It’s been a thought lately of how do I determine self-worth, how do I measure this? How do you compare your self-worth compared to your friend, colleague, your nemesis?
I see many articles and professionals state that self-worth is the same as self-esteem, and how you believe in yourself. Now I do believe in myself and I would say I have high self-esteem, but I tend to question my own self-worth or self-value.
The difference between self-worth and self-esteem
Based on this thinking I began doing some research and something resonated with me when I read the difference between self-worth and self-esteem by Dr Christina Hibbert, who states that one’s self-worth is what one thinks, feels and believes about oneself. Self-worth is the ability to recognize that one is greater than all of these things. It is realising that one is of value, loveable and necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth (2013).
There is self-worth in all areas of your life, it can be at work, at home, as a parent, as a daughter or son, as a friend. And if you are anything like me there are some characteristics that I carry throughout these areas of life, but the Maxine at home is a little different to the Maxine at work, the Maxine with colleagues is a little different to the Maxine as a friend. And it is within these different areas of life, that I find myself pondering over self-worth. How necessary am I? Am I worthy?
The answers to these questions play a major role in my ability to ask for that increase, to put up my hand with an idea (without thinking the fear of asking a stupid question), to step forward and ask to take the lead in a project, to put in my two cents out of fear of being told its wrong or won’t work, and I can go on and on. Self-worthiness plays an important role in my own thoughts, feeling and behavior.
Based on this it is safe to say that self-worth is achieved through self-identified abilities and own performances. For an international soccer star – I play soccer, therefore I have a spot on the team, and I am needed. For some employees its competing with others, for example salesmen compete during the year to win the top salesmen of the year award, it is through this achievement that some feel worthy, and necessary. For others it’s a little more difficult to find your niche, where you fit in and flourish. Where your skills are noticed and praised for. So, for those of us who sit on the more difficult side of identifying our self-worth, what can we do to feel more worthy, to identify our self-worth?
What doesn’t contribute?
A good place to start may be things that do not contribute to self-worth, according to author Stephanie Jade Wong (n.d.) these things are:
- Your bank account (the number in your bank account does not determine your self-worth)
- Your job title (it doesn’t matter what you do, but rather that you do it well and that it makes you happy)
- Your social media following (how many people actually know the real you on social media platforms, in turn how well do you know those who are liking and following you, probability is not very well)
- Your to-do list (achieving tasks during the day is great but how does this contribute to your self-worth?)
- Your relationship status (whether you are single, married, divorced, or not too sure, it does not have a direct impact on your self-worth)
- Your age (you are not too old or too young, your age does not factor into your ability to feel worthy.)
Now that we have looked at what doesn’t contribute to your self-worth, what does? According to researchers finding self-worth is much easier as a teenager than an adult, which makes sense. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect at work, at home, with friends, and with our families. We tell ourselves that mistakes are unacceptable, that showing weakness is a flaw, and to show your emotions is a sign of weakness. But what if in fact it is all of these things that contribute to making ourselves feel worthy.
When looking at self-worth:
- Look at what truly matters, a person’s kindness, empathy towards others, respect for others, and how they treat others.
- Focus on not listening to that inner voice, rather take time to pause, ask that inner voice if she actually has a point, and do you actually need to hear what she is saying.
- Be careful to tie your self-worth to your job, as identified earlier, your job does not dictate your worth. Focus more on doing your daily tasks well. Be responsible and accountable and stand up when you do something wrong and even more so when you do something well.
It is not always easy to stay positive and feel worthy but when I am starting to feel low and that I should rather give up and let someone else do it, I am going to give myself a good talking to, focus on these 3 things and do what makes me happy.
Ackerman, C. (2019). What is self-worth and how do we increase it? Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/self-worth/
Hibbert, C. (2013). Self-esteem vs. self-worth. Dr. Christina Hibbert. Retrieved from https://www.drchristinahibbert.com/self-esteem-vs-self-worth/