By Maria Lebron, August 2020
Self-worth is the belief that you deserve respect, are of value, and are worthy of being loved. In order for a person to believe they are worthy, they would have had to experience unconditional respect and acceptance in their early and teenage years. A person must feel accepted and valued for who they are, not for who they are expected to be. Another way to experience a healthy sense of self-worth is through early experiences of competence and success. However, these achievements should not solely determine the person’s value. A person must feel they can take calculated risks and still be worthy if the outcome is not successful.
Self-worth which is measured by something which can be taken away or lost can cause deep insecurities and anxieties if the person doesn’t have a strong sense of their own self-worth. Self-worth which is tied to one’s appearance, social standing, income, or career may cause someone to no longer feel valued or worthy if their self-worth is solely defined by who they are in relation to these things. Things which determine a person’s self-worth which reside inside the person are compassion, empathy, respect for others, concern, integrity, honesty, fairness, etc.
A person’s self-worth can sometimes be measured by someone whom we are in a relationship with. If we have love and respect for ourselves, we will attract that in our relationships. However, if we are in a relationship where the person makes us feel inferior or unworthy, and this is something we believe about ourselves, we may not believe that we are worthy of being treated differently. Also, if a person’s self-worth is based on someone finding you worthy and that person is lost through a breakup, divorce, or death, it may mean that a sense of worth will need to be rebuilt.
How Can You Build Your Self-Worth?
Self-worth is what makes us believe we are capable of doing the best we can with our abilities and talents, of being a contributing member of society, of feeling we are making a difference to those close to us, and believing we deserve to lead a fulfilling life. The following are steps you can take to build self-worth:
— Know yourself. Understand who you are and what you want in your life. What life experiences have defined you? What challenges and obstacles have you overcome? What brings you happiness, satisfaction, and passion? What are your best characteristics and abilities?
— Understand where you struggle and what areas you need to improve or change. What are your fears and concerns? What situations cause you to have low self-esteem? What negative patterns do you notice?
— Avoid all-or-nothing thinking where you see things as either all good or all bad. All-or-nothing thinking can cause you to not be able to see that people and things can exist on a spectrum.
— Learn to accept compliments without feeling the need to point out your faults or minimize the compliment.
— Develop the confidence to be able to listen to and trust your own feelings.
— Understand that you have the power to respond to what happens to you based on your resources, strengths, abilities, and learned life experiences.
— Avoid putting unreasonable demands on yourself. Avoid perfectionism. Both of these can lead to feelings of failure under unreasonable expectations.
— Try not to compare yourself with others if that leads to negative beliefs about yourself, especially when one can present a very limited representation on social media. You may want something for yourself that someone has achieved, but use that as motivation to try to achieve something similar for yourself.
— Spend time with people who make you happy.
— Acknowledge that you will continue to grow into the person you want to be and work towards building the life that will increase your self-worth.
— Seek professional help from a therapist to help you overcome obstacles to building self-worth and acceptance.