smith’s admission that she and husband Will Smith had been living separate lives for years. There was endless commentary about other revelations in her book—about Will, Tupac, the infamous Oscars slap—and everyone seemed to have an opinion.
Yet Pinkett Smith stayed steady despite the pile-on. How?
The answer lies in the journey she details in her deeply personal memoir, in which she talks about everything from her rebellious childhood and years spent trying to make it in Hollywood to her mental health struggles and marriage to Will Smith.
When The Sunday Paper sat down with Pinkett Smith, one thing was clear: This is a woman who is on a mission to stay connected to her own self-worth and worthiness, no matter what anyone else thinks of her. Here’s our conversation.
A CONVERSATION WITH JADA PINKETT SMITH
In your new memoir, you write: “One of the biggest lessons I have learned, which is the main reason I wrote this book, is how important it is to share our journeys to self-worth.” How can sharing these journeys help both ourselves and others?
Sadly, I think a woman's authentic journey is considered taboo. As women, we are supposed to be put together. Really digging in the mud is still considered very taboo. And I think a lot of us have shame around sharing how we got through the complicated moments in our journeys, even though our stories are universal. We’re not living unique experiences—but we're left to feel that our stories are unique because we don't share them.
I've been through the gauntlet. There's nothing else anybody can say about me, right? With this book, I felt like I needed to have the courage to put it out there and help women be seen in areas that they may not feel like they've been seen before. Because I know that when I feel seen, that is oxygen. It's such deep nourishment.
What is the first step a woman can take if she wants to go on her own Heroine’s Journey and discover her own magic, power, and self-love?
Reconcile self-judgment. Too many of us are always so afraid of how people are going to see us and feel about us. And that often brings up how we feel about ourselves. So, the first thing to do is really look at what I call the exiled lands—really go into those places that you very rarely look at because it brings up guilt, shame, or whatever might be lingering there.
Then ask yourself, Am I really ready to do that? And if you're ready to do it, go for it.
You write about your childhood—the good, the bad, the beautiful, the challenging. What would you say to someone struggling to make sense of their past? Why should we “choose to follow muddy footprints back to your origins” as you put it in your book?
It's such a worthy endeavor. My mother and I experienced so much healing when we went back to my grandmother's history, which led us to my great grandmother's history. Looking at the generational patterns on paper—my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, myself—was mind blowing. Doing this self-discovery together, going through our history, brought us closer together.
You call your kids little gurus. How have they helped you change your relationship with yourself?
I think the child-mother dynamic is one of the most unconditional love dynamics on the planet. That particular relationship has the most openness—maybe not always, but I do believe it can offer incredible insights. In their innocence and insightfulness, my kids have been able to show me things about myself. They have been a mirror for me in a way that I couldn't have been for myself. They’ve shown me certain beautiful parts of myself. They taught me—and are still teaching me—how to love.
How have you learned to know your worth, your value, and your impact in this world and claim it for yourself?
It’s so easy to abandon ourselves and to forget our self-worth. We’re constantly told what we’re supposed to be, and how we’re supposed to be. We give away our power. And if a woman steps into her power? She’s selfish, right?
I’m still learning how not to abandon myself, because it’s been instilled in me for so many years. Every day I work on the idea of loving myself while also learning to love others. Learning how to love myself first is not selfish. It’s how we learn to others authentically. But this takes a lot of re-educating, and it’s a process—especially for women. Because every day, we’re still being bombarded with the messaging that loving ourselves isn’t valued. What’s valued is how we love others. Going up against that status quo is a hard one.
A theme in your book is the wise advice that the only way out is the way through. What words of support or wisdom would you share with someone who’s really in it, whatever it is, trying to make her way through?
Don't have resistance to the discomfort.
I know that is so hard. But the difficult times in our lives are inevitable. When we look for a way out of them, that’s usually when we dig ourselves into a deeper hole. If we can breathe through those difficult times, try to relax a little and not resist, the answer will come.
Timing is everything, and everything's not meant to be reconciled right now. Just because you're uncomfortable doesn’t mean it's time to figure out how to get out of it. It means that something is calling you to look at what’s difficult. And in your acceptance of the discomfort, there’s a good chance the answer will rise and you will see what it is. Then you can make a decision on how to deal with it.
The discomfort is often when the lessons come. It’s when you get aha moments. It’s when you realize things aren't happening to you, they're happening for you.