Okay, but some key questions about self-worth…..
- What exactly is it?
- How do you know you have it?
- How can you tell when you don’t?
- What can you do to cultivate it?
Our current model of understanding self-worth according to PositivePsychologyProgram.com goes a little something like this…
The Self-Worth Theory is a theory of motivation; it posits that an individual’s main priority in life is to find self-acceptance and that self-acceptance is often found through achievement (Covington & Beery, 1976). In turn, the achievement is often found through competition with others. Thus, the logic follows that competing with others can help us feel that we have impressive achievements under our belt, which then makes us feel proud of ourselves and enhances our acceptance of ourselves.
The theory holds that there are four main elements of the self-worth model:
While the claim that self-acceptance is a main priority for the individual holds, this Theory of Self Worth actually, more likely contributes just as much to a lack of self-worth as it does to build it. Additionally, it puts people at odds, placing value limitations on one another, which inherently limits one’s own ability to find value in themselves. When we see others as “the competition” we can only see ourselves as “the competitor” which is a small box to be put in.
Moreover many people today are unnecessarily hard on themselves, comparing themselves to images of super-models, billionaire 30-year-olds, and pro-athletes they see all over the media. While these images for some can be highly motivating, for vastly more they are highly destructive to the individual’s self-worth, as all the emphasis and value is placed on being “like others” rather than being like ourselves.
If we are always trying to be like other people, we are rejecting ourselves.
And the root of self-worth is self-acceptance.
So why does self-worth even matter?
Well, at its most fundamental level, self-worth is a way of determining value. And value determinations are essential to every decision made. Each time we consider our options, we are always optimizing for the highest value (that is the greatest payoff for the least amount of input).
You can think about it like this…Value = Benefit — Cost. You can see here that if one part of this equation were to go missing, it would throw the entire formula off. This can result in the disorienting feeling of not knowing “what to do,” because the information is missing.
Allied to our lives, if we do not have an understanding of our own value, we can often wind up “paying too much” either with our time or our energy for “less benefit” than we actually need or desire, which can contribute to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and depression.
Having a sense of self-worth, allows you to establish yourself in the world in a way that feels good and nourishes you, while also making your experience more consistent and less dependent on the circumstances.
When you have self-worth, it is like having tree roots that keep you grounded when the storms are passing through and can give you the perspective to stay connected to yourself through anything.
So, self-worth is acceptance.
One day we wake up and realize, that we can and never will be anyone other than who we are, and in fact, no one can ever be us either. We are unique and irreplaceable.
When viewed through this lens we realize just how precious and special we really are. We are rarer than the most flawless gemstone because while there are hundreds of them out there that are carbon copies of each other (pun intended!), there is only one of us.
And this is the fundamental difference between the definitions of Theoretical Psychological and actual self-worth. The model presented in the Theory of Psychology posits that IF we achieve THEN we will have self-worth. Which is unsustainable, inconsistent, and based on factors outside of ourselves (the competition, our competitors, etc.), and it places limitations on our self-perception by putting us and others inboxes.
However, when we realize that we are absolutely unique and special and that the universe would, in fact, be incomplete without our existence we start to realize that we are worthy, for no other reason, other than we are. We are here, we exist, we are worthy.
And this is where self-worth becomes a self-sustaining internal locus of our own value.
So, to understand this a little deeper let’s examine the questions posed at the beginning of this article.
What is self-worth?
- The answer to this question depends on how we define the self. What does our picture of our self consists of and how do we define the self?
- It can include any such things as included in your self-definition, which largely consists of an identity.
- Much of what we view as our “selves” (our identity) is based on such things as our preferences, hobbies, likes, dislikes, friends, achievements, talents, tastes, strengths, weaknesses, etc. These things which we identify with form our picture of who we are. An interesting thing to realize here, however, is that these things merely provide an external reflection of something internal to us.
- Conventional beliefs about self-worth suggest it is something you arrive at based on your achievements, though it is actually not something that you have or gets, BECAUSE of something else. However, these externalities can contribute to creating an environment where self-worth can be realized more fully, for example, self-worth does not come from having a great group of friends, however, having a great group of friends can reflect our own worth and help us practice feeling it.
- Self-worth is commonly delineated as something that one has or has not. Even the questions at the very beginning of this article refer to It in that way. Self-worth however is a state of being, it is a way that you are. Your level of access to that depends on your level of self-acceptance.
- Self-worth is true self-knowledge. It is the natural state of self-understanding and acceptance that arises from acknowledging our own existence.
- Even the opening questions are misleading because it is not a matter of having and have not, it is a matter of recognition. In fact, self-worth is something everyone already has, however may or may not identify with. The challenge here is that we often only identify with that which is outside of ourselves, and of course, this is the case because of those things we can see with our eyes. It is more difficult to see something which is already inside of us, however, our environments provide us cues and reflections for doing such.
- However, it is the unfortunate condition of the mind to often misinterpret those reflections as we receive them, in a way that is not bent towards self-worth, but rather, as is more often the case to self-deprecation, self-judgment, and even to self-sabotage.
- Self-worth is like the foundation of your home. It is what everything is built upon, and the thing that holds everything else up. It is also the thing that remains intact when the storm comes and blows all the rest away.
- It is the constant unchanging knowing, that you exist, and you are worthy.
So how do you know you have it?
