Why is Self-Worth Important and What is it?

Sign post to self-worth

All success in life starts with accepting our worth. Unknown

Self-Worth vs. Self-Esteem

Self-worth and self-esteem are two related terms that are often used interchangeably. Having a sense of self-esteem means that you feel good about yourself and having a sense of self-worth means that you know you are worthy. The differences between the two are slight but important enough to understand the difference.

Self-worth is an internal state of being that stems from self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love.

What we think and feel about ourselves is what we call self-esteem. What happens, though, when we don't think or feel good about ourselves? What happens if we don't live up to our expectations? This is where one's sense of self-worth comes into play. Recognizing that "I am good" is a sign of self-worth. It's a deep knowing that I'm valuable, that I'm loved, that I'm needed in this life, and that I'm of immense worth. It's possible to have "high self-esteem" while always doubting my ability to love and be loved. Without self-worth, self-esteem doesn't last or "operate."

What happens when we put all of our worth in the outcome of a situation? What happens when such "good" things deteriorate or fall apart? If we don't have a high sense of worth, our esteem crumbles with it.

If, on the other hand, I know that I am valuable no matter what I think, feel, or do, then whether I "succeed" or "fail," the core knowledge remains constant. Even if I am hurting from defeat, I know I am important, capable, and "good" if I have self-worth. That is why, rather than focusing on growing our "self-esteem," we should focus on understanding our value.

While the terms "self-worth" and "self-esteem" are often interchanged, Dr. Lisa Firestone argues that self-worth is more about valuing your intrinsic worth as an individual than judging yourself based on external behavior. To put it another way, self-worth is determined by who you are rather than what you do.

Without self-worth, self-esteem is shallow and weak.

How Does Self-Worth Develop?

Our ability to make favorable judgments about ourselves is rooted in our childhood.

Your parents' love and concern for your needs are the foundations of your self-worth. They demonstrate that you are deserving of love and that you are a good person.

At about 2-3 years old, our brains acquire the ability to consider other people's viewpoints (both visually and mentally). The medial prefrontal cortex starts to develop during this time. Self-reflection, individual awareness, and theory of mind are all aided by the medial prefrontal cortex. As a result, the medial prefrontal cortex plays an essential role in knowing oneself and others.

When a person is asked to make context-independent decisions about themselves, a part of the brain is triggered. The sentence "I am smart" is an example of this. This point is unaffected by your grades or the number of books you've read. This is simply a declaration of your self-worth.

Unfortunately, we might have adopted views about ourselves as young, helpless children if our parents were not psychologically or emotionally mature. These beliefs may have helped to undermine our fundamental sense of self-worth.

At the root of low self-worth is fear and a fundamental misconception of who we are.

When you've been abused, you've been told too many times that you're "not of value." It isn't easy to overcome a lifetime of being bombarded with that message. However, I also believe that discovering your true value is possible. Your worth isn't determined by how others treat you. It's not dependent on what they think about you, what they say about you, or what they do. You are incredibly valuable. You may not be aware of it right now, but you are. And the first step in finding it for yourself is to consider the possibility. "What if I am precious?" you may wonder. What if I could believe that I am important, lovable, and good?" It's not easy, but don't let someone who hasn't reached their full potential stop you from reaching yours.

The Importance of High Self-Worth

According to recent research, basing one's self-worth on external factors can be detrimental to one's mental health. Students who base their self-worth on external sources (such as academic success, appearance, and acceptance from others) reported more stress, frustration, academic problems, and relationship disputes, according to a University of Michigan study. They also showed further signs of eating disorders and higher levels of alcohol and drug use. According to the same report, students who focused their self-worth on internal sources not only felt better, but also got better grades and were less likely to use drugs and alcohol or develop eating disorders.

It's as if the ground underneath you has been snatched away when you lack self-worth.

You can feel vulnerable, insecure, and have an underlying sense of anxiety that overshadows you.

It's like becoming a tree without roots if you don't have self-worth.

You flounder, bend, and fall as the winds of life blow in the form of individuals, relationships, and difficult circumstances.

You feel demoralized, debilitated, and insubstantial no matter where you go or what you do.

Do You Have Low Self-Worth?

Low self-worth stems from unresolved past experiences and emotions.

Instead of a thought, it's a belief. Those past experiences led to negative beliefs about ourselves and the world.

If there was one emotion that drives low self-worth, it is shame. We are ashamed of who we are and what we have been through.

Common red flags of low self-worth are:

• difficulty with intimacy and relationships

• defensiveness and blaming others

• a lack of life purpose

• poor personal boundaries

• treading water with your career

• addictions – alcohol abuse, party drugs, overeating

• eating disorders

• secret self-harm

• suicidal thinking

• victim mentality

• anxiety and depression.

• constant self-doubt

• you're cynical about the value of what you do

• you struggle to believe that anyone could love you

• you can't accept compliments without feeling embarrassed/skeptical

• you always put other's needs above your own

• you settle for less in relationships and jobs thinking it's 'the best you can do.'

• you value other people's opinions above your own

• you always feel a sense of anxiety and tension around others

• you are scared of sharing your authentic self with the world

• you struggle to speak up and be assertive about your needs

• you don't know what your actual needs are

Low self-worth has deep roots and digging them up takes time and effort. To move forward, it's best to seek help. A licensed counselor or psychotherapist provides a supportive environment in which you can work on the issues causing your low self-worth. He or she will also assist you in incorporating new ways of relating and being that will gradually but steadily improve your self-esteem.

Do you have high self-worth? Let me know what you think in the comments below.


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