Most everyone questions how others view them, but how often do we take the time to recognize how we feel about ourselves? This article from Psychalive discusses why we should evaluate our own self-worth & steps to improve it. Too often we rate ourselves based on what we do versus who we are. Enjoy this condensed excerpt telling us how to deal with our inner critic! Click here for the full article.
The dictionary defines self-worth as “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.” However, there are many ways for a person to value themselves and assess their worth as a human being, and some of these are more psychologically beneficial than others. In this article, we discuss the value of true self-worth, how to build this type of self-worth and why so many of us lack a feeling of worthiness.
Self-Worth vs. Self-Esteem
Although, self-worth is often used as a synonym for “self-esteem,” Dr. Lisa Firestone believes that self-worth should be less about measuring yourself based on external actions and more about valuing your inherent worth as a person. In other words, self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do.
Dr. Kristin Neff argues that there is a problem with society’s focus on high self-esteem. The problem is that this focus involves measuring oneself against others, rather than paying attention to one’s intrinsic value. “Our competitive culture tells us we need to be special and above average to feel good about ourselves, but we can’t all be above average at the same time,” says Dr. Neff. In this sense, searching for self-worth by constantly comparing ourselves to others means to always be fighting a losing battle.
How to Build Self-Worth
The first step in building self-worth is to stop comparing yourself to others and evaluating your every move; in other words, you need to challenge your critical inner voice. The critical inner voice is like a nasty coach in our heads that constantly nags us with destructive thoughts towards ourselves or others. This internalized dialogue of critical thoughts or “inner voices” undermines our sense of self-worth and even leads to self-destructive or maladaptive behaviors, which make us feel even worse about ourselves.
A true sense of self-worth can also be fostered by practicing self-compassion. Developed by Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion as you would treat a friend. This involves taking on what Dr. Dan Siegel describes as the “COAL” attitude, which means being Curious, Open, Accepting and Loving toward yourself and your experiences rather than being self-critical. There are three steps to practicing self-compassion:
1) Acknowledge and notice your suffering.
2) Be kind and caring in response to suffering.
3) Remember that imperfection is part of the human experience and something we all share.
Adding meaning to your life, by taking part in activities that you feel are important, is another great way to build self-worth. Helping others, for example, offers a huge boost to your sense of self-worth.
By challenging your critical inner voice and stopping comparing yourself to others, you can begin to get a feeling for your own self-worth. By pursuing activities that are meaningful to you and acting in line with your own personal beliefs, you can develop your sense of yourself as a worthwhile person in the world even further.