Self worth is essentially our ability to believe in ourselves. When we have a healthy sense of self Worth we are confident that we can use our skills, experience and knowledge to the best of our abilities. We believe that we are an important part of society and able to make a valuable contribution. Having a well developed sense of self worth is critical if we are to leave fulfilling lives and reach our full potential.
As infants we all have a well developed sense of self worth. However over time experiences, setbacks and negativity often create a diminished sense of self worth. This limits not only our only ability to lead a complete and happy life; it also denies society as a whole the contribution that we may be able to make. A person who has a limited sense of self worth will not feel capable of providing value to others and so unfortunately chooses not to do so.
Recognizing your own self worth
One of the reasons that people deny there own self worth is due to social conditioning. Society has many metaphors that explain the dangers of feeling too highly about yourself. From the myth of Icarus, to sayings such as “Tall poppies get cut down” or “The nail that sticks out gets hammered in” we receive the message that feeling good about oneself is dangerous. People who are too confident in their abilities are portrayed in the media as egotistical or conceited.
There is a misunderstanding of what a healthy sense of self worth is. A person who is egotistical or arrogant is typically acting in self deceptive way in order to mask their own insecurities. A person with a real positive self worth will understand their own abilities, knowledge and talents. They will be confident and won’t attempt to lessen themselves either externally or internally.
Making the change to a positive self worth
People with a limited sense of self worth have typically been undermining themselves for many years. This may have been reinforced by those closest to them including family, friends or other peer groups. Making the change to a positive sense of self worth can therefore take some time and effort. It is usually not simply a case of deciding to “Love Oneself” although this is the first step that you must take.
Treating yourself like someone you love
One of the best ways to think about creating a positive sense of self worth is to start treating yourself the same way as you would a best friend or a loved family member. Ideally with a friend or family member you treat them with respect, kindness and acknowledge and encourage their value. For example if you had a child you would want them to do their best and to reach their full potential. This might include talking to them positively, recognizing their achievements and helping them when they encounter a setback. Unfortunately this is not the way many people treat themselves. Instead they will punish themselves if they have a setback, fail to fully recognize what they have already achieved and engage in a lot of negative self talk.
Start making your own choices
One of the most common traits of people who suffer from a low sense of self worth is that they let other people make choices for them. This includes allowing other people to decide the way that they view themselves or even the practical day to day decisions of how to live their lives. When we do not view ourselves as in control of our own lives we often suffer lower self worth as a result. The limits of what you can achieve and contribute are defined by whatever this other persons decides for you. Your sense of self worth can suffer an even bigger blow if this person leaves you. Because you do not trust your own abilities you are left feeling indecisive and incredibly alone.
Don’t allow your sense of self worth to be conditional
Many peoples sense of self worth is conditional on external events and people. A common mistake that people often make is to live their lives in order to meet the expectations set by their parents, spouse, friends or society as a whole. If they feel that have failed to meet these expectations then their self worth suffers. Your own self worth should not be conditional on the approval of another person or group. You will have your own preferences and unique talents and you should not allow someone else define for you what they will be.
By developing a healthy sense of self worth we are able to achieve our full potential and live a life where we are happy with ourselves. Picture your self worth as a box inside which you stand. The edges of this box define what we are capable of achieving and contributing. When we have a limited self worth the edges of the box are close and allow us little space. But as we expand our self worth the edges move out and we can realize our full potential. Remember that we are all born with a healthy sense of self worth and with work we can regain it as well.