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What Is Self-Worth and How to Recognize Yours

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There are many articles on the internet on one’s “self” topic or another. It’s possible that you’ve read some of them before this one, and you’re wondering how this article might be any different from the rest.

The truth is that self-love, self-esteem, self-empathy, self-regard, and all the other ‘self-’ words are great and unique qualities to be instilled. Still, the foundation of them all is self-worth.

Here’s a look at how they are all connected and some tips on how you can start your journey in recognizing how unique you truly are. Self-awareness is key and it’s not only about distinguishing the boxes and labels we may sometimes place ourselves in, but also about understanding how we define it in our lives.

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is simply defined as the level of importance you place on yourself. It is an emotional outlook that determines how and what you feel about yourself in comparison to other people.

One definition of self-worth is the value you have for yourself. [1] Self-worth is a fundamental part of our being, and it controls the way we see ourselves. Everything we think about, all the emotions we feel, and even the way we act is a product of what value we place on ourselves by ourselves.

Self-worth can be a complex topic. It’s important to recognize your own self-worth, so, here are a few recommended steps to recognizing it within yourself.


The Theory of Self-Worth

To most people, self-worth only comes after a feat has been achieved or when competing with another person. This is the theory: that a person’s life goal is self-recognition and that this recognition is a product of their accomplishments. This theory also holds capability, determination, performance, and self-esteem as its model elements.

These four elements cooperate to contribute to how we regard ourselves. It may be relatable, but should we really be placing so much importance on our accomplishments just to determine our self-worth? Is outdoing the next person the only way we can hold ourselves in high regard? What really determines one’s sense of value?

Factors That Define Self-Worth

The four elements from the theory above are not the only benchmarks used by people to determine self-worth. Many other things can inhibit how a person recognizes their self-worth. For some, it might be childhood trauma, low grades, or even bullying.

The following are more common ways people measure their self-worth:

1. Sphere of Contact

Many times, people are weighed (or weigh themselves) by the number of prominent people they are close to and know.

2. Physical and Emotional Appearance

We find ourselves passing judgments just by regarding a person’s outward look – what they wear, how they speak, or how the society feels about them.

3. Occupation

This is another yardstick that people use to measure self-worth. Someone can be mean to a waiter and friendly to a doctor, for example, because they feel the latter is more successful than the former. Career choices often add positive or negative importance to one’s life.


4. Possessions

This is a common factor used to measure self-worth. It can be anything from the size of your paycheck to the kind and number of cars you own. It is usually material assets.

What Self-Worth Is Not

The truth is that status or material things should never measure self-worth. There are many misconceptions about self-worth that have sadly shaped the minds of people into thinking less of themselves. There are many things that people attribute to their self-worth that don’t actually have any bearing.

Self-Worth Is Not Your Career

Your occupation should not determine the value you place on your life.

There have been cases where experienced and trained professionals have settled for menial jobs because they couldn’t get hired. If this doesn’t take away their qualifications, why should self-worth be measured according to career choices? The only thing that should be a concern is how gratifying the job is.

Self-Worth Is Not About Your Accomplishment

Achievements are great, but what you do or achieve shouldn’t affect the importance you place on yourself. No label, certificate, or plaque should measure your worth for you.

Self-Worth Is Not Your Age

I don’t mean to sound cliché by telling you age is nothing but a big number, but I will tell you this: how old or how young you do not determine how prepared you are for anything.

You only need to be willing and dedicated, and the world will be at your feet.

Self-Worth Is Not Your Love Life

It is tempting to try to feel good about yourself just because someone feels good about you. What if they leave?


Single or not, do not make a relationship the basis for your self-worth.

Self-Worth Is Not Your Grades

Are you the least smart person in your class? Know that you are just as valuable as a straight-A student because you have individual gifts and might excel at something else that an A-student will flunk terribly.

Self-Worth Is Not Your Health Status

Do you have an illness that’s lowering your spirits? It is safe to say that positive people heal more quickly, so stay optimistic.

Self-Worth Is Not Your Finances

Too much or too little money does not define a person. As long as you are satisfied and have enough to survive, then there’s nothing to worry about.

Self-Worth Is Not About Your Preference

Do people think you’re old-school or too sophisticated for this generation? Their opinion doesn’t matter as long as you’re okay with who you are.

Self-worth is only about you!

What Is Self-Worth?

It can be somewhat overwhelming to see yourself for who “you are” without the assets or dream job or friends. For some people, it can be agonizing, and they would do anything but come to this stage of awareness. There also exists a high possibility for one to become afraid of becoming self-aware.

It is natural for humans to be elusive of this sort of fear or pain. This process is necessary for discovering self-worth and should never be avoided. Beyond every seemingly painful emotion is an eternity of freedom, and the first step on this journey is self-awareness.


This is the key to finding self-worth.

Everyone has a mental picture of who they want to be. Sometimes this person is not who he or she is. It’s okay to have ambitions and life goals, but never let your dreams make you deny yourself.

Self-denial is an enemy to self-worth. This is why it is painful to become self-aware. Most people will never want to let go of who they think they are and embrace their true selves for who they indeed are.