- Well, as mentioned above….you exist :)
- There is also a high degree of trust in this simple truth, as well as a leap of faith. However, it is one that when made earnestly, always finds its ends within the means itself. Meaning taking the action and making the choice, to believe in your own value, will wind you up feeling more valued.
- To trust that you have it, already within you, is a statement of belief. It is planting a flag in the ground and saying. “I trust that I have self-worth, I trust that I am worthy”
- In the beginning, this is this belief. Though it may not feel entirely true or a bit flimsy at the start, it may even feel a bit like walking a tightrope, in the beginning, the practice of this truth in the arena of life, eventually yields itself to the kinds of inner derived actions that demonstrate living self-worth in the world.
- You prioritize your well being, regardless of the cost
- You demonstrating compassion towards yourself and others
- You ask for and receive help
- You admit when you don’t know something
- You stand up for yourself and others
- You remain open in conversations while representing your unique perspective or authority as a genuine contribution, without attachment to being right
- You have standards that you strive for, and grace when they cannot be met
- You do whatever it takes to give yourself the best life possible, as well as be a cause for the best lives possible in those around you.
- You enjoy the good things in your life
- You practice self-kindness of thought as well as action
- Yo challenge and stretch yourself to grow, while not pushing yourself unnecessarily or unconsciously from a place of lack
- You recognize the inherent value in everything around you.
- You accept feelings of discomfort without needing to change them
- You feel at ease and present
- You don’t need anyone or anything to validate you.
- You no longer feel the need to be right, only to contribute.
- You realize that your behavior nor the behavior of others is good nor bad,
How can you tell when you don’t have it?
- Because self-worth is fundamentally self-acceptance, you can identify when you are disconnected from your self-worth when you do not accept any part of your experience. Our external world is merely a reflection of our inner world, when we do not accept something outside of ourselves it reflects us that there is something internally we are not acceptable as well. Now, this doesn’t mean we need to be complacent with things as they are, it simply means that we can acknowledge them and their value, beyond our preferences, which are also just as valid. If I stub my toe, I can have the preference to stub my toe and to wish that I did not feel the pain, and I can also accept the pain and recognize the value it has of indicating something about my body. Acceptance and wanting something to be different or more beneficial to you are not mutually exclusive, and when both are present are strong indicators of self-worth.
How can you cultivate it?
- The final trick question, because ‘it” is already within you. However, what you can do is cultivate the embodiment of your worthiness with the 12 steps below.
Here are 12 steps for practicing self-kindness and feeling worthy AF
- Believe. It all starts with belief. If you don’t believe in your own worthiness it will be near impossible to feel it.
- Forgive. Forgive yourself for any and everything you’ve ever done, at one point in your life that choice made sense for you. Forgive the inner critic forever beating you up or telling you that you’re not good enough then kindly institute a zero-tolerance policy for that inner bully.
- Meditate. Focus the mind and become more aware of your thoughts and the nature of those thoughts. For instance, my mind likes to often tell me “ways I could improve or do things better” which to some may sound quite helpful…and it is when it is rooted in my self-worth. When it is rooted in lack, then I am really just bullying myself by saying I haven’t done well enough, or am myself not good enough. Meditation pairs nicely with the “no bullying” policy :)
- Celebrate! Practice celebrating all the things, big and small, that there are to celebrate about yourself, your world, your experience, and your day, and making a conscious connection to your sense of being worthy of it all.
- Self Care. Practicing self-care, taking time to be alone, and creating space (which is extremely difficult in this highly connected, and highly extroverted world that we live in). Click here to get 100 Yoni Self Care Rituals.
- Nourish. Get enough rest, sleep, exercise, water, and nourishing well-balanced foods. Treat your body kindly and give it what it needs (not necessarily what your mind thinks it needs e.g. the mind may want a burger and fries when in reality the body wants lots of veggies and grilled salmon.)
- Listen. Practice listening to your body, connect with it every day. Connect with you Yoni and ask her to communicate with you clearly, and then practice deep listening. You can cultivate this deep listening by practicing meditation to quiet the mind, and feeling the sensations within your body.
- Affirm. Let your first thoughts of the day be “I am worthy, it is safe to be worthy, and everything I see, feel and experience today affirms my worthiness” Then repeat this to yourself throughout the day as many times as you can remember.
- Gratitude. Practice being grateful for everything in your life big and small. Let your last throughs of the day be filled with gratitude for every sign of your own worthiness.
- Share. Practice talking with others about self-worth and your journey to connect with it. When selecting who to share with, choose people who lift you and will reflect you how worthy you are. This is a good time to take stock of who you are surrounded by and cut out any toxic relationships!
- Connect. With the “you” that exists behind all the “things”, you identify with. Meaning behind your personality, behind your preferences, behind your job, your house, your car, your hobbies, your likes and your dislikes….the one that exists without any “form” and yet expresses its “self” through all forms.
- Play. Let yourself relax and seek fun, for the pure enjoyment of it. Let yourself get creative and do things differently, give yourself permission to explore and discover.
Self-worth is merely your recognition of your own value.
To establish a deeper connection and greater realization of this truth, all you need do is consciously intend so, and the process works on it. If all you did each day, was remind yourself every morning, “I am worthy, I am valuable” that would be enough and over time, that simple acknowledgment would flower into a living, breathing reality in which you knew, beyond a shadow of all doubt that…
You are worthy.