Although I have not had a child of my own, I’ve heard many recollections of the first moment holding a newborn baby and the immense amount of love the parent feels for their child instantly. The baby didn’t need to do anything but exist and they are loved. As we grow up we begin to lose that sort of love for ourselves. We get caught up in the race of life that makes us believe  we have to achieve and succeed to have worth and value. This lack of self-worth can carry high costs as we move forward in life. 

Self-worth, as defined by The Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “a feeling that you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.” Self-esteem is defined as, “a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities.” Although these definitions are similar, in my opinion, there is a difference between self-worth and self-esteem. Often times it seems that self-esteem comes from esteeming yourself on external accomplishments.

I think self-worth is one step more intimate to the self. It is finding worth within you. 

This worth doesn’t come basedon abilities or achievements, but is there because you exist. I had the opportunity to work at Anasazi in Arizona, which is a wilderness therapy program, and their mission statement is “within every person is a seed of greatness.” My understanding of this is that there is greatness and worth within every single person.  The question is, how do you recognize self-worth in yourself?

There are many ways that people can find self-worth, so this isn’t an exhaustive list of guaranteed tips and tricks. I think that discovering self-worth is a lifelong pursuit, but what better time to start than now? The two ways that I’m going to elaborate on to gaining self-worth are: “believing is achieving” and “the inner critic.”

Believing is Achieving

What would your life be like if you had self-worth? What would you do differently? How would you feel about yourself? These questions can be helpful in envisioning what life would be like with increased self-worth. For myself, answers include, I would go after dreams that scare me. I would be okay with myself if I failed at something I wanted. I would be assertive. These are just a few examples, but it helps me understand why self-worth is important to work on. Envisioning what life would be like with increased self-worth, can lead you to believing that you can make adjustments within yourself to achieve this.

The Inner Critic

That voice inside our heads that constantly judges us is definitely not helping in developing self-worth. This voice can be hard to change because it is the way we have talked to ourselves for years and years. But it can be helpful to take some time to reflect on what you tell yourself on a daily basis. Is what you’re telling yourself helping you improve? Or is it inhibiting you from where you want to be? If it is inhibiting you, why would you keep listening to it? The way to combat the inner critic is to develop self-compassion. Self-compassion simplified is acknowledging that you’re human and that being perfect isn’t obtainable, which allows room for mistakes without judgment. This helps us shift self-worth away from accomplishments.

Increasing self-worth is a lifelong pursuit. It is important to be patient with yourself. Self-worth isn’t going to go from zero to 100 in a few weeks because it is a mindset change and that takes time.  I have seen areas of my life improve as I have focused on increasing my self-worth and I hope that you will feel those improvements as well, because you’re worth it!