In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself”.
Since childhood, every experience, interaction, environment, situation and person we encounter, leaves a deep impact on our self-worth. Often in the quest to be better we are left with the feeling of not being ‘good enough’.
Self-worth is the sense that we deserve to be loved and cared for; to be alive. This is not the same as self-esteem as that is more to do with the things that we believe we can achieve, our strengths, values, stamina, accomplishments, skills, position, etc. In contrast, self-worth is different from our strengths and accomplishments. It is more about our sense of deserving to be alive with love & joy.
Self-esteem depends on how we feel about ourselves which keeps changing. However, self-worth does not change, no matter how we feel as it is a direct measure of how we value and regard ourselves.
Mostly we aren’t clear about this difference and unknowingly we link our self-worth to our possessions & achievements and hence, as soon as we experience a loss or failure in any aspect of life, we experience low self-worth and begin to question our worthiness to be loved, cared for or to even be alive.
Let’s understand this better.
What prompts us to feel unworthy?
When we fail to do what is expected out of us by the family, friends, community and society, we lose their approval and this gets us to experience rejection & unworthiness. Most of the assessments made of us are made silently, unknowingly and unconsciously.
Some factors are as follows –
- Constant comparison on looks, status, choices, position, achievements, etc. destroys our confidence.
- Our educational system assesses us based on standard grades & scores, thereby destroying our individuality.
- The need for love and appreciation from our parents for all our achievements pushes us to achieve ‘more’, sometimes at the cost of our personal choice.
- The ads on TV and social media tell us how we need to spend more money and change in order to be successful, loved and acceptable.
- The number of likes and followers on our social media pages and handles is the new parameter to measure our worthiness.
These and many more factors add to the pressure and are responsible for low self-worth in most individuals.
Low self-worth can impact one’s confidence and can also lead to self-criticism wherein one is either finding excuses to not do what needs to be done or is constantly blaming self (or others) for something or the other. When we indulge in these, we are unable to stick to a plan, to focus, to take calculated risks, to commit or to even act.
In the long run, low self-worth begins to impact our relationships with others as well.
How can we build self-worth?
Get to know self at a deeper level. Ask yourself, “Who am I?, Who am I not?, How do others see me?, What brings me joy?, Where do I struggle most?, What habitual emotions hurt me?, What abilities and skills do I have?, etc. These questions will help you understand yourself in a profound way, thereby laying down a strong foundation for self-worth.
Accept everything about you – your looks, your style, your body, your way of doing things, the works! The constant need to change self (which is stemming from lack and not self-love) makes us feel that there is something wrong with us and so we refuse to accept ourselves the way we are. Focus on the things you like about yourself. You are worthy the way you are.
Forgive yourself for all your past mistakes and drop all the judgments and excuses. Accept yourself with all the flaws or limitations – be authentic and real! Forgive yourself as well as others for letting the outside forces define you. Embrace self.
Connect with people who are supportive. Don’t just crave for attention or appreciation from people for temporary boost to self-esteem. Build connections with self, with people; have meaningful conversations, see people and things for what they are and enjoy these connections.
Be in the driver’s seat of your life. Be courageous to free yourself from rules that bog you down and instead work towards being you. Understand yourself, accept yourself, love yourself, take responsibility for your life and use your personal power to decide & to act. Don’t get swayed by external chaos & mess. Drop the judgments, limitations, assumptions, conclusions and excuses. Trust yourself and hold your power; you are worth it!
Remember to cultivate self-worth and not wait for a certain someone to come and love you for you to finally feel worthy.
Feel worthy because you are!
Are you willing to be worthy?