Self worth is one of those phrases intrinsically associated with personal development. Most would agree that it is both positive and favourable to have self worth and that to not possess it would result in detrimental consequences in a person’s life. Sadly however, many people still find it difficult to feel good about who they are, how they look and their capabilities as an individual.
Self worth is also known as self esteem and differs slightly from self confidence. Our friends at Wikipedia have defined self esteem as:
‘…a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth.’
In comparison, self confidence is a belief in our capabilities to be able to face whatever life throws at us. I would propose that both self confidence and self worth form the foundation of a happy and fulfilled life and so developing these should be our starting point.
The Tale of the Pink Pipe Cleaner
Many of my clients come to me to support them in building their self worth and I encourage them to view their ‘self’ as being as precious as a gemstone. At an event I was speaking at recently I held up a bright pink pipe cleaner to 70 bemused audience members. After introducing that this fluorescent pipe cleaner was mine and in fact quite important to me, I asked if anyone wanted to have it for a few minutes to do with as they so wish. A lovely lady put her hand up and so I handed over my pipe cleaner and continued with my presentation. Then 5 minutes later I went back to her and asked her to return my pipe cleaner. When she handed it back to me it had changed shape significantly, so much so that it could have been a different pipe cleaner all together! I held it up for everyone to see and after complimenting the lady on her artistic capabilities, turned to the audience and said “What if I was to tell you that this is in fact my self worth?” To which I could almost hear the sound of light bulbs going off around the room as the realisation that this is what happens when we allow others to shape what we feel about ourselves, for ourselves, hit home.
Afterwards I asked them, begged them in fact, not to hand over their self worth to anyone else and to define who they are and what they are worth for themselves. When our self worth isn’t intact, we are vulnerable to the external influences of people’s opinions, actions and the challenging events in life to negatively impact how we view ourselves. The next time somebody else’s opinion of you begins to make you feel bad, remind yourself that only you define you and take your ‘pink pipe cleaner’ back into your own hands.
The Seesaw Effect
Interestingly our self worth can vary across our lives. For example a person may see themselves as having value in their personal life such as being a great and treasured friend, yet at work they feel anxious and somehow ‘weak’, or vice versa. It is as though the way we view ourselves depends on the situation we are in or who we are interacting with, particularly if we choose to view the other person as being somehow better, more qualified, or capable than us. This creates an almost seesaw affect where one minute we are up and the next we are down – I feel good, I feel bad, I feel good, I feel bad – and so leaving us feeling a little nauseous to say the least. To assess this for yourself evaluate on a scale of 1 – 10 how much you value yourself in these situations:
- Receiving constructive feedback from others
- Handling an issue with a key client or senior management
- Speaking to people you don’t know for the first time
- Public speaking, whether in a social or work setting
You may be able to think of more situations personal to you where you notice a self worth shift: either a shift towards high value or low value. What do you think is happening here?
5 Ways to Build Your Self Worth:
1. Catch the Negative Belief
Low self worth stems from a negative belief that is roaming around our minds, undermining everything we do and say. Negative beliefs become self fulfilling prophecies because what we believe is what we look to see in life. For example if you hold a negative belief that you are not truly liked by your friends, then you will find plenty of evidence to prove that this is the case and miss any opposing information that suggests this is in fact a false assumption. The next time you feel yourself feeling bad about a certain situation, ask yourself what belief is playing over in your mind and therefore what you are looking for. Then spend 5 minutes seeking evidence that opposes this negative belief and see what you find when you take the blinkers off.
2. Challenge the Internal Critic
Do you ever tell yourself that you are ugly, stupid or a useless waste of space? If so I bet you wouldn’t say the things you say to yourself to another person would you? We can be our own worst critic and say hurtful things over and over to ourselves. Be aware of that negative voice that follows you around like a commentator picking on your every move. When the commentary becomes nasty, rather than accept the criticism, challenge it! Similar to handling a negative belief, think of all the reasons why your internal critic is wrong, take a deep breath and choose to let go of the empty criticism.
No I don’t mean join the Special Air Service (unless that’s one of your life goals then if so, go for it) but to identify your Successes, Achievements & Strengths. A significant way to build our self worth is to recognise our past achievements. What have you already achieved in your career, your personal life? How have you previously overcome obstacles or challenges? What are your innate strengths? The motto of the SAS (and Delboy..) is “Who Dares, Wins”. Do you dare to feel good about yourself?
4. Feel Alive & Thrive
You are unique, there is nobody like you and nothing demonstrates this more than the things you enjoy doing. To echo my thoughts on Twitter after successfully snowboarding down a scary black run in February (i.e. I was still in one piece afterwards)”Whatever makes you feel alive, do more of it”. What makes you feel alive? How can you get the buzz of being you and alive in your life more often?
5. Be Understanding
Another time when we can do ourselves an injustice is when it comes to showing ourselves understanding. When we make a mistake we are too quick to reprimand ourselves to the point of despair. Again when you find yourself doing this, ask yourself what you would say to a friend if they had made the same mistake? Would you be able to see that they did their best in that situation? Could you see that they are a good person who has many great qualities but like the rest of us is only human? Create a habit of showing yourself more empathy in situations, give yourself a break and credit where credit is due.
Self worth is like the engine in your car, without which it will be near on impossible to get to where you want to get to in life. If you choose to value and utilise everything you are, you are choosing to live your life to the full. What will your choice be?
About the Author: Donna Joy Hubbard is a Certified Life Coach and Director of BeDynamic Life Coaching – www.bedynamic.co.uk . Donna is passionate about empowering people to live their lives to the full. Applying research led and creative techniques, Donna helps individuals unlock what it is that they truly want and identify how they can achieve this confidently and effectively. Donna’s clients include people from a variety of professional backgrounds including; Professional Services, Broadcasting, Events & Marketing and Health & Beauty. Donna believes that passion plus a strategic plan = success in achieving your life goals. This is what BeDynamic calls a Strategy for Life.
BeDynamic helps individuals to unlock what they truly want by letting go of external influences to free their mind and their potential. Coaching with us is a journey of self discovery empowering you to be self confident, vibrant and in the driving seat of your life. This is to BeDynamic. BeDynamic is a member of the Association for Coaching.