Humour me for a moment and imagine that you have the power to clone yourself so that there are now two identical versions of you out there in the world.
Now, let me ask you a question.
If you were to meet this other ‘you’ would you be good friends? Would you like ‘you’?
I often ask my clients this question and their response gives me an insight into how they see themselves.
Their answer tells me a lot about their sense of self-worth and their self-esteem in that moment.
Self-worth is defined as “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person”.
Self-esteem is defined as “how one feels about oneself in any given moment”.
Cultivating a healthy sense of self-worth is of vital importance because our level of self-worth dictates the quality of our entire existence.
It determines how we feel, how we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day life, and how we allow others to treat us.
High self-worth leads to greater self-confidence, self-belief, self-respect, happiness and achievement. It also results in better mental, emotional and physical health, and happier, more fulfilling relationships.
Low self-worth on the other hand does the opposite. A person with low self-worth will typically display some or all of the following characteristics :
- a lack of confidence and self-belief
- anxiety and emotional turmoil
- depression and/or bouts of sadness
- a tendency to treat themselves harshly, with little compassion or acceptance
- eating disorders
- a negative, pessimistic attitude to life
- an exaggerated concern about others’ opinions
- a reluctance to take on challenges and try something new
- a reluctance to put themselves first
- a mistrust of the self
- and self-sabotaging behaviours.
If you recognise any of these characteristics then the chances are that you need to cultivate greater self-worth.
Here are 7 strategies that can help you.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
The first step in building self-worth is to stop comparing yourself to others. You need to
a) redirect your attention back to yourself, and b) challenge your critical inner voice whenever it pipes up.
We all have an inner critic. It is that nasty little presence in our heads that constantly nags us with destructive thoughts about ourselves.
The inner critic will focus on others and engage in a running commentary on how everyone is smarter, prettier, richer, funnier, thinner, more stylish etc. … than you.
This internalised dialogue of critical thoughts undermines your sense of self-worth. It serves no positive function at all. All it does is make you feel bad about yourself.
If you are prone to comparing yourself to others and feeling bad about who you are then you need to remember this simple fact: you are not comparing like with like.
You are pitting your ‘real’ perception of yourself with someone else’s ‘fake’ version of themselves. I say fake because you are not seeing the real person. You are only relating to the aspect of that person they want you to see. Very rarely does anyone put their worst features and attributes on public display. People always present their best side.
Is it fair to compare your worst with someone else’s best and then feel bad about yourself? No, it isn’t. You’re doing yourself a disservice. Just stop doing it.
2. List Your Accomplishments
A lot of us do amazing things but then quickly forget that we did them. Look back over your past and list all your accomplishments.
There will be big things like winning awards, passing exams, securing jobs, getting promotions and overcoming challenges, but there will also be less recognised everyday things like listening to a friend in need, raising children, creating delicious meals, managing a household, or making other peoples’ lives better with your acts of kindness.
Look back over your life and think about the things you’re proud of.
If your mind refuses to come up with anything then remember you’re not looking hard enough. There’s something of worth in everyone’s life.
3. Treat Yourself with Kindness and Compassion
Increasing your self-worth involves cultivating an attitude of optimism, positive expectation, and self-belief.
It’s about having positive self-regard.
If you struggle with low self-esteem then start addressing the issue by reflecting on how you treat yourself.
Are you kind, compassionate, and mindful of your own needs?
Are you generous towards yourself?
Do you tolerate and accept the parts of yourself that you don’t like?
When you’ve done something wrong do you forgive yourself?
Or are you the opposite: mean, demanding, critical, unforgiving and judgmental?
I am often shocked by the harshness with which people treat themselves. Somewhere along the line, many people have learnt that it’s acceptable to condemn, belittle and criticise themselves without the slightest censorship. Ironically, very few of us would ever dream of being as obnoxious to another human being as we are to ourselves.
Once you have taken stock of where you are on the spectrum of self-acceptance, self-love and self-worth, make a decision to change your attitude towards yourself - starting now.
Begin to cultivate a warmer, kinder, more tolerant and compassionate attitude.
Learn to love and respect yourself. Learn to be more accepting of yourself, warts and all.
4. Take Better Care of Your Own Needs
Reconnect with yourself by regularly monitoring what is going on inside your mind and your body, and start to, firstly, notice your own needs, and secondly take care of those needs in a better way.
Be more honest about how you truly feel about the people, situations and things going on in your life.
Make regular time for yourself by giving yourself space to rest, reflect, and just ‘be’ on a daily basis.
This can be as uncomplicated as sitting quietly for 15 minutes with a cup of tea, writing in a journal, soaking in a warm bath, or going for a walk by yourself.
Ideally, establish a daily meditation practice. (If you’d like to learn to meditate then take a look at my downloadable course here.)
If you quieten down your mind, you will discover a beautiful, peaceful, joyful place within, one that you can access at any time, irrespective of what is going on in your outer world.
Look after yourself in the best way you possibly can so that you demonstrate to yourself that you are worthy of that care.
5. Do Things that Give You Joy
Another powerful way to greater self-worth is by identifying the things that give you joy and devoting some time to them. Reconnect with your creativity.
Creativity is the absolute essence of who we are as human beings. It is our fundamental nature, and connecting with and expressing our creativity has a profoundly positive effect on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing.
If you already know what makes you feel good then make more time for it in your life.
If you have lost touch with your creativity, think back to your childhood. We were all in touch with that part of ourselves when we were young.
What did you love to do?
What gave you pleasure?
Did you enjoy drawing, playing music, writing stories or being in the garden?
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, try something new.
Spending even short periods of time on your hobbies or interests on a regular basis is the highest quality ‘me-time’ you can get and does wonders for your self-esteem, happiness and health.
6. Do Good Things that Make a Difference to Those Around You
At its simplest, cultivating greater self-worth involves doing good things and remembering that you did them.
Begin to recognise the myriad of skills, talents and unique gifts that you possess.
Think about all the people that rely on you to do everyday things for them.
Think about the things you’re good at.
Notice when people compliment you on something.
In fact, buy a little notebook and write these compliments down. This practice will allow you to acknowledge and appreciate the qualities that others see in you that otherwise may have just passed you by. This is a proven technique for boosting self-esteem, and your notebook will soon become a permanent source of ‘feel good energy’ whenever you feel less than good about yourself.
Start to notice where in life you make a difference.
Are you a force for good at home?
Do you go the extra mile at work?
If you think you could do more why not go out and volunteer with a charity or agency?
You could help the needy, feed the homeless, or befriend a lonely person.
Give of your time, energy and/or money and notice the difference that you make.
7. Invest in Yourself
And, finally, invest in your personal development and wellbeing.
A key measure of a person’s sense of self-worth is the time, energy and resources they’re willing to expend on themselves.
Allocate thirty minutes a day to engage in any activity that improves your awareness, develops your talents and potential, enhances the quality of your life, and/or contributes to the realisation of your dreams and aspirations.
This can be done through reading books, listening to audios, watching on-line videos, or attending workshops and courses.
As you begin to develop a healthier attitude towards yourself, you will notice a greater sense of self-respect and self-confidence starting to emerge. This in turn will make it easier for you to define and maintain your personal boundaries with others. We get back in life what we put out. As you emanate this new-found positive energy into the world, the Universe will respond by sending new positive energy back into your life.