According to the American Psychological Association (APA), your self-worth is your assessment of yourself as a capable and valuable human being deserving of consideration and respect. It is an internal sense of being worthy of love. When we think about interactions and relationships with our friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors, we emphasize concepts such as kindness, consideration, respect, love, and affirmation. However, many people don’t apply those ideas to their own self-image. The extent to which we consider ourselves worthy of those same ideals determines our level of self-worth.
Those with positive self-worth often exhibit more self-confidence and a higher self-esteem level. Low self-worth, however, can cause an individual to have a poor opinion of themselves and judge themselves critically. These people tend to dwell on their mistakes, faults, and shortcomings – rather than playing to their strengths. Self-worth influences everything in your life – from your career to your relationships. It is also essential to understand that how you view yourself will affect how others see you – whether positively or negatively.
Factors That Impact Self-Worth
According to experts, many factors influence self-worth and how we view ourselves. These may include core beliefs and values, relationships, childhood experiences, professional interactions, community status, physical health and appearance, and financial position.
If you are interested in assessing your own self-worth, you may want to ask yourself some simple but revealing questions:
- How would you use to describe yourself to a stranger?
- Do you think you are worthy of love and respect?
- When you think about yourself, what words come to mind?
- Are your thoughts about yourself generally positive or generally negative?
Self-Esteem is Important – Here’s Why
Folks with positive self-worth exude confidence and believe they can handle whatever life throws at them. While confident people are typically aware of areas that need improvement, they don’t let failures or mistakes shape their identity. Because they have a general faith that their efforts will be fruitful, they take advantage of opportunities and are more willing to take risks.
An individual’s perception of their self-worth also influences their relationships. Having a positive self-image provides the courage to set healthy boundaries to mitigate poor treatment from others. Those with low self-worth might not feel that they deserve better treatment and may not be willing to ask for respect.
Ramifications of Low Self-Worth
Low self-image can be clinically associated with depression and anxiety. Individuals who don’t have a sense of worth may be irritable and anxious – and often experience fatigue, weight issues, insomnia, and lack of focus. They may also:
- have a negative view of themselves
- don’t trust their own capabilities
- have a constant fear of failure
- focus disproportionately on their failures and weaknesses
- struggle with accepting compliments or praise
- put others on pedestals they may not deserve
- minimize their own needs
- constantly compare themselves with others
- allow personal boundaries to be violated
- try to gain acceptance by people-pleasing
- rarely defend themselves
How to Improve and Enhance Your Self-Esteem
Increasing your sense of worth provides many beneficial results, and adopting strategies to enhance your self-image can transform every aspect of your life.
Challenge Yourself Through Exercise: Studies prove that exercise is associated with higher self-worth. Challenging your body and working towards goals each time provides tangible proof that you are capable of more than you imagined. Not only that, but exercise provides a wealth of physical and mental benefits.
Spend Time Doing Things You are Good At: Finding something you love and are good at reinforces confidence. Teaching others your skill – be it musical, artistic, mechanical, or creative – can boost your mood and allow you to show off your proficiency.
Address Negative Thoughts: Those with low self-worth often allow negative self-talk to impact their mood and confidence. But thoughts are not always reality, so face those thoughts and replace them with factual statements of affirmation.
Search Out Support: People without a strong sense of worth often live their entire lives that way – but the thought process can have an increasingly detrimental effect on one’s relationships, career, and overall happiness. A therapist, counselor, or personal coach can provide the support you need to relearn thought processes and gradually boost your self-worth.
If you think you have low self-esteem and that the mindset is adversely affecting your life, you can take proactive steps to improve your situation. Respecting and valuing yourself can be a meaningful step toward finding the respect and consideration of others.
Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor and coach with offices in Sarasota, Florida.