We all make mistakes when it comes to our own self-worth. I have been thinking about self-worth and the effect that it has on our ability to practice self-care. There is more to avoiding self-care because we are too busy, I think that in many cases we feel we don’t deserve it. This often comes down to our self-worth. Imagine for a minute you want a new job, or you are in a position of leadership, you are building a business or returning to work after having kids…you want to go for it but deep down you’re not sure if you deserve to be happy. How would that affect your next move?
Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy. – Wayne Dyer
What is self-worth?
I would like to address the difference between self-worth and self-esteem to begin with. So self-esteem is what we think, feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing that you are more than what you perceive about yourself – it is a deeper understanding that you are of value, that you are loveable, that you are necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.
It is true that you might feel self-esteem e.g. that you think/feel you are good at something but at the same time not feel convinced that you are loveable and worthy. Self-worth is influenced by what we think others think/feel about us, how we interact in relationships (professional and personal) as well as how we feel about ourselves.
This is important because although it’s great to feel good about ourselves, what happens when we don’t? Do we become unloveable or lose our value because we can’t do something or we make a mistake? Absolutely not. Yet many people believe that to be true, at least on some level. We so often buy into the lie that my “self” is based on those good thoughts or feelings and this is the problem. Rather than trying so hard to just “feel good” about ourselves, isn’t it better to actually know our “self” is good? That’s what self-worth is: a deep knowing.
The problem with building self-esteem
When we focus on building self-esteem, we work on being better at this or that—at losing weight, becoming healthier, thinking more positively, developing healthy personality traits. And all of these things are good. But what happens when we place our entire value in them? If we fall off the wagon and have a ‘bad day’? We crumble and our self-value crumbles with it. However, even though you might feel the pain of failure, if you have a stable sense of self-worth, you still know you are valuable, capable, and “good”.
People measure their self-worth in different ways, and this is where we make mistakes without realising it:
5 ways self-worth mistakes we make:
- How we look – so often we are told we need to look a certain way and, that if we don’t, we are not worthy or valuable. So we diet, exercise, dress in a certain way. If and when we fall off the wagon or find we don’t want to dress that way it can feel catastrophic if your self-worth depends on your appearance.
- What we earn – if you measure your self-worth by what you earn or how by your material possessions you may never feel valuable enough. You may try and feel ‘good enough’ by living beyond your means, finding yourself in debt. However, whilst goods and services have monetary value, they don’t reflect your value as a human being
- Your relationships – have you ever heard the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? There are so many ways to depend on others for our own value – from name dropping in a conversation to only feeling worthy in a relationship to surrounding yourself with ‘important’ people. The issue here is that depending on other people to make you feel good is like chasing a moving target. You can’t control what other people think of you, and you certainly can’t please everyone all the time. You’ll never be able to receive enough praise and positive reinforcement to genuinely feel good about yourself.
- What you do – what is the first question most people ask when they first meet someone? ‘What do you do?’ Right? Careers can help people feel worthwhile. In fact, many people introduce themselves by saying what they do: “I’m a coach,” or “I’m a teacher.” Their job isn’t what they do — it’s who they are. Their career reinforces to them that they’re “somebody.” But basing your self-worth on your job title is a big risk. An economic downturn, unexpected shift in the job market, or a major health problem can put an end to your career and lead to a major identity crisis. Even a planned retirement may destroy your self-worth if your identity is tied to your job title. If you’ve always measured your self-worth by what you do, you may not feel good about yourself when your career ends.
- What you achieve – whether you boast about your latest achievement or you beat yourself up over a mistake you made which is (seemingly) stopping you moving forward, basing your entire self-worth on your achievement is like building a house on an unsteady foundation. You’ll need to experience constant success to feel good about yourself — and that means you’ll likely avoid doing things where you could fail.
How do you measure self-worth then?
I would recommend measuring self-worth by who you are i.e. by your values. This way you incorporate your self-esteem and have that deep knowing that no matter what happens you are ‘good’ person. Which incidentally I believe is true for (almost) everyone. Measuring in this way allows you to experience a more peaceful life, one with meaning and purpose.
How self-care can increase your self-worth
Self-care and self-worth are related. When you avoid things that make you feel mentally and physically well, you deplete your self-worth. Self-care is imperative in maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself and others. It produces positive feelings, which builds self-love, self-confidence and self-esteem and of course self-worth. So if you haven’t already, check out #selfcareseptember and find ideas and ways to increase your self-care and build your self-worth.