Self-worth is not a bad thing. It only makes you accept your weaknesses while you learn to focus on your strengths. Some of these strengths lie undiscovered, and until we become self-aware, we will be unable to bring them to light.

On self-worth, you can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy. If you keep evading self-awareness, you will only keep delaying your freedom and healing. Self-worth truly comes when you fully understand who you are and what strong potential you possess.

The Importance of Self-Worth

The best part about recognizing self-worth is seeing the practical impact it has on your behavior. Self-worth affects the things you do and the choices you make consciously. You start rejecting anything that has a negative effect on your outlook on life, and you become more open to things crafted to make you a better person.

Self-worth is what keeps you satisfied even if all your achievements, assets, and possessions are taken away from you. The moment you reach healthy levels of self-worth, life becomes much more meaningful.


How To Recognize Your Self-Worth

So, you’ve finally become self-aware, but you don’t feel good about yourself. Nothing excites you about you. You think you’re just an average person, coursing through life with nothing special to offer.

You start to feel like you need validation from determining your self-worth. You want to achieve a task or even take a quiz to measure your self-worth. What you should know is that self-worth first comes from within.

To reiterate the opening paragraph of this article, it is the level of importance you place on yourself – by yourself! By merely existing, you are sufficient.

Finding Strength

Strength in self-worth comes from finding qualities you excel at. These qualities will be a constant reminder whenever you start feeling like you are not worthy enough.

Little things like a list of your talents, things you like about yourself that make you stand out, challenges you’ve won at, how you’ve helped other people, and other great reflections are questions you should have answers to. Your strength lies in those questions.

The Dangers of Linking Self-Worth to Things and People

You make unhealthy decisions when you keep looking for validation in things and people. You never get to see yourself for the potential-filled and robust person you are.


Looking for external validation will only frustrate you. You set yourself up for a chain of disappointments. Place your worth on your insides. It is the key to leading a healthy life.

How To Start Increasing Your Self-Worth

Now that you’ve seen the vacuums that continuously drain your self-worth, it’s time to learn ways to increase, strengthen, and sustain it. You can start by highlighting the things you previously found your worth in and substitute them for more productive activities.

Here are some examples:

For the One Who Found Self-Worth in School or Work:

Take some time off from all the excessive reading. Engage in an activity that you really like. Learn a new skill, like how to play an instrument or how to dance salsa. Read an unusual book.

For the One Who Sought Validation from Social Media:

Go offline for some time. Attend hangouts with physical people. Go out and exercise [2]. Be intentional about your words and actions. Show your relations and friends that you care for them. Show up physically for people. Be there for them.

On your journey to recognize self-worth, never compare yourself to anyone. By comparison, you rob yourself of self-awareness and block your chances of seeing your strong potential. Comparison only measures your worth by other people’s standards. How about creating some rules on your own?

With time, it becomes easier to free oneself from the weight that comes with no self-worth. It is easy to do things you believe in than otherwise. Never doubt the process. Reassure yourself that your journey to self-worth will be the most rewarding experience of your life.


Let’s take a look at some practical ways to boost self-worth:

1. Do a Talent or Skill Inventory

Everyone has something good to offer. Humans possess and can learn mind-blowing abilities.

What can you offer? Take stock of your skills and gifts.

What are those cool things you do effortlessly? When you identify your abilities, you suppress your weaknesses and give voice to your strength.

2. Pardon Yourself

You have to forgive yourself for all your shortcomings. Learn from all your past mistakes. If you keep feeling guilty or ashamed, you will never have a healthy sense of self-worth.

3. Take Risks

The only reason you haven’t done something great for yourself is that you are still wondering whether or not you should do it. Never be afraid to take risks to become a better version of yourself. Stop doubting your abilities and go.

If you don’t succeed on your initial try, you would only have learned how not to fail next time. Get up and do great things.

Try these 6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances.

4. Self-Love

Accept yourself for who you are. If you have negative qualities, work on becoming a better person. Never make the mistake of living in denial. You would only be delaying your freedom.

Here’re 41 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.

5. Surround Yourself with Healthy People

Healthy attracts healthy. Healthy habits can rub off as much as negative ones do.

Surround yourself with the change you want to see. Be with people who have overcome the doubts they had about themselves and, like you, are also on a journey to recognizing self-worth.


Take a look at this article and learn How to Surround Yourself With Positive People.

It is crucial for everyone to lead healthy lives physically, emotionally, socially, mentally, and otherwise, by evaluating our self-worth. We have to consciously take steps to build and develop our sense of regard for each other and, more importantly, for ourselves. Healthy self-worth is a source of deep and lasting satisfaction in life.

Final Thoughts

It is worthy to note that your outlook may change and you may start to value different things on your journey to recognize your self-worth.

Continue to surround yourself with people who support your ongoing journey of growth. Prioritize relationships that align with your new outlook to keep positivity in your life. These are all keys to knowing what your self-worth is.

Featured photo credit: Erik Lucatero via unsplash.com


[1]PostivePsychology.com: What is Self-Worth & How Do We Build it?
[2]Nhs.uk: Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64
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