What is Self-Worth?
Self-worth is how you view your own value as a person. Do you think you’re valuable as a human being? Do you value yourself as a person separate from how much money you make? Do you respect yourself as a person separate from how others view you? Having a healthy sense of self-worth means holding a high level of integrity and regard for yourself. It’s about how you contribute to others, society, and relationships.
How Does It Differ from Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence?
Self-worth determines how much you give to yourself because you believe you deserve it. When you have a healthy sense of self-worth, you believe you deserve good things. You accept who you are and have patience for yourself. If you don’t have some percentage of self-worth, it makes it difficult to give yourself love, respect, and compassion and to further act with integrity.
Self-esteem is self-love. How much do you care about and respect yourself? What aspects of yourself do you like?
Self-confidence is believing you have the capability to do something or ability to learn something new. You put yourself out there and take healthy risks. It’s also about trusting yourself.
All of these are a collection that come together. Sometimes self-confidence can be a little weaker than self-esteem and vice versa. They don’t have to always be equal and can shift, but if you neglect them, your sense of self-worth can be jeopardized.
External vs. Internal Validation
Society teaches us that financial success, fancy titles, expensive cars, large houses, etc. (rewards) leads to having a high sense of self-worth, which isn’t true. These misconceptions often hurt people’s ability to rely on themselves intrinsically for building their own self-worth.
External validation means you seek self-worth from others – social approval, status, wealth, and rewards. External validation is tangible and offers instant gratification, so it can feel more rewarding and more significant than internal validation, but it doesn’t last as long. It drives people to make more, buy more things, climb the corporate ladder, and keep seeking for more gratification rather than being content. Tangible, measurable things come fast and easy, but are also easy to lose. If you get laid off, have unexpected injury or illness, or any other unexpected wrench thrown in your life plan, you can lose all of the rewards you relied on for your sense of self-worth. But we don’t live in a social vacuum, so we can all benefit from some external validation and sometimes it can be healthy in moderate amounts. We are social beings – some external validation feels good. If you live in a world where you never receive external validation, praise, or positive feedback, it can feel discouraging and can jeopardize your ability to strengthen your own internal self-worth. But if all you get and rely on is this external validation, it can still be easily taken away and then you’ll be faced with having to learn how to rely on yourself later on in your life which can pose as a challenging task. There needs to be a balance of both internal and external validation with a stronger piece of your self-worth stemming from the internal validation you create.
Internal validation comes from a development of your own self-confidence, self-esteem, self-love, self-compassion, and self respect as a whole to build on your self-worth. Internal validation is gradual and takes time and patience, so it can be difficult to develop. But internal validation lasts longer, and although it’s harder to grasp and less tangible than external validation, it’s all that you actually have to rely on. No matter what happens to you in life, you can always rely on yourself as this will remain the one constant we all have.
How to Develop Self-Worth
Avoid social comparisons. When you compare yourself to others, especially things like how big your house is, what kind of car you drive, how much money you make, etc., it can damage your self-worth.
Practice radical acceptance. Recognize your own contribution to yourself, others, and society. What about you, not what you have, do you like and respect? Honor your contributions and be realistic about what’s outside of your control (rewards).
Move away from the perfectionist mindset. Set your expectations for yourself so that they are realistic and be proud of what you have accomplished.
Know your values and core beliefs. Take time to reflect on your values and what is actually important to you, not what society or other people tell you are important. Do things that nurture and prioritize your values. If you engage in things and make decisions that are true to your values, morals, and ethics, it feeds into internal validation.
Set boundaries for yourself. Be consistent and stick with them. Respect your time and don’t let other people overstep your boundaries. Spend more time with the people who nurture your values and respect your boundaries. Read more on how to set healthy boundaries.
Have healthy, positive relationships. People who help build your sense of self-worth will nurture what’s already meaningful to you internally. You’re not looking for their approval, but they are supportive of you looking inward, not questioning or judging you, and give you the space and platform to be yourself. They will help you feel confident so you can learn to respect yourself for who you are. If you spend time with other people who value external validation, status, and wealth, it takes away from your ability to rely on your inner self to build self-worth.
Expose yourself to a positive environment. What are you consuming from the world? Your environment, company, media, etc. can either help build or damage your self-worth.
Be mindful of your self narrative. How do you talk about yourself? What language do you use? Is it respectful or not? Does it align with your values and priorities? How do you treat yourself? Give yourself praise for the work and effort you put in to hold yourself with integrity.
“I know that I’m being honest. I’m exercising these values. I act with integrity. Even if someone doesn’t agree with me, I’m confident with the decision I made. I like how I look and act and present myself with respect.”
Treat your body with respect. How do you treat your body? Are you doing things that respect or harm your body? If your body is failing you as a result of your actions, it makes it harder to have self-compassion and self-love. Develop the mind-body-spirit connection.
Know that enough is enough. The idea of enough isn’t valued by the greater society, so of course people’s self worth is diminished when they aren’t wealthy or of high status. If you’re enjoying your work and the money is comfortable, that is enough. If you hate your job but make a lot of money (reward), it doesn’t lead to happiness. Satisfaction and contentment comes from internal validation.
Therapy Can Help Build Self-Worth
There’s a misconception that going to therapy means there’s something wrong with you. But you don’t have to have a diagnosis or “be crazy” to go to therapy. The point of therapy is to help you accept who you are and achieve your goals. Dr. Heather Violante can help you learn to rely on internal validation and build self-worth. If you live in Florida or New York, contact Dr. Heather Violante online or call (754) 333-1484 to learn more.