Everyone is born knowing their self-worth; as life moves on, the comments, expectations, and attitudes of other people can wear down this natural sense of self-worth. Self-worth is what enables us to believe that we are capable of doing our best with our talents, of contributing well in society, and that we deserve to lead a fulfilling life. Building it up again is therefore natural, essential, and healthy.
The dictionary defines self-worth as “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.” However, there are many ways for a person to value themselves and assess their worth as a human being, and some of these are more psychologically beneficial than others.
Although, some school of thought believes that self-worth should be less about measuring yourself based on external actions and more about valuing your inherent worth as a person. In other words, self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do.
The society we find ourselves focus more on high self-esteem. The problem is that this focus involves measuring oneself against others, rather than paying attention to one’s intrinsic value. “Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special and above average to feel good about ourselves, but that is unachievable. In this sense, searching for self-worth by constantly comparing ourselves to others means to always do what is unachievable because there is always someone richer, more attractive, or successful than we are. And even when we do manage to feel self-esteem for one golden moment, we can’t hold on to it. Our sense of self-worth rises and falls in lock-step with our latest success or failure.”
Self-worth comes from within, you won’t find it by having more money, having more friends, having a fancy car or a big house. It is something intrinsic and something we can’t gain extrinsically, meaning we won’t find self-worth from external factors. Having self-worth comes from within and can easily be harnessed by:
Building self-worth is to stop comparing yourself to others and evaluating your every move; in other words, you need to challenge your critical inner voice. The acute inner voice is like a nagging mother in our heads that constantly nags us with destructive thoughts towards ourselves or others. This internalized dialogue of critical thoughts or “inner voices” undermines our sense of self-worth and even leads to self-destruction, which make us feel even worse about ourselves.
However, we can challenge this inner voice and begin to see ourselves for who we really are, rather than taking on its negative point of view about ourselves. We can differentiate from the ways we were seen in our family of origin and begin to understand and appreciate our own feelings, thoughts, desires and values by:
- Doing something for yourself every day.
- Writing down 7 minor goals for the week and tick one off each day as you achieve it.
- Saying no! Learn the skill of saying no without offending the person asking.
- Walking tall and proud. Walk as if you’ve got somewhere to go and you need to be there now, never run just walk tall and quickly.
- Dressing as smart as you can for each occasion, whether it be work, meeting a friend, or going for an interview. Take pride in your appearance.
- Not being afraid to accept help from other people, it means they respect you enough to help you with something.
- Learning a new skill or take up something you’ve always wanted to and stick with it.
- Never leting anyone force you to break your core values.
- Speaking up for yourself in every area of your life, this might be hard to do at first but the first time you do it will be immense and if you carry on your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth will soar.
- Reading a book a month. Reading a book is actually an achievement in this technology and media driven world and reading a full book is a great way to achieve a sense of accomplishment.
- Singing at the top of your voice, not outside but in the house and really give it loads (I love singing Intentional’ by Travis Greene and I’ll Be There by Mariah Carey at the top of my voice, ah! such a good feeling.)
- Forgiving yourself! (You know what I mean)
- Getting rid of the people who are dragging you down (I don’t mean kill them, I mean just stop having them in your life.)
- Working on your strengths. A lot of people focus on building up their weaknesses, instead get better at what you are good at.
- Listening to other people and what they are saying.
- Stop the gossiping!
- Always, Always, Always be honest with yourself and others. There is no need for lies and the energy it takes to continue a lie is unbelievable.
- Taking a chance and take a risk or two. You don’t have long to live so just get up and do it.
- Listening to your self-talk and slap the little person criticising you, I mean it, imagine there are two people one on each shoulder, the one who criticises you give them a slap or a punch in the mouth and start to pay attention to the one who is praising you.
- Start changing your thinking to be more optimistic about yourself, instead of ‘…I can’t do that….’ say ‘…I’ve never tried it, but I’ll give it a go…’
- Facing your fears. Nothing will send your self-worth soaring more so than facing your fears and eventually conquering them.
- Writing down something you feel proud about, either on the day or in the past at the end of each day before falling asleep.
Although real accomplishments are important to acknowledge as you build your sense of self, your self-worth should also take in to account the unique qualities that make you you. As mindfulness expert, Dr. Donna Rockwell points out, we are all unique and that, in and of itself, gives each of us inherent value. According to Dr. Firestone, “We shouldn’t be rating ourselves, we should just be ourselves.”